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The Hall China Company: More than 100 Years of Exceptional Design & Production
© Michael Pratt
- I believe firmly in the need to coordinate the many pieces of a dinner service into a happy family of shapes. And although each piece must have this intangible family relationship to the others, each shape must also have individual interest and stand on the merits of its own design. Eva Zeisel, 1951.
Eva Zeisel, the 20th century 'doyenne' of ceramic design, firmly believed that dinnerware would no longer be relegated to useful function only, but would, someday in the future, be proudly displayed as beautiful, decorative objects. This has certainly become a reality. As the number of Zeisel enthusiasts continues to grow, displays of her production dinnerware in homes, including those lines of Hall manufacture, are afforded the theater and near-reverence often given to modernist sculpture. (Shown to the left, Tri-Tone refrigerator ware by Hall China.)
Several of Zeisel's exceptional dinnerware and kitchenware lines for Hall China will be covered later in this article. You will discover a Hall modern kitchenware line designed by Don Schreckengost and several lines manufactured by Hall China for Ernest Sohn. All things modern aside, one would be remiss to mention the perennial appeal among those more conventional, of the Hall teapot. A wall display of Hall Aladdin teapots, as an example, can be quite impressive, even to one without traditional sensibilities. That having been said, let's first explore some history of East Liverpool, Ohio potteries and the Hall China company.
East Liverpool, Ohio, situated along the Ohio river across from Newell, West Virginia, has the distinction of being the oldest pottery center in the United States. The beginning of the pottery industry in East Liverpool, is generally attributed to James Bennett, an English emigrant who established his pottery in 1839-1840, with the assistance of several individuals, including Benjamin Harker. While Bennett's first pottery building was only 800 square feet in size, East Liverpool's pottery industry, by 1905, would become one of the country's foremost pottery centers, boasting 239 kilns, producing over seven million dollars in ware, and employing over 9000 people.
According to one account, East Liverpool's innovations in the mass production of pottery, predated mechanization even in England by nearly a decade. The pioneer pottery manufacturers at East Liverpool [Ohio] were the first in the world to relegate to oblivion as a commercial factor the potters' wheel by the introduction of machinery and labor-saving devices.
While Hall China Company was not established until shortly after the turn of the century, its original physical plant and location have historical ties to the beginnings of the pottery industry in East Liverpool.
The West, Hardwick & Company's pottery (East Liverpool) was founded in 1866. Plant facilities, were purchased from William Brunt II, descendant of a well-known pottery manufacturing family. The factory was the upper end of the famous Woodward Blakely & Company (est. 1849), located along Walnut Street, from East Third to East Fourth Street. West, Hardwick & Company was purchased by Lincoln Morley in 1884, naming it the Lincoln Pottery and doing business under the name Morley & Son. The company floundered and the Lincoln Pottery Works was purchased by Robert Hall, Sr. (1846-1903) and John W. Hall (1843-1917), both successful lumbermen, along with Monroe Patterson, an iron founder. The new company was called the East Liverpool Pottery Company and was established in 1894. In January 1900, Monroe Patterson sold his 1/3 interest in the company to Robert Hall, who now owned 2/3 of the company.
In 1901, The East Liverpool Pottery merged with four East Liverpool pottery companies: the Globe Pottery Company, Wallace and Chetwynd, the East End Pottery Company, the George C. Murphy Company and one Wellsville, Ohio firm: the United States Pottery Company. The result was the East Liverpool Potteries Company.
The East Liverpool Potteries Company failed to meet expectations, and by 1903, four companies returned to independent operation, leaving the Globe Pottery and the United States Pottery to continue on, briefly, as the East Liverpool Potteries Company. Robert Hall, Sr. accepted the former East Liverpool Pottery building of West, Hardwick & Company as his portion of the distributed assets during the 1903 breakup.
Early Company History
On 14 August 1903, thirty-eight days after acquiring the plant located on the southeastern corner of East Fourth and Walnut streets in East Liverpool, Robert Hall, Sr. established the Hall China Company. The firm was established and incorporated with $100,000. Robert Hall, Sr. never had the opportunity to see his company succeed. He died on September 24, 1903, before the Hall China Company produced its first dinnerware.
