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Kurt C. Russ
The Remarkable Stoneware of George N. Fulton, Circa 1856-1894

Ceramics in America 2004

Full Article
Contents
  • Figure 1
    Figure 1

     hotograph of George N. Fulton, ca. 1867–1875. (Courtesy, Alleghany County Historical Society, Virginia.)

  • Figure 2
    Figure 2

    Storage jar, Fulton Pottery, Alleghany County, Virginia, 1867–1885. Salt-glazed stoneware. H. 10". (Unless otherwise noted, all objects are from the author’s collection and photos are by Gavin Ashworth.) A one-gallon straight-sided storage jar with elaborate brushed manganese floral or tree decorative motif and signature

  • Figure 3
    Figure 3

    Churn, Fulton Pottery, Alleghany County, Virginia, 1867–1885. Salt-glazed stoneware. H. 14 3/4". This cobalt decorated churn is embellished with a large floral element with two upright leaves highlighted with dots, two “3” indications of vessel capacity, and a “G. N. Fulton” signature highlighted by two wavy bands. Note the similarity of this decoration and that on the jar depicted on the left in fig. 16.

  • Figure 4
    Figure 4

    Churn, Fulton Pottery, Alleghany County, Virginia, 1867–1885. Salt-glazed stoneware. H. 17 1/2". (Private collection; photo, Kurt Russ.) A five-gallon churn with elaborate brushed manganese dioxide floral decoration highlighted (or overpainted) with cobalt oxide, including a centrally placed floral spray surrounded by leaves, a “5” indicating vessel capacity, and a large signature.

  • Figure 5
    Figure 5

    Beer or water cooler, George N. Fulton, David Parr’s Pottery, Richmond, Virginia, 1856. Salt-glazed stoneware. H. 29 1/4". (Courtesy, The Greenbrier; photo, Gavin Ashworth.) A monumental twenty-gallon beer or water cooler. The incised word “Painted” appears on the vessel to the right of the arrows in the eagle’s talons and strongly suggests that Fulton was involved with the vessel’s decoration, if not manufacture.

  • Figure 6
    Figure 6

    Reverse of the stoneware cooler illustrated in fig. 5, showing brushed blue cobalt floral decoration at the shoulder and horizontal flowers on either side. These long multipetaled, single-bloom horizontal flowers seem to characterize vessels from Parr’s pottery, often appearing below the maker’s stamp on the reverse of the vessel and/or beneath its handles.

  • Figure 7
    Figure 7

    Detail of the cooler illustrated in fig. 5, showing an incised and cobalt-decorated eagle with spread wings and opposing banners extending from the beak reading, “DAVID PARR” and “MANUFACTORY.” The shielded chest contains the date “may 15 1856,” and the banner in its left talon reads “GEO. N FULTON.”

  • Figure 8
    Figure 8

    Detail of the stoneware cooler illustrated in fig. 5, showing the extruded crescent-shaped applied handle brushed with blue cobalt, well-formed rim, and treatment at the shoulder, as well as incised and cobalt-filled floral vines at handle terminations and an incised “20” (indicating vessel capacity) above two opposing incised leaves.

  • Figure 9
    Figure 9

    Grave marker or tombstone, Fulton Pottery, Alleghany County, Virginia, ca. 1874. Salt-glazed stoneware H. 42 1/2". (Photo, Kurt Russ.) The hand-modeled stoneware tombstone contains a tree-of-life motif in relief.

  • Figure 10
    Figure 10

    Reverse of the grave marker illustrated in fig. 9, showing incised inscription, “Sacred to the Memory of Davis 2 Boys” and brushed manganese decoration, which is barely visible because of poor contrast with the tombstone color.

  • Figure 11
    Figure 11

    Miniature jar, Fulton Pottery, Alleghany County, Virginia, 1881. Salt-glazed stoneware. H. 3 1/4". Incised “G. N. Fulton 1881.”

  • Figure 12
    Figure 12

    Map showing the location of Fulton’s Pottery (44ay184) and Waddell’s Pottery (44ay185) near Boiling Spring in Alleghany County, Virginia (from 7.5 minute U.S.G.S. Jordan Mines Quadrangle Map).

