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Stahl’s Pottery County, Pa. Although in this
case, the Medinger family did
Continued from page 1 not stop production at the turn
County, Pa., a red earthenware of the 20th century and contin-
business that supplied local ued to produce pottery under
homeowners with utilitarian Jacob Medinger (1865-1932).
pottery for their daily household Production eventually ceased
needs. Charles was a second when Jacob died from a tragic
generation Pennsylvania kiln accident. It was reported in
German and trained under John area newspapers, proclaiming
Krauss, who operated his own that all of the Pennsylvania
business in nearby Upper German potters were now gone.
Milford Township. These events served as a The sgraffito plate was decorated by
The forms manufactured at source of inspiration, because in Carrie (Stahl) Schultz at the Stahl
Charles’ business included 1933, Isaac and Thomas chose to Pottery in 1936, with an American flag,
crocks, pots, pans, plates and re-establish the family business, an eagle, tulips and a German inscrip-
bowls. In the heyday of the com- This is Charles Ludwig Stahl but they also decided to change tion around the border. The back is
pany, as many as 20 assistants (1828-96). some of the production style to inscribed “Made at the Stahls Pottery
were employed at the pottery. made by the Stahls became accommodate fancier decora- The Stahl Pottery kiln as it appears today. (Inset) Carrie (Stahl) Schultz and September 22, 1936, C.S.S.” Image
Author Susan L.F. Isaac wrote quite collectible and even tive wares. In some ways, this Russell Stahl in front of the Stahl Pottery kiln in 1985. The kiln and its courtesy Conestoga Auction Company.
about the history of the Stahls in received some published recog- business was comparable to surroundings have changed very little.
1987, citing that “some of the nition. The Stahls found that the John Bell’s (1800-80) 19th-cen-
assistants were itinerant Irish wares, which were originally tury pottery in Waynesboro, Pa., burning wood. Some of the The Stahl Family Legacy
potters, who reportedly did pro- priced at only a few pennies, though the Stahls were more more desired production from The wares made by the
duce pottery. When the day was were now selling for at least a daring in what they produced. this era includes large vases, Stahls are included in many
over, they might make a fancy dollar, and in some cases, much Production was more colorful urns, pottery decorated with Pennsylvania museum and pri-
ring vase, and indeed a dam- more. This was a rare occur- and creative. There was even a historical figures like Abraham vate collections today, a tradi-
aged ring vase was found in the rence. Most American utilitarian sense of modernism. They Lincoln and George Washington, tion that continued when the
workshop attic.” potters never lived long enough began to sign just about every various styles of sgraffito, Stahls reinvigorated the family
In the 1870s, Charles taught to see their wares transition piece of pottery and typically objects decorated with applied business in the 1930s. Very few
three of his sons the pottery from how they were used as inscribed a description, as well. decorations, tobacco jars, com- family-oriented American pot-
craft, training Isaac (1872-1950), their intended purpose to being Nevertheless, color was clearly potes, and various wares deco- ters actually existed in the 19th
James (1860-1943), and Thomas thought of as collectible. In fact, a point of emphasis when some rated with tulips and floral work century and managed to main- This plate made by Isaac Stahl,
(1863-1942). When Charles died in the early 1930s, Isaac report- objects were decorated with as in slip and sgraffito. tain success and viability into decorated with a tulip in the center, is
in 1896, Isaac took over, but only edly attended an auction, which many as seven colors, all of With the rebirth of the busi- the 20th century. The Stahls may dated 1941, ex. Breininger collection. It
a few years later James became is where he saw pottery created which were typically masterfully ness came a third generation: have gone out of business sold for $889 in 2011. Image courtesy
owner. The family business by his family and also the applied. Russell Stahl (1911-86) was the shortly after the turn of the 20th of Pook & Pook Inc.
closed in about 1903. Medinger family selling for sur- An interesting aspect about youngest son of Isaac’s and century, but I cannot recall
As the years passed, wares prisingly high amounts. some of the decoration accom- began learning the craft in the another family pottery that was
The Medingers plished in Powder Valley during 1930s. He took a hiatus in the able to reinvent itself 30 years
were located rough- this period is that Thomas’ 1940s, during service in World later.