Robert Taggart Hall (1877-1920), the son of the company's founder, assumed control of the firm's management, sharing ownership with John W. Hall and Charles Hall (1874-1937). By the end of 1903, the plant was renovated, with the original intent of producing a full line of dinnerware by 1904. Production of dinnerware actually began in 1908 and continued through 1914. Reintroduction would not occur until many years later.
The original Hall plant had 3 periodic (beehive) kilns and less than forty employees. Products included combinets, spittoons, bed pans, mugs and jugs. Though the new company struggled to survive during these early years, Robert T. Hall had a dream, that when realized, would ensure the success of the Hall China Company for years to come: the development of a single-fire ware.
Ware that is single-fire implies that both bisque and glaze must produce a suitable product with one pass in the kiln: bisque must not crack and glaze must not craze. A single firing is less labor and resource intensive, giving the firm a definite manufacturing and pricing advantage over competitors. A product that doesn't craze with heating or cooling is also a superior product and would give the firm a definitive sales advantage in the marketplace.
Robert T. Hall knew that a single-fire china had been made during China's Ming dynasty (A.D. 1368-1644), but the knowledge had been lost. He knew that one key to success involved the elimination of lead. Over the next eight years research was done that finally culminated in the discovery of a secret single-fire process that would produce such a superior product. The method involved firing leadless ware at a higher temperature of 2400 degrees Fahrenheit.
By January 1909, Robert Hall and R. J. Meakin began toying with the idea of building a 10 kiln pottery in Bartlesville, Oklahoma which would have meant that Hall China Company would leave East Liverpool, Ohio. By April, they decided not to leave for Oklahoma and by July that same year, Hall decided to manufacture only underglazed dinnerware.
Robert T. Hall shared the presidency of Hall China from 1911 until 1920, alternating the position each year with Francis I. Simmers (1866-1957). While Simmers was president, the firm added, in late 1919, a second plant (No. 2 plant) located at Broadway and 6th Street, the former Goodwin Pottery plant. The Goodwin Pottery plant was reputed to be the first 8-kiln pottery west of the Allegheny Mountains, having been operated by the Goodwin Brothers until 1912. The site was originally home of the Broadway Pottery Works built in the mid-1800s and in 1872 John Goodwin, with his sons Henry, George, and James acquired the facilities.
The No. 2 plant facilities had been occupied by the Davidson-Stevenson Electric Porcelain Company. After the Davidson company moved to Chester, West Virginia, the plant, was acquired by Hall, being renovated during the first half of 1920 and placed into operation that July. The entire output was initially fireproof teapots and later included cooking and institutional wares. This acquisition would effectively double Hall's production capability.
After Robert T. Hall's death in 1920, F. I. Simmers continued to lead the company as president for several decades. Other important company executives included Malcolm W. Thompson (1893-1978), who joined the company in 1930, and later served many years as treasurer and general manager. Joseph R. Thompson (1896-1968) came to Hall in 1925 and eventually became secretary and sales manager. Also joining Hall's sales department in 1925 was R. H. Simmers, son of the president.
Hall would use its secret process to become the largest manufacturers of fireproof cooking china in the world. Their specialty was the teapot. Here is an excerpt from a trade advertisement from 1924:
Hall's China teapots stand in a class by themselves. It is true that collectors may find more appealing and unique specimens among the high-priced and rare pieces in thin china. Hall's Teapots are designed for the tea lover rather than the teapot collector.
Today, Hall's teapots have also become a prize for the collector. The ad continues:
Hall's Teapots are made both for tea brewing and serving. An absolutely vitrified, non-absorbent body with its impervious, craze-proof glaze guarantees purity and full flavor at all times. Body and glaze are fired at one time, by a secret process known only to The Hall China Company, at a temperature of 2400 degrees.
The body of the teapot was described as being both dense and thick-walled, allowing tea to remain hot even to a third cup. Finally, the ad concluded, Hall's Teapots have come to be known everywhere as the teapots of taste and quality.
An addition to the No. 1 factory was made to increase warehouse space in 1926. The new space was procured from a section of the former Brunt Pottery. The new space was said to allow the company to keep an increased inventory, permitting faster shipment of product. A three-kiln plant situated in the west end of East Liverpool, formerly owned by the D. E. McNicol Pottery Company, was then acquired and integrated into operations in 1927. An addition to the plant, increasing clay casting capacity, was begun shortly after acquisition. This new Hall China plant No. 3 produced soda fountain jars.
