Hall Teapots - Part I

by Verona Greenawalt
Volume 21 No. 6 - February 1995

Editor's Note: This article is condensed from a program presented to the Greater Tulsa Depression Era Glass Club.

Let me start off by saying that Hall teapots are as close to my heart as glass is. I'm a true collector - I don't deal in these, so Teapot I've paid a lot of retail prices for my teapots. I can't really say that my mother got me interested but I grew up with a Hall teapot in the house. It happened to be the one pictured here. Or rather, one like it - mother still has hers. I like the color of it. That's kind of what started it. There were the special times when she would get it out and make hot tea and we would sit down and have tea. I always thought it was neat that we had a special teapot for that.

Now I didn't know It was a Hall or whose it was - that didn't really matter to me. About three or four years ago, my husband and I went out antiquing, and on a shelf in an antique mall, I spotted a teapot. I thought, "that looks a lot like Mom's." Through the years I had learned that hers was a Hall, so I turned this one upside down and said "Wow! This is a Hall, too." It happened to be our wedding anniversary and this teapot was my anniversary gift. That started the Hall teapot collection.

As my collection began to grow, I became interested in the history of the Hall China Company. Several books are available on the subject and my research uncovered the following:

After the dissolution of a 1901 unsuccessful merger of pottery companies, Robert Hall bought the old East Liverpool Pottery Company in 1903 and renamed it the Hall China Company. On August 14, 1903, in East Teapot Liverpool, Ohio, three oven kilns were fired and thirty-three potters began making combinets (a combination chamber pot and slop jar) and bedpans. Bowls, Jugs and mugs were soon added to develop a utilitarian and institutional line of whiteware.

In 1904 upon the death of Robert Hall, his son, Robert Taggart Hall, became president of Hall China Company. He soon began work on developing a single-fire process to produce ware that would be craze-proof. (Craze is the minute cracks in the glaze, which form when the glaze is applied over fired clay, and one or the other contracts more quickly.) The single-fire process would allow the glaze to penetrate the body and prevent crazing. This process was known to exist during the Ming Dynasty in China, but was not recorded.

The next seven years were spent in rediscovery and in 1911 a lead-free glaze and a firing temperature of 2400 degrees Fahrenheit resulted in a china which was non-porous and craze-proof. The Hall China Company was on the road to becoming a growing success. Two colors, stock brown, and stock green, were developed.

The outbreak of World War I in 1914 opened new markets, including restaurants and hotels, giving Hall the opportunity to extend their line into manufacturing steam-table inserts, coffee-urn liners, casseroles, coffee pots and tea pots. In 1920, three teapots from the institutional line, the Boston, New York and French shapes, were chosen to be decorated with gold for a store promotion, and thus was born, Hall's famous teapot line.

Hall China has a formulated composition of eleven materials. These include a mixture of flint, feldspar, and several different clays, some imported. This carefully balanced mixture is combined with pure water, forming the slip, then passed through sieves to remove any undissolved and large particles. The slip is then passed over a magnetic separator to discard all metallic substances which would cause discoloration or loss of quality in the ware. The slip is then agitated, pumped into Twin teapots driers where, under extreme pressure, the water is removed forming cakes to be aged and placed in pug mills for expelling all air. The composition is now ready to be shaped. Bowls and flatware are formed on potters wheels, by hand, by a person known as the "jiggerman."

For our teapots, water is added to form a specific consistency and poured into molds. All handles, knobs and feet are applied by hand. The ware is dried for twenty-four hours at approximately 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, before the special lead-free glaze is applied by hand dipping or spraying. The glaze permeates the body of the ware and during the firing process will become inseparably fused. This prevents Hail China colors from fading and the glaze will not craze. The ware is set onto cars passing through the kilns, beginning with a moderate temperature at the entrance, increasing to 2400 degrees Fahrenheit at the center and cooling down to a moderate temperature at the exit. The ware is then sent to the decorating department to be stamped and decorated.

Then are three different types of decoration: stamping, lining, and decals. In stamping, gold or silver (actually platinum) is suspended in a liquid medium and the designs are applied with a rubber stamp. The piece is then placed In a moderate kiln where the medium burns away, leaving the design.

Lining is exactly that. Gold, silver, or colors are applied by hand with a brush, usually on handles or spouts.

Decals were applied by brushing the ware with varnish, placing the decal, and smoothing it with a stiff brush. The piece then goes to an 1800 degree Fahrenheit decorating kiln, where the decal backing and the varnish burn away. The inks of the decal meld with the glaze.

Most Hall pieces were marked, some with an embossed HALL, some with an applied backstamp, and some with both. The backstamps assure authenticity and help the collector determine the age of a piece. The Hall China logos illustration at right shows six Hall backstamps. The explanation is as follows:

  1. The earliest known Hall mark, used from 1903 to the early teens.
  2. Used from the early teens to the late 20s. The words "Made in USA" are sometimes missing.
  3. The most commonly found mark. Used from October 1930 until the early 1970s. The words "Made in USA" or a pattern name may be stamped below.
  4. Used on all kitchenware produced after 1932. Sometimes has a pattern name stamped below.
  5. Used on all dinnerware. It was modified for pieces produced for Jewel Tea Co. and Great American Tea Co.
  6. This mark has been used from 1972 to present.

Occasionally a piece will be found with no backstamp. These are generally pieces which were seconds and were meant to be destroyed, but were instead carried home by employees.

Continued next month ...