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Hall China History

The Hall China Company

HallFactory1940Catalog

     The Hall China Company was established on August 14, 1903, as a result of the dissolution of the East Liverpool Potteries Company. This company had been formed in 1901, through the merger of six small East Liverpool area potteries. The six independent companies included: The East End Pottery, The East Liverpool Pottery Company, The Globe Pottery, The George C. Murphy Pottery, Wallace and Chetwynd Pottery from East Liverpool and the United States Pottery of Wellsville, Ohio. Robert Hall, a member of the board of directors of the East Liverpool Potteries Company, bought one of the companies — the former East Liverpool Pottery Company — located in the old West, Hardwick, and George building at Fourth and Walnut Streets in East Liverpool, Ohio. Initially, thirty-eight potters were employed at three kilns to produce spittoons and combinets and a limited amount of dinnerware. In 1904, Robert Hall died and his son, Robert Taggert Hall, became manager. Robert T. Hall kept the plant operating by producing primarily toilet sets, jugs, and other white ware. At the same time he experimented endlessly to rediscover a lost process from the Ming Dynasty (A.D. 1368-1644) in China, which would allow him to produce non-lead glazed china with a single-fire process. This single-firing would allow the glaze to penetrate the unfired body, creating a craze-proof finish. Robert T. Hall experimented from 1904 until 1911 before he finally achieved success. His new process created a colorfully glazed china which was strong, non-porous, and craze-proof. The new technique fused together the white body, color, and glaze when it was fired at a temperature of 2400˚F. The resulting product was very dense, did not absorb moisture, and held heat well.  The new single fire process combined with two other driving forces to propel Hall China ahead of the many competing potteries in the area. The first significant change was the addition of Francis I. Simmers to the management team. Mr. Simmers held the title of sales manager and alternated every other year as president with Robert T. Hall. The second factor was the start of World War I, which cut off European imports and expanded Hall's domestic market exponentially. As the company continued to grow, and the institutional line expanded, more space was needed for increased production. Hall satisfied this need through the acquisition of part of the former Brunt Pottery plant via sheriff's sale in early 1917. The plant was located across the alley from the Hall plant. A bridge was built over the alley to provide convenient access. Again in need of more space, Hall bought the former Goodwin plant at the corner of East Sixth and Broadway in 1919. The company took possession of the plant in January, 1920 and planned to have six kilns in operation by the middle of the year.  A line of gold decorated teapots was also introduced at this time and it became an instant success. By 1922, Hall claimed the titles of “the largest teapot manufacturer in America” and "the largest manufacturer of fireproof cooking china in the world."

     The Hall World was shaken abruptly on the morning of November 18, 1920 with the sudden death of Robert T. Hall at age 43. Francis I. Simmers immediately assumed the role of president of Hall China and progress continued virtually uninterrupted. He held this position until 2 years before his death in 1957 at age 90. Continued expansion occurred with the addition of another plant in 1927.  The successful addition of their Gold Decorated Teapot Line in the early 1920s and a new line of soda fountain jars introduced in 1927, pushed the capacity of these plants to the limit.  In 1930, a new plant was built on the east side of East Liverpool and the three old plants were abandoned. The Hall China Company is still operating in this plant today. This new plant enjoyed numerous expansions during the thirties and early forties as production boomed with the intense concentration on decal dinnerware and  kitchenware patterns. In 1933, Hall China introduced decorated kitchenware, teapots and coffee-pots. In 1936, they decorated dinnerware was added to the line.  Once again, production is targeted primarily at institutional and commercial customers.  However, in 1985, Hall re-introduced some of its old kitchenware and teapot shapes for the retail trade. Also, of great interest to many collectors are the limited edition Autumn Leaf pieces which have been made for both a private company and the National Autumn Leaf Collector’s Club. In addition, Hall China has produced numerous old shapes  and several early decal patterns for China Specialties over the last several decades. These pieces are generally marked with the China Specialties backstamp and should not be confusing to collectors. In many ways Hall China has remained viable by adapting to meet the special needs of its customers.

     Beginning in 2010, Hall China became a member of HLC, Inc, and joined with Homer Laughlin of Newell, West Virginia, to become a dominant power in the institutional market.