On 21 acres near the Ohio river, the Allegheny foothills in the background, a new plant was constructed in 1930 made of fireproof brick and steel. The actual 21 acre property consisted of a 13 acre tract, a seven acre area, and 15 lots on Harvey Avenue and Elisabeth Street, with dimensions of 1,500 feet by 500 feet. Some of the land was used to allow railroad access to the site.
The plant, located in the far eastern end of East Liverpool, just a few blocks from the Smith-Phillips China Company factory (American Chinaware Corp.), was 680 by 250 feet. The structure was designed by well-known industry architect Bernard H. Prack of Pittsburgh. Three modern tunnel kilns were installed to double production capabilities. The project, costing $750,000, was officially opened on 17 December 1930, although about forty workmen were already working in the clay room. Full production at the facility would necessitate about 250 workers. Proceeding with the plant construction during the depression was said to demonstrate the company's profound faith in the country's economic recovery.
The company ordered two Dressler tunnel kilns used for firing brown, green and white ware. One kiln was specifically ordered to allow the production of brighter and more delicate colors. The other tunnel kiln was a Robertson kiln, used in the production of special white articles.
Plant No. 1 was closed December 1st, transferring out existing mould machinery and other equipment. Plant Nos. 2 and 3 continued operations until early 1931, when employees were moved to the new facility. Plant No. 2 and a section of plant No. 3, which had been two of the oldest facilities in East Liverpool, were razed later that year. Demolition of plant No. 1, at Walnut and East Fourth streets in East Liverpool was begun late in 1932 and completed in 1933.
An eighty page catalog was prepared for customers in 1930. The catalog listed the company's line of teapots and other specialty items. A novel feature of the pamphlet was a color chart that listed ten new glaze colors in which Hall would be able to quickly produce any item. Colors were described as underglaze and permanent. The purpose of giving the consumer color choices, was to target individuals that wanted ware that would specifically blend with their home decor.
In 1932, Robert Thompson Hall (1906-1959), commenting on the advances made at Hall during the three prior decades, remarked: Years ago this company started with the manufacture of a few plain shaped teapots in a limited color range. Once before the public, Hall Pots began to build the reputation of fine quality and long service. Simple beauty in the beginning finally grew to an advanced stage of widespread artistic achievement.
He continued, explaining that demand created by quality conscious consumers soon led to a wide range of available colors on a large variety of ware. Hall Teapots were available in color harmony with even the most modern table service.
Robert Thompson Hall stated that quality Hall China then found a natural progression in the production of heat-resistant cookware: casseroles were introducedfirst round and oval shapes, then many other styles. After these, more items were introduced, including coffee pots, baking dishes, refrigerator pans, pitchers, custard cups, and a line of bowls. With that having been said, Hall announced that his company would introduce in 1933 a line of twenty-six kitchenware items with an ivory background that were particularly adaptable for every modern kitchen.
The ware was declared to be the first new innovation in cooking ware in a decade with a fine china delicacy, simplistic and appealing decoration, innovative and graceful shapes, and a non-crazing fireproof body. This one-fire ware came with a two-year guarantee against cracking or crazing from heating or refrigeration.
By November 1933, in the heart of the depression, Hall China was operating their new plant at full-capacity. Increased orders for teapots and cooking ware necessitated operating the third kiln, which hadn't yet seen production. In the fall of 1934, the Hall China Company completed a plant expansion of the facility built in 1930. Adding 45,000 square feet brought floor space to nearly 215,000 square feet, the new space intended primarily for warehouse space. The original plant was designed so that future expansion could be accomplished without sacrificing manufacturing efficiency. The company maintained an inventory valued at one million dollars during this time. Products included decorated teapots, institutional ware, serving and kitchen accessories, ash trays, spittoons, vases and soda fountain items.
In 1930 Hall China Company reported 10 periodic kilns. By 1935 they had switched to 3 tunnel kilns. In 1938, the number of tunnel kilns increased to seven. In 1936, dinnerware was once again introduced to the Hall product lineup, answering the needs of faithful Hall consumers who had seen Hall China through the depths of the depression. (Shown to the right: Hall Melody teapot in Emerald, 1939.)
Middle Company History
John T. Hall (1908-1981) assumed the presidency in the mid 1950s and lead the company through much of the mid-century into the 1970s. Everson Hall (1913-1964) served as vice-president. Robert Thompson Hall also served as vice-president at one point in the company's history. Malcolm W. Thompson continued as treasurer and general manager.