  • Figure 13
    Figure 13

    Examples of Alleghany County pottery. Left: Jar, T. R. Waddell, 1850– 1870. Salt-glazed stoneware. H. 13 1/4". Right: Jar, G. A. Brown, 1850–1860. Earthenware. H. 8 1/2". Both of these examples bear the impressed marks of their makers.

  • Figure 14
    Figure 14

    Fragment of a cake crock, Fulton Pottery, Alleghany County, Virginia, 1867–1885. Salt-glazed stoneware. (Courtesy, Laboratory of Archaeology, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia.) Partially reconstructed from sherds excavated at Fulton’s Pottery Site (44ay184), Alleghany County, this vessel exhibits brushed manganese floral decoration and the capacity designation “2.”

  • Figure 15
    Figure 15

    Canning crocks or jars (also known as wax sealers), Fulton Pottery, Alleghany County, Virginia, 1867–1885. Salt-glazed stoneware. H. 9" and 10". The quart-size jar at left is brushed with manganese floral or tree decoration and the signature “G. N. Fulton” near the base. The slightly larger jar at right is brushed with blue cobalt floral decorative motifs, including flowers, leaves, and horizontal bands enclosing the centrally placed signature.

  • Figure 16
    Figure 16

    Storage jars, Fulton Pottery, Alleghany County, Virginia, 1867–1885. Salt-glazed stoneware with cobalt decoration. H. 9 1/4" and 9 1/2".

  • Figure 17
    Figure 17

    Storage jars, Fulton Pottery, Alleghany County, Virginia, 1867–1885. Salt-glazed stoneware with manganese brushed decoration. H. 10" and 7 1/4".

  • Figure 18
    Figure 18

    Jug, Fulton Pottery, Alleghany County, Virginia, 1867–1885. Salt-glazed stoneware. H. 12 1/2". A semi-ovoid jug with brushed blue cobalt decoration, including a drooping flower, the initials “G.N.F.,” and a “1 1/2”-gallon capacity designation.

  • Figure 19
    Figure 19

    Bowl, Fulton Pottery, Alleghany County, Virginia, 1867–1885. Salt-glazed stoneware. H. 5 7/8". A bowl with approximately one-half-gallon capacity embellished with brushed blue cobalt floral decoration, horizontal squiggly bands, and a full signature.

  • Figure 20
    Figure 20

    Milk pan or shallow bowl, Fulton Pottery, Alleghany County, Virginia, 1867–1885. Salt-glazed stoneware. H. 6 1/8". This robust, wide-mouthed vessel has brushed manganese floral decoration and the signature “G. N. Fulton” above its base.

  • Figure 21
    Figure 21

    Cake crock, Fulton Pottery, Alleghany County, Virginia, 1867–1885. Salt-glazed stoneware. H. 9 3/4". This straight-sided vessel is decorated in cobalt blue with a horizontally oriented floral spray, a centrally placed signature, and, near the base, double crosshatched marks enclosed by two horizontal wavy lines with a “3”-gallon capacity designation in the center. Compare the decorative embellishment at the base with that executed in manganese on the churn illustrated in fig. 26.

  • Figure 22
    Figure 22

    Pitchers, Fulton Pottery, Alleghany County, Virginia, 1867–1885. Salt-glazed stoneware.  (a) H. 10 1/2". A one-gallon pitcher with a well-defined beaded rim, horizontal blue lines at the spout flanked on either side by blue flowers, and the signature “G. N. Fulton” above brushed cobalt floral motifs.  (b) H. 10". A one-gallon pitcher with a well-defined shoulder above three concentric incised bands, blue vertical lines on either side of the spout flanked by additional floral motifs, and wavy lines and floral motifs across the front of the vessel, the initials “g.n.f.,” and horizontal lines on the handle.  (c) H. 8 1/2". A pitcher with a prominent banded or incised rim, pronounced shoulder above two incised rings with two similar incised lines near base, and a well-defined base; cobalt decoration includes vertical stripes at spout, floral leaves, dots, and the initials “g.n.f.”  (d) H. 8 1/4". A half-gallon pitcher with a prominent rim, well-defined shoulder, two incised concentric rings around the upper mid-section and at 1/2" above the base, elaborate brushed cobalt floral decoration including dots, squiggly lines, and floral motifs around the rim, with lines and the initials “g.n.f.” above the floral motif.

