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Ceramics - Herman Carl Mueller (1854 - 1941 )


Herman Mueller founded the Mueller Mosaic Tile Company in Trenton, New Jersey, in 1908. According to one source, "Herman Carl Mueller was born in Germany in 1854. As a teenager he wanted to be a professional singer because he had a rich baritone voice. His parents recognized early that young Herman was artistically talented so they encouraged him at age 14 to enter the Nuremberg School of Industrial Arts instead of pursuing professional singing. There he discovered his talent and interest in sculpture, and at age 16 began his formal training at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts. When he finished school, he worked as an apprentice with different sculptors throughout Germany. In 1878, at the age of 24, he decided to emigrate to the United States of America because he heard it was a land of opportunity."

"In the German community of Cincinnati, Ohio, Mueller found work as a sculptor and modeler in several pottery and tile companies. He was highly regarded, but after working for other companies for several years, he decided to establish a company of his own. In 1908 he moved to Trenton, New Jersey and started operation of the Mueller Mosaic Company, at the former location of the Artistic Porcelain Company on Chambers Street and Cedar Lane. The company did well and Mueller, the successful businessman, became acquainted with J.V.B. Wicoff while campaigning for Woodrow Wilson's successful attempt to become President of the United States. Years later, Wicoff asked him to design and install the tiles in the sun porch [of his house in Plainsboro, New Jersey]. In addition, Mueller received an extensive commission from J.V.B.s friend and business associate, Henry W. Jeffers, to design and install the ceramic tile and decorations in the Rotolactor of the famous Walker-Gordon Dairy."

"As a prominent citizen of Trenton who believed strongly in education, Mueller was appointed president of the Trenton Board of Education. While in the position from 1914 until 1919, he was instrumental in establishing this country's first Junior High School."

Reference:

Plainsboro Historical Society web site (see link below).



Three Unglazed Terra-Cotta Tiles


Three unglazed terra cotta tiles with pastoral motifs (cupid with ram, shepherd, girl with pitcher), n.d., 17 x 6 inches. Photograph courtesy Karen Michelle Guido/AntiqueTiles.com (see link below).

"All three of these terra cotta unglazed panels [above] were designed and molded by Herman Carl Mueller, while he was at the American Encaustic Tiling Company, in Zanesville, Ohio. All have his cipher, HM, at the bottom of each panel. These important and rare panels were some of Mueller's first work in the United States, after arriving from Germany. Each of these exquisitely molded panels measures 17 by 6 inches, and they are 5/8 inch thick."

"AET was established in 1876, and Mueller went from there to help form the Mosaic Tile Company in 1894. Therefore we do know that these panels were designed prior to 1894. Mueller went on to work for several tile companies, and finally formed his own namesake, the Mueller Mosaic Tile Company, in 1908. Mueller is known as one of the most innovative and skilled artists of his time."(1)

There are photographs of beautiful custom tile work done by the Mueller Mosaic Company for a private home in Sturgis, Michigan, at the third link below. The house was built in the mid-1920s by C.W. Kirsch, the founder of Kirsch Window Treatments.(2)

(1) Information courtesy Karen Michelle Guido/AntiqueTiles.com (see link below).

(2) TileHeritage.org (see link below).

Links:
http://www.antiquetiles.com
http://www.plainsborohistory.com/Herman%20Carl%20Mueller.htm
http://www.tileheritage.org/THF-ENews08-09.html
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