Sunday, April 25, 2010

Jersey Pottery...


and you thought all we had were "real housewives" and MTV shows...but, no...there is more to us than "Snooki" and "The Situation." One of the well known American potteries was located in Flemington, NJ...Stangl Pottery.

The story is one of those Horatio Alger stories, and for those who do not know Horatio, he wrote novels in the late 19th century that were about a poor person's rise to the middle class and comfort (note...I say "middle" class, not billionaire).

Anyway, the roots of the pottery go back to the mid 1800s when Sam Hill produced Hill Pottery in Flemington. When he died, Abram Fulper took over the plant, and Fulper Pottery was born. In the early 1900s, Fulper's grandson William ventured into art pottery. He hired Johann Martin Stangl who was a ceramic chemist and technician.

Stangl worked his way up in the business, and, when William Fulper died suddenly in 1928, John Stangl found himself President of the company, and Stangl Pottery was born. (Notice how these guys all named the companies after themselves...branding for sure!) Stangl is best known for their dinnerware, but they produced bird figurines and various art pottery pieces.
I gravitate to the unusual pieces. I like "Antique/Granada Gold" and what is pictured here--the"Black Gold."

The line was developed by a general manager, James Hill, and artistically designed by Kay Hackett. What is neat about this company is that the people who worked in the plant were involved in the production. They were more than employees. Black Gold is a 22 carat gold over black and was produced between 1966-1968.

Antique Gold is a stain green glaze with 22 carat gold dry brushed over it. There is a Granada Gold which is over a tan glaze. I have none of that in stock.

Here are some Antique Gold pieces, also from the late 60s (see--wasn't all hippie colors in the 60s!).
Often they echo shore colors as well as their designs.
From the 1930s until the company went out of business in the late 1970s, one of the first outlet stores existed in Flemington, NJ. Seconds were marked with a line on the back, and, according to my research, automobile clubs and tour bus lines included it on their routes. Sadly, when Stangl died, so did the company despite Frank Wheaton's(a NJ glass manufacturer)attempts to maintain production. High costs and competition from China contributed to its demise. Pfaltzgraff bought the property in 1979, and Stangl production ceased.

In 1965, Stangl wrote, “In our world of automation, there are few industries that specialize in hand-crafted items. Stangl Pottery, one of America’s oldest potteries, still takes the time to hand-craft and hand-paint each and every piece of dinnerware… Stangl dinnerware is still, and will continue to be, a work of art. We are proud of Stangl hand-crafted dinnerware and artware…those who own it also experience this pride of possession.”

It is sad that so many proud companies closed, and that so many Americans lost sight of the artistry of their fellow workers. But at least in the antique shops and in the second hand shops across the country, we can keep alive that artistry.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

“April is the cruelest month,

breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.” (T.S. Eliot)
Behind my shop is a wonderful lilac bush. Sadly, it took a serious hit this past winter...didn't most of us? Anyway, I love its purple flowers, and despite its devastation, it is producing flowers on those crippled branches. Nature is resilient...would that human nature would understand that premise.

The lilac traces its roots to Greek mythology. A beautiful nymph named Syringa (lilac’s botanical name) overwhelmed Pan, the god of the forests and fields. He chased her through the forest, and since she was frightened by Pan’s affections, she escaped him by turning herself into an aromatic bush – the flower we now refer to as lilac.

