Hall China, A Century of Durable Design
by Holly Regan from Antique Quarterly

Hall China, particularly their teapots have become a passion for collectors of all ages. Their Autumn Leaf line, produced for the Jewel Tea company, is perhaps their most well known line, and is still very popular today, especially among people who grew up using it. It remains in production, but the pieces are marked with a new, rectangular backstamp and are easily distinguished from the pre-1970s items.

Robert Hall founded the Hall China Company of East Liverpool, Ohio, in 1903; sadly he died within a year of its creation, and his son, Robert T. Hall, took over. The first production items were functional white ware: spittoons, jugs and a small amount of dinnerware.

Robert T. Hall was obsessed with finding a lost Chinese process dating to the Ming dynasty which would allow the non-lead glazed china to be fired just once, but would create a strong, craze-proof finish. He finally recreated the process in 1911, and began experimenting with dinnerware. (Some of their earliest dinnerware looks remarkably like Haviland Limoges, incidentally.) The focus remained on institutional lines, at that point in time. It wasn’t until 1930, when a new plant was built, that the lines most popular with today’s collectors came into the fore.

Hall china is identified by shape, by decoration (decal or painting), as well as color in some instances. For example, the same decal- like Crocus for example- was found on multiple teapot shapes.

Hall Autumn Leaf is the subject of a separate reference book all by itself. It was the first line decorated with decals, and began production in 1933. The first blank used was the “Ruffled-D style”. Hall was commissioned by the Jewel Tea Company of Barrington, Illinois for the production of Autumn Leaf, and the company continued making it until 1976.

Some other blanks used for the Autumn Leaf line were Sundial, Radiance, and Rayed among others. Many other non-china items were produced with the same Autumn Leaf pattern- tins for flour, tablecloths, even a metal highchair. A collector setting out to obtain all the pieces possible in the pattern faces a daunting task indeed, but collecting enough to set the table with is usually within reason. Hall has been releasing some limited edition pieces of Autumn Leaf recently, which are clearly marked as new, and are quite collectable in their own right.

A myriad of other dinnerware patterns with different decals (and usually on several blanks) were produced in the same time period. Crocus, Orange Poppy, Game Bird, Homewood, are just a few names you’ll run across.

Other important dinnerware patterns by Hall deserving of mention are the creations of Eva Zeisel. The shapes she created for the company were Century and the insightfully-named Tomorrow’s Classic. She was a free-lance designer in the 1950s. She and her associates also created nine decal patterns for Hall. Century was a service of 24 pieces, in a very ‘50s sort of futuristic style, with curving line and elongated shapes.

Tomorrow’s Classic had 40shapes, and looks fairly similar in style to Century. Century is very hard to find compared to Tomorrow’s Classic, but isn’t incredibly high priced. Eva Zeisel designs are easily identifiable by their remarkable shapes and the backstamp, which lists Eva Zeisel as the designer.

Despite the popularity of the dinnerware by Hall, the teapots, especially the Gold Decorated line, have an almost fanatical following by collectors today. Rare teapots often exceed book value by quite a bit, even in today’s more conservative collector’s market.

Let’s discuss the popular Aladdin shape as a good example of a Hall teapot. It does look a bit like the eponymous lamp- swirly handle and all. (They come without the genie, however.) There are undecorated examples, meaning they have a single base color like Ivory, Pink, or Maroon, which are the easiest to find. Then there are the decorated examples- the decorative gold decals referred to as Gold Labels can greatly enhance value, as there are some extremely rare ones.

There are multiple patterns of Gold Label decorations as well, like Swag, Daffodil, etc. Gold “standard” decoration is a simple line of gold around the body and handle. Godl “special” decoration refers to the spout and handle being covered with extra gold, in conjunction with the line on the body.

The combination of Orchid color with Gold Label decoration in Swag is one of the rarest- the book value is $800-$1000.Th Aladdins also came in the Autumn Leaf decal, and with various other dinnerware line decorations. And there are variations within the shapes- some came with infusers, which are more desirable, and the shape and sie of the opening in the pot can vary.

There are a remarkably large number of teapot shapes, most with the same types of decorations as the Aladdin example. The company produced football shaped teapots, World’s Fair commemorative teapots, teapots with music boxes hidden beneath, a seashell-shaped Nautilus teapot, a birdcage shaped teapot, a basketball teapot, a donut teapot, “Tea for Two” dual teapot sets, and much more. An avid collector can spend a lifetime amassing a Hall teapot collection and still not scratch the surface of all the variations on color and decoration.

Hall continues to do business today, and has (as previously mentioned) reissued past favorites like Autumn Leaf, Orchid, and various teapots. Luckily for collectors, the company scrupulously marks the new issues very clearly, usually with a date too, to avoud any confusion. Thus the price on the originals has not dropped, as has happened to other areas of collecting when collectors cannot tell the difference between new and old suddenly. In fact the new Hall re-issues are very popular in their own right. However, for the most part, Hall has gone back to its roots and is mostly doing institutional china today.

There are many resources for new and advanced Hall collectors: The Collector’s Encyclopedia of Hall China 3rd Edition by Margaret & Kenn Whitmyer, Hall China by Jeffrey B. Snyder. All are available for sale through myantiquemall.com, and can be found in our malls in our Collector’s Bookstores.

Looking for Hall China? Call us?
Star Center Antique Mall in Snohomish, WA
(360) 568-2131 / myantiquemall@gmail.com