In the collecting world, the Hull Pottery Company is best known for its Little Red Riding Hood dinnerware collection of the 1940s and its high-gloss art pottery of the 1950s. Other popular items include its toiletry jars for Old Spice, vases, and baskets for the florist industry, piggy banks, and lamps.
The Hull company has an interesting history and a slew of popular product lines. Find out more about the company, its unique identifying marks, and tips for spotting reproductions.
Growth of the Company
Addis E. Hull acquired the Acme Pottery Company in Crooksville, Ohio, in 1905 and renamed it the A.E. Hull Pottery Company. Like other early pottery companies, Hull got its start making utilitarian items such as stoneware, semi-porcelain dish sets, and decorative tiles among other useful household goods.
Leading up to the 1920s, the company branched out into art pottery using a wide selection of colors and glazes and expanded its business locations. In addition to the Crookvsville factory, Hull opened a showroom in New York, offices in Chicago and Detroit, and a warehouse in New Jersey.
When A.E. Hull died in 1930, his son Addis E. Hull, Jr., took over as manager. He continued with the company until 1937 when he left to take the reigns as general manager of Shawnee Pottery, a Hull competitor. Gerald F. Watts took over as the manager of Hull.
After a disastrous flood in 1950, the Hull plant burned down. Its great reputation kept it afloat in the two years it took to rebuild its new factory. Under the new leadership of J.B. Hull, production resumed to its greatest levels—100,000 items per week. Through the 60s, 70s, and 80s, the company maintained its reputation for quality. However, in its final years, Hull faced mounting foreign competition and multiple labor strikes and, unfortunately, closed in 1986.
Hull's Popular Productions
One of Hull's biggest endeavors was the production of 11 million pottery containers for Old Spice's shaving and cologne products for men in 1937.
Most collectors consider Hull's work from the late 1930s through the 1950s to be its best. This includes many clever figural cookie jars introduced in the early 1940s. The Little Red Riding Hood line is the company's most popular line (many copycats and reproductions abound) among these figural works.
Art pottery lines made during the 1940s featured floral decor with a matte pastel finish. The company also made a variety of figural pottery vessels for use by the florist trade from the 1940s through the 1960s.
After the flood and fire of 1950, most of the items produced by Hull after the reopening had a glossy finish. The pottery ware featured patterns that were very popular in the 1950s, such as the Tropicana, Woodland, Parchment, Flora, Continental, and Pine lines.
From the late 1960s through the 1980s, the company's mainstay was its House 'n' Garden line, which featured durable, casual dinnerware in brown, tangerine, green agate, and butterscotch.
Hull Pottery Marks
The earliest Hull (circa 1910) mark included a wreath with a number (signifying a gallon size) and the Hull name on utilitarian jugs and jars. Other Hull stoneware pieces from the early 1900s were marked with a capital “H” inside a circle or a diamond shape, which was incised into the ceramic material.
Pre-1950 vases are marked “Hull USA” or “Hull Art USA” on the base and may still have paper labels as well. The embossed beautiful flowing script "Hull" was first used in 1949 on the company’s Woodland line. Other Hull lines such as Coronet also used a script trademark. Pieces made after 1950 were marked “Hull” in large script or “HULL” in block letters.
In addition, each pattern has a distinctive letter or number associated with it. For example, the Wildflower pattern has a “W” and a number, while Poppy has a number in the 600s. The famous Red Riding Hood line was incised with "Hull Ware Little Red Riding Hood" on its base. Hull started using a lower case "hull" in the 1960s on the House ‘n' Garden lines. A copyright symbol (c in a circle) was added to some later productions.
There are dozens of Hull marks and variations that were used over the years on its various types of pottery. For further review of these marks, take a look at "Warman’s Hull Pottery Identification and Price Guide" by David Doyle or "The Collector’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Hull Pottery" by Brenda Roberts.
Identifying Fakes and Reproductions
Many Hull pottery items have been reproduced ranging from wall pockets (decorative hanging vases) to piggy banks to Red Riding Hood cookie jars. Most reproductions are easy to spot.
In many cases, the color is vastly different or the details in the decor do not match the original designs. Also, if you study the marks closely, poor reproductions fail to resemble the original Hull marks.
However, there is one reproduction that is hard to distinguish from the original. The Hull Pottery Association reports that the Hull Bow Knot B-29 basket can almost fool an expert. The color and detail work is right, but if you measure it, the size is wrong. The genuine article is 11 3/4 inches tall, while the fake is 10 1/16 inches tall.