Lilacs are the 8th wedding anniversary flower and the state flower of New Hampshire (symbolizing the hardy character of the Granite State’s citizens). In the language of flowers, purple lilacs symbolize the first emotions of love, while white lilacs represent youthful innocence.
In Europe, the color generally considered "lilac" is a darker shade of purple than what is considered "lilac" elsewhere.
Because these flowers are dramatic little clusters, you do not need elaborate vases. These simplistic Floraline McCoy planters would work well for cuttings.
This is from 1950's, McCoy's Garden line...there were 16 different shapes, but they are all clean lines.
Roseville Floraline was developed in June 1960 and was produced for the retail florists like Teleflora and FTD. It had been created in the 1940s, but the workers encouraged management to create an exclusive line. The company made over $1,000,000 in sales and produced the line after Lancaster Colony bought the company. This is an older mark. Pieces from the 1940's are marked USA, but most of them simply said 'Floraline'. If the piece was made by Lancaster Colony, an LC will be visible and MPC would indicate that Mt. Clemons Pottery was the creator.
And, since we opened with a T.S. Eliot often referenced quote about April and lilacs, let me finish with another lesser known by the same poet...
"Now that the lilacs are in bloom
She has a bowl of lilacs in her room."
Maybe April will not seem so cruel with a "bowl" of them in your room...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Yearn for an urn?

I love auctions...you never know what you are going to find. It is like opening a present every week...surprises...some weeks it is the ultimate goody...others...OMG...but those of us in the antique business love the hunt. It is not like regular retail where one can sit with a catalog and order...and, for the customer, we cannot get 2 more of the item...no slow boat from China coming with this inventory!

This week I saw some iron urns tucked under and next to a piece of furniture. The furniture section sells last so I had to camp out for awhile, but I knew these were worth the time.

I tend to avoid cast iron items inside the shop...something about a cast iron pot around my antique yellowware bowls gives me pause. But, doorstops and bookends are all right, and so are garden pieces. Rarely do I see the garden urns show up at auction because I think most of the time they sell with the house. But there they were...2 large and 2 smaller ones.
Cast iron is simply iron that is poured into a mold...pots, pans, fences, garden urns. Iron was not common until people figured out how to get the furnace hot enough to melt the iron...guess who figured it out first? China! Of course! In 513B.C.! England managed to perfect the technique around 1100 A.D. Now pots could be made by making molds out of sand and pouring molting metal into the mold.

My research uncovered an interesting tidbit. In 1776, Adam Smith, in his book, The Wealth of Nations, noted that the actual wealth of the nation was not its gold but in its manufacture of pots and pans. (Wonder what he would say about T-Fal?) Cast iron cookware was highly valued in the 18th century. George Washington's mother thought so much of her cookware she made special note to bequeath her cast iron in her will. In their expedition to the Louisiana territory in 1804, Lewis and Clark indicated that their cast iron Dutch oven was one of their most important pieces of equipment.

The Victorians loved their gardens, and they bought cast iron with abandon. The picture above shows a heating grate from the Victorian era. The coal mines near Pittsburgh fostered the manufacturing of much of the iron. As the Arts & Crafts movement replaced the Victorian era, pottery replaced cast iron, and it is obvious in many of the vases made throughout the early part of the 20th century.

Although cast iron is not fragile, it does need some care. Paste wax will arrest the rusting process on surfaces of outdoor pieces (apply in the late fall and mid-spring). Also, repainting - or painting - does not effect the value of the piece.






Of course, most readers are familiar with Keats' "Ode to a Grecian Urn," but as a writer, I have kept this William Faulkner quote in my collection...
“If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the Ode on a Grecian Urn is worth any number of old ladies."

Fortunately, you do not have to trade in your Mum or Granny for any of these, cash will suffice!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Ain't That Ducky

and other spring pots...

I know "ain't" coming from an English teacher's fingertips is rather outrageous, but it was actually a 1945 Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoon featuring Daffy Duck. I thought these little ducky cache pots were appropriate for the Easter season.

I love cache pots (or cachepots). The term traces its roots to Old French meaning an ornamental container for a flowerpot or literally pot-hider. Of course, if you are a computer geek, cache is now "a fast storage buffer in the central processing unit of a computer." I like pot-hider so much better!

Flower pots with no drainage fall into this category. They were usually gift vases or planters and had liners sometimes. I just love the whimsy...There are all kinds of these planters...







All for fun...





And, in the spirit of the season, hope your day is full of love, family, and relaxation!
Not a planter, but whimsical..."NB" (Noisy Boy~if you heard him, you would know why the name!) in the ivy! Happy Spring!