SCHRAMBERG MAJOLIKA ‘ROBOT’ CACHEPOT
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A strikingly beautiful cachepot with knob handles and a relief decor awash in bright colors. This model is commonly called "Robot" for fairly obvious reasons, and was produced at the Schramberg Majolika factory
SMF SCHRAMBERG was originally founded as Faist'sche Steingutfabrik in 1820 by the stoneware expert Isidor Faist on the grounds of the abandoned Schramberg castle. By 1829 Faist and his factory had gained a good enough reputation to persuade the Baron Ferdinand von Uechtritz to join him as a partner under the new name Steingut und Majolikafabrik Uechtritz & Faist. With the financial backing of the Baron, the partners were able to build a new factory behind the castle, which drastically increased output. During the 1860's the company had a constant workforce of 100 people and an impressive number of nearly 6,000 home workers (decorators, etc.) which were mainly children and women. Starting in 1882 Faist began taking in orders from Villeroy & Boch who finally bought the Schramberg pottery in 1883 and continued to operate it as a V&B subsidiary into the early 20th century. In 1911 several of the factory buildings had to be demolished to make way for the local railway, which drastically reduced output and caused Villeroy & Boch to lose interest in the location, which they sold to the brothers Moritz and Leopold Meyer in 1912. It was the Meyers who introduced the 'SMF' mark and finally gave the business its enduring name Schramberger Majolika-Fabrik. In 1918 the business was changed from a proprietorship into a limited liability company (GmbH), and the transformation was complete.
The Meyer brothers were always looking for new talent, and many famous artists joined the factory or contributed designs in the ensuing years. Their decorative ceramics, stylized in lively color schemes, attracted great attention in the 1920s.
Eva Stricker-Zeisel was a prominent designer for the company from 1928 to 1930. Her designs were strongly influenced by the Bauhaus movement, and her modern form and decor designs gave part of the production program an avant-garde appearance. Eva Zeisel not only designed the shapes but also supplied the intended decorations for the pieces, although the decoration department would often adapt her decors to shapes for which they were not intended. They would even use them on shapes other than those designed by Zeisel, and put decors not of her design on her shapes. This happened particularly with the wildly popular 'Mondrian' design, which often appears on non-Zeisel shapes. The factory continued producing Zeisel’s designs for some time after she left, but she would sometimes feel the designs were not exactly as she had conceived them.
With the economic crisis at the beginning of the 1930s, the production focus shifted to tableware and utilitarian ceramics until the Nazis forced Moritz and Leopold Meyer to sell the factory in 1938 as a result of the forced aryanization of the German state. Both emigrated to England with their families during the war, but in 1949 Peter Meyer (the son of Moritz) returned to Germany together with his family and was instantly allowed to take over the business again.
The first post war generation was focused initially on rebuilding the damaged factory, but by the beginning of the 1950s decorative ceramics had regained their former market share. In addition to sophisticated glazes developed by the ceramic director Joseph Saradeth, the temporary resumption of the stylized-floral decors from the 1920s also contributed to the recovery. The company’s new designs came from Ingrid Helmbrecht-Witzer and the longstanding senior painter Ferdinand Langenbacher who had been with the company since 1918.
With the entry of Elfie Stadler in 1953 the orientation of production shifted to the new stylistic tendencies of the time. Her forms and decors determined the appearance of the Schramberg Majolika products until her departure in 1963 and included an idiosyncratic series using red clay which was developed by Joseph Saradeth. Additionally, Peter Ernhofer played a major role in the appearance of the ceramics of the 1950s through the development of many new colors and glazes. Under Stadler's successor Solveig Eriksen, who was a student of Björn Wiinblad, stereometrical shapes and Scandinavian influenced decor designs became prevalent.
In 1970 Peter Meyer became the sole proprietor of the factory and continued the work of his father and uncle for the next ten years. On December 6th 1980, Peter Meyer died from complications after a heart attack and during the following years the factory was led on by different directors but with much less success. His workers even said that the heart and soul of the facility had died with Peter Meyer. In 1989 the factory was finally closed, and the area was cleared to make room for new industry, today the former main building contains the head office of the newly founded industrial center.
IDENTIFICATION: The products, which were made of a plain white limestone earthenware, normally have the company marking and often also the decor name as well as the four-digit form number under a transparent glaze. Now and again, a three-digit form number can be found. The series made of red clay was produced between 1956 and 1959 and has neither markings nor form numbers. A significant part of the production was made for export, mainly to the UK and to Scandinavian countries - but also to the United States. In-country, products were distributed via special retailers and their purchase associations and sold through department stores and mail order companies.
|1960 to 1969
|1960 to 1969
|Country of Manufacture
|This piece has been attributed based on archival documentation, such as vintage catalogs, designer records, or other literature sources
|Vintage, Mid-Century, Modernist
|Excellent — This vintage piece is in near original condition. It may show minimal traces of use and/or have slight restorations.