The Pfaltzgraff pottery company was founded in the United States by German immigrants during the early 19th century. George Falsgraff, a potter and farmer by trade, opened the first factory in 1811. Falsgraff’s farm was located on 21 acres of land in York County, Pennsylvania. Johann George Pfaltzgraff moved from Germany to Pennsylvania in 1833. He partnered with Falsgraff and opened a pottery factory in Freystown, Pennsylvania. In 1839, the factory began producing tablewares, jugs, pitchers, and ports.
Very little is known about the type of potteries produced at the Freystown factory. There are almost no records of how pottery was decorated or produced or even what clay was used. The Freystown factory was demolished in 1883 to make room for house-sized lots of land. A second factory was opened at Foustown, which is located in the northwest borough of York County. Although Falsgraff relocated with Johann George Pfaltzgraff, Johann George assumed full control of the factory. The relocation to Foustown is significant because the Pfaltzgraff family began buying large quantities of land from which they extracted the red clay ideal for their potteries. In 1870, the US Census reported a factory producing about $1,000 worth of ceramics (with a horse and human-powered potter’s wheel!) was operational in Faustown. The Census lists the business as “Pfaltzgraff and Son.”
Johann George Pfaltzgraff died in 1873 at 64 years of age. The day-to-day operation of the Faustown factory was left to his sons, John, Henry, and George. Under the leadership of the three brothers, the Pfaltzgraff factory shifted from manufacturing red clay wares to salt glazed potteries. The second generation of Pfaltzgraffs maintained a successful business selling a variety of earthenware pieces. They advertised locally, and were especially appealing to the local farming community.
A fire destroyed the Faustown factory and the business moved to another corner of York County. The business was renamed H.B. & G.B. Pfaltzgraff. As the second generation of Pfaltzgraffs passed away, the management of the factory fell to George Washington Pfaltzgraff, son of George Pfaltzgraff. By 1896, the Pfaltzgraff factory had outgrown its current location and moved up the road, closer to the Maryland Railway. George Washington Pfaltzgraff invited Edwin T. Moul, owner of the National Hotel, to join as a Pfaltzgraff business partner and the company became known as Pfaltzgraff Stoneware Co.
Edwin T. Moul was not only a hotel owner; he was also one of the Northeast’s largest producers of liquor. Pfaltzgraff Stoneware shifted to producing mostly jugs and ports to hold the liquor made by Moul. In 1906, the company was beset by another tragedy when a fire swept through the factory. Although arson was never proved, the Pfaltzgraff family believed that a disgruntled former employee deliberately set the fire. Moving only three blocks away, a new factory was built from salvageable materials and opened in less than six weeks. This location is the current location of the Pfaltzgraff factory. On March 26, 1906, the new factory opened using the name The Pfaltzgraff Pottery Co.
Throughout the next century, Pfaltzgraff would steadily grow. The fourth generation of Pfaltzgraffs carefully guided the company through World War I, the Great Depression, and Second World War. The Pfaltzgraff Pottery Co. shifted away from the manufacturing of ports and jugs as the demand for tableware pieces increased throughout the US. The fifth generation of Pfaltzgraff’s realized that their product would no longer sell itself. By the 1950’s the company began advertising on TV shows like “Concentration” and “Number Please.” Many of their most popular patterns were produced during this time including Gourmet and Heritage . Heritage would go on to become Pfaltzgraff’s most popular pattern.
In 1970, Pfaltzgraff diversified its business by making metalware products and glassware. Pfaltzgraff remains a leader in the American dinnerware market today. The company attributes their success to its ability to aggressively test the market. For example, 1980’s market testing revealed that traditional patterns whose inspiration was drawn from the company’s earlier salt glazes were beginning to loose appeal. In response to this, Pfaltzgraff introduced Aura Pink and Sky . Through strategic planning and an unending commitment to creating quality goods, Pfaltzgraff remains a leading tableware choice for the American home. Replacements carries many Pfaltzgraff’s dinnerware patterns including Yorktowne , Village, and America .