Pfaltzgraff Pfacts Pfaltzgraff: The Second Generation

Right: "Lady Killer" salt-glazed stoneware crock by John B. Pfaltzgraff, circa 1855-1880.

'Lady Killer' salt-glazed stoneware crock by John B. Pfaltzgraff, circa 1855-1880

Salt-glazed stoneware from the Pfaltzgraff brothers' potteries, 1855-1889 Salt-glazed stoneware from the Pfaltzgraff brothers' potteries, 1855-1889.

By the time Johann George and Elenora Pfaltzgraff sold the Freystown pottery in 1848 they had seven children. They would have ten in all. In 19th Century America, farmers and craftsmen relied on family members to supply much-needed help in the fields or, in the case of the Pfaltzgraffs, in the pottery. All five of Johann George and Elenora's sons would therefore become skilled potters.

Upon Johann George Pfaltzgraff's death in 1873, his land was divided among his widow Elenora and their children. The five sons, John, George, Cornelius, Henry and Isaac, would continue as potters. There are no known examples of the work of Cornelius or Isaac (who died at the young age of twenty). The Pfaltzgraff archives, however, contain a rich collection of pieces from the potteries of John, George and Henry.

The earliest known samples of Pfaltzgraff pottery are by John B. Pfaltzgraff. An advertisement from an 1872 York newspaper claims that his Manchester Pottery supplied "all kinds of earthenware." By this time, however, John, George and Henry Pfaltzgraff had all begun to import (probably from Ohio) higher quality clay than the local red clay. Their customers -- the farmers, merchants and small industries of South Central Pennsylvania -- began to favor stronger salt-glazed stoneware pieces over their traditional earthenware. The Pfaltzgraffs needed to adapt, or risk the future of their potteries.

This ability of the Pfaltzgraffs to adapt and to develop new products and new manufacturing technology would be fundamental to the growth and success of Pfaltzgraff potteries and businesses to the present day. As the Pfaltzgraff brothers expanded their potteries and business horizons, the nineteenth century Industrial Revolution was changing the United States from a farm-based society to an urban, manufacturing-driven economy. And so in 1889 George and Henry Pfaltzgraff created a partnership that would grow into the Pfaltzgraff Company.