Alfred Stelmacher founded the Amphora company for the production of artistic ceramics in Tern-Teplice, Bohemia. He was born in 1837 in the town of Steinheid in Thuringia, worked in ceramic factories in the area, where he mastered the craft. Stelmacher founded his first porcelain factory in Tournai in 1876. The factory produced porcelain flowers that were superior in quality to French products. In the 1870s, Stelmacher developed a new ceramic material that became known as ivory porcelain due to its soft yellowish hue and matte finish. The new material allowed the ceramist to create more complex modeling and detailing of forms.
In 1892, Alfred Stelmacher organized the Riessner, Stellmacher & Kessel (RStK) porcelain factory. All the owners were relatives of Alfred: Karl and Hans Riessner and Rudolf Kessel were his sons-in-law, and Eduard Stelmacher was his son. The new company became known under the brand name “Amphora”. The company’s collection won the highest honor at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago and won the Gold Medal at the San Francisco Exposition the same year.
Beginning in the late 1890s, the company produced Art Nouveau ceramics. From 1893 to 1904, the firm’s collections received countless awards. Many of the firm’s products are virtually impossible to manufacture today, and if they could be reproduced, the cost would be prohibitive.