Collecting Articles and Features

Fulper Pottery A Short History

The Fulper Pottery Company was founded in Flemington, New Jersey in 1899 by Charles Fulper and his sons. However, the pottery had existed since 1815 when the first pottery was created by Samuel Hill. The pottery initially produced a wide variety of utilitarian ware, and drain tiles and storage crocks and jars from Flemington’s red earthenware clay. In 1847 Dutchman Abraham Fulper, an employee since the 1820s became Hill’s partner. He later took over the company.

It was not until the early 1900s when William Hill Fulper II (1870-1953) started to experiment with colored glazes and the company started to create some of the art pottery it is famed for. Fulper is credited with inventing the dry-body slip glaze, which was used to create colorful designs on his pottery. He also developed a method of using electric kilns to fire his glazes, which resulted in brighter and more consistent colors.

Fulper Pottery’s Vasekraft line was inspired by the work of German potter John Martin Strangl. The line includes a wide variety of vases, bowls, and other vessels, all with Strangl’s signature clean lines and simple forms.

Fulper vase large ribbed form with two handles, covered in a light blue and green flambe glaze
Fulper vase large ribbed form with two handles, covered in a light blue and green flambe glaze. Sold for $300 at Treadway Toomey Gallery, March 2013.

The company is especially known for the Fulper lamps-with glazed pottery shades inset with colored glass-were truly innovative forms. The firm’s most spectacular and innovative accomplishments are the table lamps made with glazed pottery bases and shades, which were inset with pieces of colored opalescent glass. These were produced from about 1910-1915 and are very rare, especially in perfect order.

A Fulper Pottery Fine and rare Vasekraft lamp
A Fulper Pottery Fine and rare Vasekraft lamp sold for $25,000 at RAGO Auctioneers, May 2019.

William Hill Fulper II was also an excellent advertiser and marketeer and Fulper’s Vasekraft products were sold throughout the United States in the most prestigious department stores and gift shops. Fulper’s pottery was exhibited at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, where it received a gold medal. His work is also included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

A Fulper art pottery vase circa 1920
A Fulper art pottery vase circa 1920. Sold for £80 at Kingham and Orme Auctioneers, July 2019.

During its first twenty-five years, Fulper Pottery was particularly known for its flambé glazes, which were heavily influenced by Chinese and Japanese ceramic traditions. These glazes, which resulted in vibrant and often unexpected colors, helped to establish Fulper Pottery’s reputation for innovative and high-quality art pottery.

After World War I, Fulper Pottery began to shift away from its Germanic roots and move towards more Oriental-inspired forms. The company’s designers began to experiment with new shapes and glazes, inspired by the Art Deco movement that was sweeping Europe at the time. The Vasekraft name was changed to Fulper Pottery Artware. These new pieces were softer and more graceful than the functional stoneware that Fulper had been producing up until that point, and they proved to be very popular with the public.

Fulper Vintage Antique Art Pottery Chinese Flambe Blue Effigy Bowl
Fulper Vintage Antique Art Pottery Chinese Flambe Blue Effigy Bowl. Sold for $1,195 on ebay May, 2022.

In the 1920s, Fulper Pottery was one of the leading producers of Art Deco ceramics in the United States. The company’s designers created a wide range of vases, lamps, and other objects that were both beautiful and stylish. Fulper’s pieces were featured in some of the most prestigious design magazines of the day, and they were popular with both collectors and everyday consumers.

Fulper Pottery two handled ceramic vase
Fulper Pottery two handled ceramic vase. Sold for $200 at Revere Auctions, November 2021.

In 1925, Charles Fulper died, and his sons took over the operation of the pottery. Under their leadership, Fulper Pottery continued to experiment with new glazes and firing techniques. They also began to produce a line of dinnerware, which was very popular during the Depression-era.

The Great Depression hit Fulper Pottery hard, as it did many other businesses. The company was forced to lay off a large number of employees and cut back on production. However, Fulper’s designers continued to experiment with new ideas, and the company managed to survive the difficult economic times.

William Hill Fulper II died suddenly in 1928. The company continued to be run with Martin Stangl as President. In 1935, Fulper Pottery Artware production was ceased at the small remaining Flemington location, and that building was utilized solely as a retail showroom for the company’s ceramic products. After 1935, the company continued to be Fulper Pottery, but produced only Stangl Pottery brand dinnerware and artware.

Fulper Pottery at Auction
American Pottery at WCN