Hall China Company, Today
The Hall China Company has stood the test of time, continuing to make wonderful home and commercial products. The Hall China Company is the largest manufacturer of specialty chinaware, offering more than 700 chinaware shapes and sizes, in a variety of colors. Visit the Hall China Company online.
Eva Zeisel's Modern Dinnerware
Of great interest to the modernist is the work done by Eva Zeisel (1906- ). Zeisel, one of the most celebrated ceramic dinnerware designers of the 20th century, is known to possess a formidable intellectual comprehension of the history, philosophy, and science of art and design. She draws on this wealth of understanding to create designs that are not just aesthetically pleasing and functional, but works of art when displayed individually and a family of shapes when set with sibling pieces.
Zeisel breathes life into her creations with qualities that go beyond the monotony of traditional dinnerware forms. She considers both the inner and outer space of her ware's architecture. Shadows, reflections, and interaction among items was considered as one might who cares intimately about family relationships and interactive harmony.
Zeisel puts the "for" back into form; that is, she never forgets "for whom" she is creating. Each item is an experience--both visual and tactile. Shapes demand attention. Items have an allure that beckons the distant observer to move into the foreground and merge the hand intimately with the ceramic body. As the hand naturally falls into alignment with the intended ergonomic flow, a delightful, intimate and natural experience is created. Dining becomes an experiential treat.
While other designers were laboriously following the edict "form must follow function," Zeisel's utilitarian shapes put the "fun" back into function. Her ware demonstrates an easy humor and playfulness that make her creations, familiar friends. Masterful works of art individually, dinnerware items belong to a larger peaceable kingdom of creatures. These innovative and beguiling shapes share motifs that flow effortlessly and naturally from one item to the next, as if alive and talking with one another. This is particularly noticeable in the line she created for Red Wing Potteries (c.1946), Town & Country.
At the Brooklyn Museum's 1957 exhibition, Table Settings: The Old with the New, Zeisel (whose Hallcraft Tomorrow's Classic and Century earthenware were on display), was quoted as saying:
- Since we see the things of the past, and in turn those who design after us see our work, it seems to be obvious that our designs link the past with the future. However a strong New Movement' turned against the past, and put new truths against old.' These new truths were: Genuine materials, identity of form and function, and the expression of the designer's individuality and mood.
Of particular interest to the modernist is a Zeisel line produced by Hall China called Hallcraft Tomorrow's Classic. The Hallcraft line was introduced to the consumer market in January 1952 (a Tomorrow's Classic creamer is shown to the left). Hallcraft was designed for every day use and was quality semi-porcelain dinnerware. Such production was made possible because of many techniques that took Hall 18 years to develop. The secret single-fire process, used in making Hall's world-famous teapots, was also used in the manufacture of this line.
Zeisel was asked, after completing designs for Tomorrow's Classic, what can American consumers and retailers of the fifties look forward to in the field of modern dinnerware design? She responded: Particularly in our homes of contemporary design, where there is a special need for accents of warm color and beauty, truly modern dinnerware will again represent art in our daily lives!
Elaborating, Zeisel predicted that young moderns' would desire subtler motifs than the bold decorative treatments that were currently in vogue. She also foresaw an evolution of mid-century dinnerware architecture: In form also, I feel a change will be seen, and that the trend of organic melting shapes will give way to gently flowing lines with a classic tendency.
This seems to explain the progression of Zeisel's Town & Country shapes into the more classically constrained Tomorrow's Classic. Flowing, elegant contours bring modern inspiration to classical styling.
The Midhurst Importing Company (129 Fifth Avenue, New York) was tapped to distribute Hallcraft to the retail market. Previously, Hall China had been distributed through mass distributors to the wholesale trade. The Midhurst Importing Company, known for marketing European wares to America, would now market a domestic product to consumers. The Midhurst China Company, as it was soon became known, ran ads that hailed Tomorrow's Classic as a durable, high-fired product that could be mix-and-matched: white pieces were encouraged to be juxtaposed with solid colors or decorated items.
The line was comprehensive, featuring 41 items. Besides typical serving items, the service included short and tall candle sticks, a bud vase, and a double egg cup with one round end and one oval end. Many serving pieces featured lug handles for easy gripping. The Tomorrow's Classic coffee pot was introduced to the 1953 market. It was lauded as a symphony of linefrom its graceful fitted lid to its well rounded base. Said to be perfectly balanced, pouring was easy and graceful.
