The A. E. Hull Pottery Co. was respectably middle aged when Red Riding Hood put it on the map. Founded in 1905 in Crooksville, OH, the company manufactured a full line of stoneware, garden ware and art pottery lines used by florists nationwide. Although never in serious competition with art pottery giants such as Rookwood, their pastel floral designs, particularly those finished in a matte glaze, were popular during the 1930s and ‘40s. and remain so today.
By far the most popular line to come from the factory was Red Riding Hood. The figural cookie jar was produced first in 1943, a time when Hull had no foreign competition due to wartime import restrictions. This piece proved so popular that other Red Riding Hoods followed: banks, butter dishes, creamers, pitchers, salt and peppers, even teapots. Red Riding Hood figurals continued production in production until the mid 1950s.
Hull developed art pottery lines primarily along floral themes. Magnolia, Calla Lily, Orchid, Open Rose and Wildflower were among the patterns where the flower appeared on the piece, often against a dual colored background in a soft matte finish. Blue shaded to pink, yellow shaded to rose, pink shaded to turquoise were but a few of the glazes used. Both matte and gloss glazes were used successfully until 1950, though the softer matte finishes predominated
From the 1940s through the 1960s, if you received a plant or flower bouquet from a florist, chances are it was contained in a Hull pot. Figural planters such as baby carriages, lambs, love birds or swans proliferated and are still readily found.
In June of 1950, a disastrous flood inundated the Hull pottery plant, causing the red-hot kilns to explode. The resulting fire completely destroyed the factory. The factory was rebuilt form the ground up, and modern equipmen was added to replace earlier machinery.
Unfortunately, it was discovered that the matte finish customers had found so desirable could not be duplicated with the new equipment. The company reworked some of the older patterns using gloss finish… for example, the Woodland molds were turned around from the originals and continued in high gloss. Hull also created many other new patterns, such as Parchment and Pine, Sunglow, Ebb Tide, Serenade, and Tuscany, all developed before 1960 and using the duo tone finish.
Eventually, Hull discontinued art pottery, turning to produce dinnerware and more utilitarian wares. All production ceased in 1986.
Prices for Hull pottery remained modest with few exceptions until about a decade ago. Now you can expect to pay hundreds for the scarce Red Riding Hood figurals. Many of the pstel floral lines such as Dogwood, Iris, and Tulip are also eagerly sought. Typically, the pre-1950 Woodland and other high glaze pieces command the highest prices.
Who would have thought that pottery once found in the 5 and dime store would bcome collectable? But then, who makes such unique pieces today? -Barbara Williams Sackett
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