  • Figure 23
    Figure 23

    Pitchers, Fulton Pottery, Alleghany County, Virginia, 1867–1885. Salt-glazed stoneware. Left: H. 9". The thinly glazed well-potted dark gray pitcher exhibits simple curvilinear floral motifs. Right: H. 7 7/8".The smaller, light-gray pitcher has textured salt-glaze and stylized floral motifs.

  • Figure 24
    Figure 24

    Churn, Fulton Pottery, Alleghany County, Virginia, 1867–1885. Salt-glazed stoneware. H. 16". This four-gallon churn is decorated with a brushed blue cobalt floral design and includes a centrally placed “palm” tree and signature.

  • Figure 25
    Figure 25

    Churn, Fulton Pottery, Alleghany County, Virginia, 1867–1885. Salt-glazed stoneware. H. 15 1/4". This three-gallon churn has a flaring rim and applied extruded crescent handles and exhibits a prominent brushed blue cobalt floral motif with blossom, “3,” and signature.

  • Figure 26
    Figure 26

    Churn, Fulton Pottery, Alleghany County, Virginia, 1867–1885. Salt-glazed stoneware. H. 17 1/8". A five-gallon churn with a flaring rim, well-defined collar, and applied crescent-shaped extruded handles exhibiting elaborate brushed manganese dioxide decoration, including both horizontally and vertically oriented floral motifs, a centrally placed “5” indicating vessel capacity, and the signature “G. N. Fulton” enclosed by horizontal wavy lines. At the base a series of squares with intersecting diagonal (or 45°) lines appear to form an artificial base, or platform, for the decorative embellishment above.

  • Figure 27
    Figure 27

    Jar, bowl, and pitcher, Fulton Pottery, Alleghany County, Virginia, 1867–1885. Salt-glazed stoneware. Jar: H. 8". A quart-size, straight-sided jar with folky manganese floral decoration, including a prominent blooming tulip resembling a musical lyre flanked by vertical floral vines on both sides. Bowl: H. 7 1/8". An approximately one- half-gallon bowl with a flat, flaring rim, three incised concentric rings, and rather detailed floral motifs, including flowers with dotted leaves and the signature “G. N. Fulton” at the base. Pitcher: H. 8". A quart-size pitcher with profuse manganese floral decoration and the signature “G. N. Fulton” at the base. The color of the manganese decoration, manner of execution of the decorative motifs with small fine-line, detailed brushstrokes, and the color of the vessels with a fine, well-processed clay paste suggest that these vessels may have been made and decorated by the same hand.

  • Figure 28
    Figure 28

    Jug, storage jar, and bowl, Fulton Pottery, Alleghany County, Virginia, 1867–1885. Salt-glazed stoneware. H. 14 3/4", 9 3/4", and 10". These Fulton stoneware vessels are embellished with brushed blue cobalt oxide and manganese dioxide floral decoration, and include the signature “G. N. Fulton.”

  • Figure 29
    Figure 29

    Sugar bowl, Fulton Pottery, Alleghany County, Virginia, ca. 1880–1885. Salt-glazed stoneware. H. 3 3/4". This diminutive, well-potted, thin-walled sugar bowl with brushed manganese floral decoration below the rim was found in Alleghany County. It was probably produced during Fulton’s last few years of production in Alleghany, when he was experimenting with some nonstandard forms, this piece being similar to art pottery pieces produced by his family in Ohio.

  • Figure 30
    Figure 30

    Jar, Fulton Pottery, Alleghany County, Virginia, 1867–1885. Salt-glazed stoneware. H. 8". Manganese floral decoration of Germanic tulip and associated leaves and vines.