True to the multi-purpose theme, popular during the mid-century, the line was advertised as one of the most versatile lines. One advertisement clearly explained the multiple uses of some of the items:
- The A. D. sugar: sauces, syrup, gravies, candies, nutmeats, jams & jellies, flowers, plants, and growing bulbs; celery dish: entrees, hors d'oeuvres, canapes, sweetmeats, relishes, plants & bulbs; vinegar cruet: French dressing, oil, lemon juice, bud vase, wine & demitasse carafe; gravy boat: candies, nutmeats, sauces, flowers, ivy planter, knitting yarn holder; platter: roasts, fowl, seafood, sandwiches, layer cakes, serving tray, buffet; open vegetable: tossed salads, fruit chips, centerpieces, curried entrees.
Aesthetics was perfectly matched with innovative ergonomics, particularly noticeable in the Tomorrow's Classic's lids, which featured free flowing, curling finials. The teapot and coffee pot lid handles allowed the flat hand to fit easily for pouring and stabilization. The hand, drawn almost magically into natural position, created intimate contact with the pouring vessel, clearly intended to heighten the drama and experience of pouring.
Several variations of a double-winged finial can be found on Tomorrow's Classic's lids. The butter, onion soup, and sugar have butterfly wings that complement the symmetry of the holloware's body and are easily grasped between the thumb and 2nd or 3rd fingers. The butterfly motif is also repeated with the vase, the gravy boat, and short candle stick tops. The marmite's single-handle, double-sided pinch finial is located at one end of the lid, and emphasized the asymmetrical integrated handle theme that is found on the ash tray, coupe soup, baker, A. D. cream & sugar and large salad.
A Gump's advertisement in the San Francisco Chronicle (1953) announced: The Contemporary Elliptical Shape in China by Eva Zeisel. While the dinner plate and bread & butter plates were an interesting oval shape, they contrasted well with the cup & saucers' round circular design.
Prior to Tomorrow's Classic's introduction at the Pittsburgh Show, Zeisel explained that while modernists were fond of white and undecorated shapes, this line's decorative treatments approached a fine arts level and that they would be more widely received. Commenting on dinnerware ornamentation, Zeisel remarked:
- All decorations have but one aim and one justification for their existence: they must heighten the enjoyment and pleasure of using the dishes. Though perfectly contemporary in feeling, they must convey friendliness and hospitality.
She noted that modern decorative treatments were sometimes blatant. Zeisel continued:
- In my new dinnerware [Tomorrow's Classic] I have attempted to keep the decorations dainty and small but detailed. Through their laciness, the white of the pottery interplays with their warm and expressive colors.
In this modernist's opinion, Hallcraft White still best displays the silhouette and symphony of Zeisel's shapes. More common abstract decorations include Fantasy, Harlequin, Lyric, Arizona, and Dawn. Holloware was also made in solid colors of Satin Black. A hard-to-find and appealing modernist design was Studio 10 (shown above), designed by John Carlis; rarer still is Palo Dura. The Arizona and Dawn decorations were designed by renowned abstract expressionist, Charles Seliger. The decalomania for Buckingham, which featured the stylized iron fence work and trees around Zeisel's New York basement studio, has been attributed to Erik Blegvad, while Pratt students Ross Littell, Douglas Kelley, and William Katavolos created Fantasy. More traditional botanicals include Bouquet, Flair, Caprice, Frost Flowers, Spring, Romance, Holiday, Mulberry, Peach Blossom, Raintree, Festive, Autumn, Burbank, Chantilly, Beaux Arts, and Dusty Rose. Antique Letters, a decoration featuring alphabet letters in a baroque style was introduced c.1962.
A trade advertisement from the Canadian China & Glass Company, Ltd. has been found that called Hallcraft , Modern Craft. The decoration in this particular ad shows a traditional rose pattern, Queen's Rose. It is unknown what patterns were distributed north of the border.
A program for marketing Hallcraft was designed that included numerous marketing tools: 1) a Hallcraft lug platter-shaped peg board that could be hung on walls or free standing and would hold examples of dinnerware, 2) newspaper advertisements, 3) a miniature Hallcraft platter (3 x 5) with the Hallcraft back stamp, 4) TV and radio scripts for local commercials, 5) pattern brochures (3 3/8 x 6) that were available in color or black & white with space for store identification, and 6) glossy photos (8 x 10).