ly 35 miles from daughter, Carrie (Stahl) Schultz War II, but returned to work at When Isaac and Thomas
where the Stahls (1908-85), was responsible for the pottery in 1946. He worked reopened around 1933, in many
operated. A well- creating some of the sgraffito alongside his father for a few ways they created a lasting
known, still consid- decoration. She also manufac- years and took control some- renaissance movement in the
ered revivalist oper- tured some of the whimsical time around 1948, operating it tradition of Pennsylvania
ation (operating in animals. Her skill was perhaps by himself until 1953. The last German craft pottery. This was a
the style of period similar to Mary Elizabeth Bell kiln firing reportedly happened period where this type of classic
18th century and (1829-1914), daughter of John in 1956, and Russell decided to production could have disap-
early 19th century Bell, who also decorated some spend the next two decades peared. They ultimately kept a
craft), they were in of the wares in the late 19th cen- managing a nearby hotel. Many long-standing culture of craft This sgraffito bowl made by Isaac
Limerick Township, tury. Females decorating tradi- of the objects that sold at the alive, where other customs had Stahl, decorated with a bust of George
Isaac (left) and Thomas (right) are signing pieces of M o n t g o m e r y tional pottery are not exactly onsite Stahl estate sale in the already disappeared elsewhere Washington and dated 1947, is also
pottery in the 1930s. the norm for utilitarian red summer of 1987 had been left in the country. The Stahl family ex. Breininger collection. It sold for
earthenware made in America, since the 1950s. pottery is a special tradition, a $1,126. Image courtesy of Pook &
but both of these businesses do The Stahls, notably Russell, tradition which influenced pot- Pook Inc.
share that connection. influenced Lester Breininger ters over many decades, some
The Stahls managed to pro- (1935-2011), a Pennsylvania of whom are still practicing their
duce a large amount of pottery German collector, potter, and craft today.
during this period, largely businessman from Robesonia, Special thanks to the Stahl’s
P.O. Box 500, thanks to their kiln. Built in 1933, Pa., who often visited the Stahl Pottery Preservation Society for
Mount Joy, PA 17552 the giant kiln could reportedly site. He ran a well-known pot- saving this history and publish-
800-800-1833 hold as many as 2,000 pieces of tery business throughout the ing so much information about
717-653-1833 pottery, which was powered by later half of the 20th century. the history of the Stahl family
717-653-6165 fax Neighbor antiques dealer Greg pottery.
e-mail: antiquesnews@engleonline.com Kramer and Breininger were
good friends. A collector of epic
Editor - Karl Pass, 717-278-1404
e-mail: kpass@antiquesandauctionnews.net proportions, Breininger
acquired a lot of redware over
Advertising Sales the years from Kramer. There This sgraffito bowl made by Isaac
John Barilla, Ext. 2536 was a museum-like area dedi- Stahl, decorated with a bust of
Arlene Bair, Ext. 2561 cated to Stahl pottery at the Abraham Lincoln and dated 1947 is
Circulation - Linda Deshler, Ext. 2541 Breininger property, still ex. Breininger collection and sold for
Classifieds referred to by many as Taylor $1,304. Image courtesy of Pook &
1-800-428-4211 Fax 717-492-2566 mansion. In November 2011, Pook Inc.
Sample copy ........................... $2.50 Pook & Pook held a large sale of Here is a Stahl Pottery dish that I Photos courtesy of the
Doing
1 YEAR, third class ............... $28.00 the Breininger collection, gross- purchased years ago while driving Stahl’s Pottery Preservation
Our Part ing over $2.1 million. Ensuing through central Pennsylvania. The Society Inc. (SPPS) unless
1 YEAR, first class ................. $80.00 This is Carrie (Stahl) Schultz years witnessed nine onsite back of the dish is inscribed, “Made by
6 MONTHS, first class .......... $48.00 otherwise noted.
decorating a sgraffito plate at the Stahl sales held by Conestoga Auction I.S. Stahl Sept. 1838 S.P.” Image Sources:
All checks must be in U.S. funds. Pottery. Company. courtesy of the author. Bartlett, Louisa. A Cultural
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