Note: Please see revised and amended history of this factory in the "Histories, News and Discussion" sections
The Fanciullacci pottery was established on the island of Capraia in 1862 by Rafaello Fanciullacci (1803-1881), the son of a Goatherd who's mother was originally from Montelupo. The company originally confined itself to making simple, utilitarian, table and kitchenware, jars, etc (stovigliere, in Italian).
By the late 1870's he was joined by his son, Demetrio (1841-1895) and later, by Demetrio's sons, the brothers Ilario (1862-1924), Giovanni (1864-1933), Amadeo (1863-1933) and Alfredo (1880-1961). By 1880 the pottery's name was changed to The Brothers (Fratelli) Fanciullacci.
After Rafaello's death the family began looking for a less expensive means to get their products to the main markets in Tuscany as shipping costs from the island to the mainland had increased. In 1911 it was decided that Montelupo, near Florence was ideal. The brothers had relatives in the town from their grandmother's side of the family. Those family ties proved invaluable in making business and banking contacts. The second reason for choosing Montelupo was the arrival of the Florence-Pisa railroad through the town's center. With the railroad in place the firm had an easy, inexpensive, means of getting their product to vital cities in Italy and at the same time reduce their selling prices to an extremely attractive wholesale cost.
They were such an immediate success that by 1914 the company had over 1,000 different molds thus making their range of offerings one the most appealing in the country and making the pottery the largest employer in the area.
During these early years the firm continued to concentrate on the manufacture of stovigliere but slowly branched out onto a rich repertoire of artistic products. They understand the pulse of the Italian people and produced works in the latest styles as soon as they appeared. They created new items in Raffaellesco, Istoriati, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Futurism, Cubism, Modernism, Avante-Garde. Whatever the public wanted the brothers gave them. In 1966, a dispute broke out among family members as to what direction the company should be taken. It was decided that the best solution was to open a second factory in Florence. It proved to be a fatal decision. The Florence factory failed within three years. Production and quality slipped dramatically in Montelupo after 1966 and this is the year given by collectors as the last of Fanciullacci ceramics worthy of collecting. The Montelupo factory was able to struggle along for another two decades but finally closed its doors in 1988.
Walter Del Pellegrino