Kettlesprings was born in 1950 when the city of Alliance, Ohio was planning a Centennial
Joe Reighart, Gene Cunin, and
Chuck Wolpert, three men involved with the Spring-Holzwarth Department
Store in Alliance, conceived the idea of a commemorative plate for the
The first design was for the Alliance Centennial, but it was so well
received, several other Alliance designs were created, including the landmark
Glamorgan Castle and the historic downtown of the city. When these designs
were equally successful, the three men decided to go into business together
as Kettlesprings Kilns and offer their combined talents to other groups
planning memorable events.
Gene Cunin was the primary artist, Chuck Wolpert handled sales, and Joe Reighart
applied his business acumen acquired during his years as part owner of Spring-Holzwarth
While artist Cunin created the earliest artwork, he soon needed others to assist
with the line drawings that would become plate designs. Included on the list
of artists are: Barbara Jones, Bob Wagner, Eileen Epling, Curt Fahnert, Bill
Lucas, Karon Common, Marvin Triguba, Evelyn Groves, Elizabeth Allyn, William
E. Fay, and Richard Fay. Occasionally, clients submitted their own artwork for
Richard (Dick) Fay joined Kettlesprings in 1951, shortly after graduating from
Ohio State University. Floyd Bixler, Fay's father-in-law and owner of Bixler
Tours, had been approached about a commemorative plate for the city of Boston,
Massachusetts while conducting a tour of that city. Dick created the artwork
for the Boston plate, made the connection with Kettlesprings, and was associated
with the company thereafter until his retirement in 2002.
Fay worked with Bixler Tours and Kettlesprings at the same time, and
often, while conducting a tour for Bixler, found people interested in having
a Kettlesprings plate produced. Many times, Dick not only made the initial contact,
but created the artwork for the client as well.
Several jobbers represented Kettlesprings over the years including: Culbert-Swan
Productions, Roberts Producing Company, Hooper (from Albany, New York), and the
Curhan Company (from the Pittsburgh, PA area). Some of these companies were hired
to put on festivals for communities, and Kettlesprings plates were produced to
help finance the event.
To find prospects for Kettlesprings' services, Cunin subscribed to
a "Clip" service that sent newspaper articles about upcoming
festivals to the company. Informative brochures were sent to prospective
clients along with prints of successful designs by similar festival
committees. However, the best advertising for the company has always
been the mark on the back of each plate that says Kettlesprings Kilns,
Alliance, Ohio with the number of the individual design underneath.
Clients have included Centennial / Sesquicentennial /Bicentennial / Tricentennial
celebrations, festivals, special events, museums, tourist attractions, churches,
family reunions, corporate anniversaries, landmarks, birthdays and practically
any place, person or event worth remembering.
Over the years, mugs, bells, and tiles were introduced as Kettlesprings
items as well as the traditional plates for which they are best known.
Kettlesprings has come a long way since the first days when the company used
Joe Reighart's home address of R.D. #1, Alliance, Ohio. The original P.O.Box
#423, Alliance, Ohio became P.O. Box #2093 as the city of Alliance grew. Chuck
Wolpert moved away from Alliance, Joe Reighart died in 1965, and Gene Cunin died
in 1982. Dick Fay continued Kettlesprings and moved the business to Hiram, Ohio,
but kept P.O. Box #2093 in Alliance for the convenience of clients.
Royal China, the original pottery that fired Kettlesprings stoneware products
ceased operation around 1985. After 1985 Kettlesprings began using high quality porcelain bases,
but the dedication to excellent artwork remains the same as the original artists
in the early fifties.
When Fay retired in 2002, Kettlesprings moved again, this time to within
six miles of where it originated. Today, Kettlesprings welcomes inquiries
about new projects or reorders of established designs at the familiar
P.O. Box #2093, Alliance, Ohio 44601, The new street address is 1366
Porter Rd., Atwater, Ohio 44201.
for thinking of Kettlesprings!
This early design for the State of Ohio
features carnations on the edges. Ohio's state flower, the scarlet
carnation, was hybridized in Alliance by Dr. Walborn. Alliance is
nicknamed the Carnation City and the Carnation Days Festival is still
celebrated every summer.