The same year as Hallcraft's introduction (1952), Eva Zeisel introduced her Silhouette glassware, manufactured by Bryce Brothers, at Sun Glo Studios. According to Zeisel, the line probably represented the first time that glassware actually evolved from the forms of dinnerware. For this reason, Silhouette's design motif easily coordinated with Hallcraft ceramics.
The glassware was a full lead crystal and available colors included smoke amber, green, chartreuse, cerulean blue and amethyst as well as transparent crystal. At least four sizes are known: juice/cocktail/wine, goblet, ice tea/hi ball, and sherbet/on the rocks/old fashioned.
Casual Living and Tri-Tone
In December 1954, a new line of fireproof cooking and kitchen accessories was introduced to the trade for the 1955 market. Another Eva Zeisel creation, Casual Living featured a satin seal brown finish set off by white interiors and lids decorated with a festive modern abstract. Twenty-two items were available including a cookie jar, bean pot, side handle teapot, covered casseroles and tureens, and a large pitcher. Highly sought after by collectors, the freeform refrigerator pitcher with lid, is quintessentially modern (shown to the right).
One of today's most highly prized modern kitchenware accessory lines was then introduced on Zeisel's refrigerator shapesTri-Tone. A glossy white ware was decorated with pink glaze applied at an angle on one side and with a blue glaze in a mirror image fashion on the opposite side. A gray color formed where both colors intersected on the body and the frontal effect was a colorful v-shaped stripe. A matching gray glaze colored the tops of the flattened round circular finials and lids. Tri-Tone included all the available Casual Living items with the addition of five different sized mixing bowls.
Zeisel refrigerator shapes have also been found with a matte finish and a blue and brown abstract decoration against white. The pattern is identical to the Flight decoration that one trade journal announced for a modified Century line. Only a few items have currently been found in this line, and therefore it is unknown whether this pattern was a test or sample pattern, or it actually saw limited production. The decoration is attributed to Zeisel's own work.
Century was an elegantly sculpted dinnerware line, unmistakably the work of one of the world's greatest masters of ceramic art and design, Eva Zeisel. Hidden beneath Century's breathtaking profile was an advanced ergonomic system that was natural and refined. Combined with its elegant, modern styling, the line possesses a timelessness that does not reveal its many decades of age.
Century was introduced at the New York Gift Show (Hotel New Yorker) and the Pacific Northwest China Show during August 1956 and the following month at the Dallas Gift Show (Santa Fe Building). Promoted as being irresistible beauty, quality, and value, the line could be utilized just as easily for fine dining as for serving a casual buffet.
Dinner plates featured a rounded tear-drop shape, with a sculpted asymmetry that still catches the mind off-guard and a simplistic beauty that remains beguiling. The innovative lug end flows effortlessly into the body of the plate, permitting easy handling. Double-ended lugs form symmetrical short wings in the covered dish, salad bowl, vegetable bowl, relish dish, soup-cereal, platters, and fruit. These items are remarkably easy to carry and ensure a more elegant delivery to the table.
Century's covered vegetable and teapot have lids that gracefully extrude into an innovative pinch knob. The salt and pepper have narrowed curving tops that reiterate the lug motif, while allowing the hand to merge into the shape of the shaker. The relish and double vegetable have an elevated central divider that furnishes an enhanced, unexpected theatrical appearance. A snack set was added to the line in 1957. It consisted of a single-lug plate with off-center well and a cup.
The line was originally introduced in undecorated white and Garden of Eden, Sunglow, and Fern. Century White best displays the inherent beauty of the line's form and is highly esteemed. Garden of Eden, an oriental paradise of exotic vegetation and tropical birds in variations of gray, while more traditional in decoration, is also appreciated by today's collector of modern dinnerware. Fern rendered stylized leaves in mulberry, olive-green and soft blue on a field of light gray. The blue also decorated the inside of cups and other holloware items. Sunglow depicted a stylized tree with falling leaves, utilizing yellow accents on the inside of holloware.
Summer 1957, it was announced that a round coupe plate that would replace Century's lug motif. The modified line was to feature two additional decorations to the line--Flight, a fantasy floral abstraction in blue and brown and Dolly Madison, a floral border motif. The Flight decoration has also been found on the refrigerator shapes created by Eva Zeisel.
