For a century and a half, the name Weber has been synonymous with quality art materials. Established in 1853 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Martin/F. Weber Co. is the oldest and one of the largest manufacturers of art materials in the United States.
Originating in 1853 as Scholz & Company, a sales agency, the company evolved through a series of growth partnerships to become F. Weber and Company in 1887 under the leadership of its owner, Frederick Weber. Throughout the late 19th century, F. Weber and Company offered a wide range of imported and manufactured products. A significant number of patents for innovative art products were awarded to the company.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, during the golden years of the prestigious World Fair, F. Weber and Company was a frequent gold medal winner for its fine quality products at exhibits which included: 1873 Vienna, 1876 Centennial Exposition, Philadelphia, 1893 Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1903 St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition, 1915 San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exposition and the 1926 Philadelphia Sesquicentennial Exposition.
The disruption of commerce during World War I caused American artists to seek more American made art materials, thereby creating a need and an opportunity for F. Weber to expand its manufacturing capabilities. By the early 1920’s, in addition to its manufacturing and distribution facilities, F. Weber and Company also had three retail stores: one each in Philadelphia, Baltimore and St. Louis.
After the death of Mr. Weber in 1919, his sons, Frederick (Fred) and Ernest, incorporated the company, becoming F. Weber Co. Inc. Among other significant responsibilities within the organization, Fred became Technical Director. A creative artist, chemist and author of artists’ materials books, he developed many new products. One of the most notable is Original Permalba White, which was first formulated in 1921. Fred Weber was the first to develop a nontoxic, opaque, white oil paint with smooth working qualities to replace the toxic, lead-based whites that artists had used for hundreds of years. It remains the artists’ standard in white oil paint.
In the 1930’s, Mr. Weber introduced new pigments to the industry with excellent lightfastness and reduced toxicity to the artist, as well as synthetic varnishes to replace the less stable natural materials used in the past. Turpenoid, an exceptional odorless turpentine replacement, which is still the finest available was introduced in the 1950’s. This remarkably early commitment to the development of safer art materials continues to the present.
With the publication of his first book, Artists Pigments, (Van Nostrand, 1923), Mr. Weber became a sought after lecturer on artists materials and methods and provided advice to many prominent 20th Century artists including Thomas Hart Benton, Dean Cornwell, Arthur Dove, Peter Hurd, Norman Rockwell, NC Wyeth and Andrew Wyeth. After the death of Ernest and then Fred, F. Weber Co. Inc. was purchased by Visual Art Industries of Brooklyn, which had created the first signature art sets with the original television artist, Jon Gnagy.
Since its purchase in 1980 by the Kapp family, and under the continued guidance of Dennis Kapp, the now named, Martin/F. Weber Co. produces an ever-widening range of exceptional art materials for artists of all skill levels and signature artists’ products for such well known contemporary television artist/teachers as Bob Ross, Susan Scheewe and Bruce Blitz.
We invite you to share our pride in our 155 year history and tradition. We pledge: to continue to offer the creative community we serve only the finest in art and craft products, and reaffirm our ardent commitment to continuing improvements in art technology as we move quickly into the 21st century.