The China Process

     The manufacture of Hall China begins with a secret powdered mixture of flint, feldspar, and several different types of clay. These ingredients are mixed with water in a machine. The resulting slip is passed through separators which remove metals and other foreign objects. The mixture is then pumped into presses which squeeze out the water, leaving clay in a cake form. The cakes of clay are then aged and pressed through pug mills which remove air from the clay. The clay is then shaped by a “jiggerman” on a potter’s wheel to form flat pieces and bowls. To produce pieces such as teapots or jugs, water is added to the clay, and the resulting slip is poured into a mold. The raw ware is allowed to dry for twenty-four hours at about 100˚F. Then the special leadless glaze is applied by either spraying or hand-dipping. The glazed items are placed on cars which move slowly through a kiln. The temperature of the ware is slowly increased to 2400˚F. This intense heat causes chemical changes in the body and glaze materials which allows the color to set. The fired china is then inspected for defects and the good pieces are sent on to the decorating department. Decorating is done by either hand-painting or by transferring decals or prints to the ware. The finished product is then refired in a smaller oven at a lower temperature. Decals were a very popular method of decoration during the thirties and forties. Since only pieces of larger decals were sometimes used on smaller items in a pattern, it is sometimes difficult to associate these pieces with the rest of the items in the pattern. Careful comparison will usually result in a positive identification.

Identification of Hall China

HallEarlyBackstamps

Pictured above are several backstamps which may be found on the bottom of early (pre 1920) collectible Hall China pieces. Backstamp #1, is the Early Hall China backstamp, that is found on most of the non dinnerware items such as much of the utilitarian white ware and some early dinnerware sets. Backstamps #2 is a mark that has been found on some specialty commemorative or advertising plates. These marks were used until the early teens.  Marks #3 and#4 are specific to their respective dinnerware patterns.

HallChinaBackstamps5

Mark #5 appears on most of the items made from the early teens to the late 1920's. “Made in U.S.A.” is sometimes found in the center of this mark. Some pieces may have either letters or numbers in the center of the mark. Examples are illustrated as #5-A and #5-B above. Early Gold Decorated Line teapots produced during this period will often bear this mark.

HallChinaBackstamps678

Mark #6 is the backstamp which is found most frequently on items of interest to today’s collector. The words “Made in U.S.A.” will sometimes appear below the circle. Registration of the mark occurred on February 10, 1930, and use of the mark began in October 1930. This mark was used extensively from the early 1930s until the 1970s and will be found on most items except kitchenware and dinnerware. These two categories have special backstamps that are sometimes used in conjunction with mark #6. Mark #7 was used on kitchenware produced after 1932. This mark was usually stamped in gold, but will also be found in black, blue, green, and perhaps a few other colors. Occasionally a pattern name will also appear in conjunction with this mark. Backstamp #8 was reserved for Hall dinnerware.

HallChinaBackstamps9to12

Mark #9 was modified slightly for use with the dinnerware produced for the Jewel Tea Company and for the Orange Poppy and Wildfire patterns of The Great American Tea Company. Autumn Leaf dinnerware had “Tested and Approved by MARY DUNBAR — JEWEL HOMEMAKERS INSTITUTE” in the circle. Mark #10, was used on Autumn Leaf kitchenware. Mark #11 had the Great American Golden Key symbol inside the circle and the Wildfire mark *12 acknowledges the 100th anniversary of Great American with the number 85.

HallChinaBackstamps13to16

Other pattern or line specific backstamps were used by Hall China in the 1940's and 1950's. Dinnerware pieces of Cameo Rose, which was made for Jewel, featured mark 13. Mark #14 was used on pieces of the Mount Vernon pattern made for Sears. Marks # 15 and #16 appeared on the back of the Classic and Century  Eva Zeisel lines sold by Hall in the 1950's.

HallChinaBackstamps17to20

In addition to the printed backstamps, some items will be found with “Hall” impressed in large block letters as pictured in marks #17 and #18. Many of the kitchenware pieces with this mark will date to the early 1930s or before. Institutional pieces were also commonly marked in this manner. Much of the Hall China produced since the early 1970s has the #18 square TV screen style backstamp. Use of this mark began on January 6, 1969 and the mark was officially registered on February 20, 1969.  Certain special marks have also been used on limited edition pieces of collector interest produced for such organizations as the National Autumn Leaf Collector’s Club and private companies such as China Specialties. Mark #19 is an example of a backstamp used by China Specialties on pieces Hall made for them. Mark #20 was used on teapots made in 2003 to commemorate Hall's one hundred year anniversary. Numerous other special identifying marks were reserved for certain pieces, patterns, or companies for which Hall produced china. Fortunately, for collectors, most of Hall’s items have an identifying backstamp. With the exception of shakers, lamps, some coffee pots, and special orders most of the unmarked pieces of Hall were seconds and never reached the decorating room.   Paper labels were also used for identification by Hall China. However, since most items were used heavily, not much Hall China is found with paper labels still intact. Paper labels are helpful in identifying lamps which Hall made for the White Lamp Company and others. The only way to identify these lamps as Hall is by their paper label, since there is no backstamp.  Numerous other backstamps which are peculiar to a particular pattern or special application will be found.

Hall China Special Catalog 1939

Hall China General Catalog 1940