Ernest Sohn & Ernest Sohn Creations
During the 1950s through the early 1970s, Ernest Sohn (1913-2006), an industrial designer and charter member of the Industrial Design Institute (along with Henry Dreyfuss, Raymond Loewy, and others) created many modern ceramic designs, often combined with metals, that gained national and worldwide audience. Many of the quality ceramic pieces designed by Ernest Sohn at this time, were actually manufactured by Hall China.
In the Summer of 1951, Sohn formed Ernest Sohn Associates, with a showroom at Room 1039, 225 Fifth Avenue, in New York City. By December, Jack Orenstein, who had been sales manager for Everlast Metal Products Corporation, organized a new company, Jack Orenstein Associates. It was announced at this time that the company would develop new home accessories using aluminum, stainless steel, wrought iron and ceramic and would exclusively market Ernest Sohn Associates, Inc. ware. Showroom for the new firm were also located at 225 Fifth Ave. in New York City.
While some of Sohn's ceramics were unmarked, many carried a rectangular mark that read Ernest Sohn Creations. Vestaware (c. 1957) included simply-styled buffet accessories with wooden stands and warmers. Riviera (c. 1960) was a buffet service featuring gently swooping lid caps that extended the graceful line of the sugar and coffee pot body. Riviera was available in White, Cast-Iron Gray, Magenta, Yellow or Azure. Many other ceramic lines and giftwares were created by Sohn, but are too numerous to mention here. Many line names remain unknown, as the photo shown here.
Always of interest to the modernist, is the work done by the eminent designer, Don Schreckengost (see Homer Laughlin and Royal China). Don Schreckengost, whose genius was matched by his graciousness, worked as lead designer for Hall China Company up until his death a few years ago. During the mid-1960s, he designed a Hall line that demonstrated a consumer trend toward increasing ornamentation Super-Ceram. This kitchenware accessories line retained the honesty of mid-century modern design with a bit more ornamentation angular handles and a molded rib decoration in the ceramic body. The line was both functional and appealing. Super-Ceram was available in several decorations, but is most commonly found in Sno-White. Items included oval, round, and square covered casseroles; sauce servers; a covered water pitcher; souffle bowls; and an automatic, electric percolator.
Sources for this article include but were not limited to the following:
American Pottery Gazette
Casual Living brochure
China, Glass and Decorative Accessories
China, Glass and Lamps
China & Glass Journal
Crockery and Glass Journal
Don Schreckengost, conversations, interviews, correspondence
Edwin Atlee Barber, The Pottery and Porcelain of the United States, 3rd edition revised, (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1909)
Ernest Sohn interview and correspondence
Everson Hall interview, 22 Mar. 1954 as cited by Jerry F. Hyder, History of the Hall China Company, (Westminster College BA thesis, May 1954)
Gump's Advertisement, San Francisco Chronicle, 11 May 1953
Hallcraft Century brochure
History of the Hall China Company, The Bulletin of the American Ceramic Society, Vol. 24, No. 8, 15 Aug. 1945. Industrial Design
Jerry F. Hyder, History of the Hall China Company, (Westminster College BA thesis, May 1954)
History of the Hall China Company, The Bulletin of the American Ceramic Society, Vol. 24, No. 8, 15 Aug. 1945
Martin Eidelberg, ed., Eva Zeisel: Designer for Industry, (Montreal : La Chateau Dufresne, Inc., Muse des arts Decoratifs de Montreal ; Chicago : distributed by the University of Chicago Press, 1984)
Riverview cemetery records, Carnegie Public Library, East Liverpool, Ohio
Robert T. Hall, New Line of Kitchenware on Exhibit for First Time, Crockery & Glass Journal
The Gift and Art Buyer
The Pottery, Glass & Brass Salesman
Tomorrow's Classic, Hallcraft Brochure, 1 Jan. 1956
Trade advertisement, unknown source
W. B. McCord, ed., History of Columbiana County, Ohio, and Representative Citizens, (Chicago: Biographical Publishing Company, 1905)
William C. Gates, Jr. and Dana Ormerod, The East Liverpool Ohio Pottery District: Identification of Manufacturers and Marks Journal of the Society for Historical Archaeology 16, nos. 1-2 (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Braun-Brumfield, Inc., 1982)