retro iittala

iittala Ultima Thule creamer & sugar bowliittala Ultima Thule
made in Finland 1968

This is a sugar bowl & creamer in the Ultima Thule series, designed by Tapio Wirkkala for iittala in 1968.

The asymmetrical glass bubbles and feet form an ‘icy effect’- to ‘imitate the nature of the northern icy terrain of Scandinavia’…according to the designer. The unique texture of the glass was created by pouring molten glass into a timber mould and allowing the heat of the glass to burn into the mould.

Ultima Thule contributed to iittala’s international reputation as a world class glass foundry in the late 60s – this design ‘crystallizes the distinct expressive power of Finnish glass’- according to

iittala is now hugely collectible and the sugar bowl and creamer are for sale: start your retro iittala collection today! $AUD75

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Pates swan vases

3 small Pates vasesPates swan & posy vases
made in Sydney, Australia c1950s

I told you I liked 50s swans! Following from my last Pates post, here are two small swan vases, and a posy vase.

The swan on the left is similar to the large swan planter of the previous post- drip- glazed in 50s pinks & crimsons. The swan vase on the right is identical in shape but has a pastel pink and textured over-glaze. I’m not sure which one I like best- but that textured swan is surely the kitschiest.

The posy vase came in a number of sizes; this being the smallest. It’s also pastel pink, with a clear glaze finish to both the exterior and interior: the interior showing the clay colouring to its best advantage. Meanwhile the two swans have the same internal colourings as their exterior.

And there you have it- the ABC of 50s glazed ware; the shape, the colour, the texture, and the contrast. The three vases are for sale: $AUD75

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Pates swan planter

Pates swan planterPates Swan planter
made in Sydney, Australia c1950s

Pates operated out of Belmore from 1946 -1990- and as you may have noticed, given the tenor of the posts of this blog, being a Sydneyite I have an affinity for the potteries near where I now live that were producing domestic wares in the 40s, 50s and 60s.

Pates’ designs and colours were influenced by the 1950s furnishing and domestic colour trends. Swans were a big theme; from tiny vase forms to large planters, like this one. The 50s colours were applied as a drip glaze, so no two pieces are exactly alike.

My friend Roz gave me this planter; she was had an inkling that I would love it. I love swan pottery precisely because they are such a 50s icon- if you search this blog you’ll find all manner of plastic, gilt and ceramic swans all hailing from the 50s.

I’ve teamed the planter- which has a hole for water egress, as you’d expect in the base- with a dried bunch of eucalypt. It would look great with a potted maiden hair fern, or other indoor plant; but also doubles as an impromptu vase.

The swan planter is for sale: $AUD145

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Genie Lamp vase

MCP Genie Lamp vase #257MCP ‘Genie Lamp’ vase #257
made in Sydney, Australia c1950

MCP- Modern Ceramic Products- started production in the 1940s, in Redfern, Sydney. MCP made strong geometric forms with very modernist styling – and a highly textured exterior finish to contrast with the smooth internal glaze. This two-toned aesthetic meant each vase shape could be made in a wide range of iterations- albeit along the 50s spectrum of baby blue, pale pink and pale yellow.

I’ve sold several- beautiful- MCP vases; have a look on the SOLD tab. They are now very collectible and it’s getting harder to find these beauties.

This ‘Genie Lamp’ vase is in baby blue. It is stamped ‘#257 MCP’ on the base, and it looks good with anything from old fashioned roses [referencing the 50s] to contemporary structural arrangements- like Eucalypt leaves.

The Genie Lamp vase is for sale: $AUD55

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Fuzzy Felt!

Fuzzy Felt Ballet & Play FarmFuzzy Felt Ballet & Play Farm
made in England 1964

One of my earliest memories is seeing Fuzzy Felt Bible Stories at Scripture class. I would have been 3 or 4. Even then I wanted to mix all the stories up and see what would happen if Jesus and Lazarus meet on Noah’s Ark. And what if the disciples and Noah’s animals suddenly found themselves in King Solomon’s temple? Alas, it never happened, and any attempts I made were neatly thwarted by the teacher.

And so- how I coveted Fuzzy Felt Bible Stories! I repeatedly asked Santa to bring it to me for Christmas [but apparently it was too expensive for Santa- the cheapskate!] Then for my 8th birthday- I was given Fuzzy Felt Ballet, and my younger sister got Fuzzy Felt Play Farm. I was very disappointed…ballet was too girly and passive for me, although the black fuzzy felt board was kind of sophisticated. The Play Farm at least had heavy machinery, albeit picked out in two-dimensional felt.

So imagine my delight when I came across these two Fuzzy Felt sets! Oh the nostalgia! The memories of putting ballerinas on tractors and putting tutus on pigs! It all came flooding back. As did the blurb on the box: “Gaily coloured felt shapes to make pictures! They cling like magic on the fuzzy board!”

Totally magical. The two sets are complete, with only a little minor wear to the black fuzzy felt board. For sale: $AUD60

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Magic Robot

Magic robot quiz gameMagic Robot Quiz Game
Murfett, made in New Zealand 1970

‘Always gives you the right answer’ – says so right on the box. This game is sort of Trivial Pursuit but with a robot who points to the correct answer. So you know it’s true.

It’s a weird mixed metaphor that the robot is magic. Either he’s a robot…or he’s magic. You can’t have a magic robot. But I digress…how about that funky 70s font on the box lid?

For any number of players [probably best for young folk who don’t know about the ‘magic’ of magnets yet] -this game will give you hours of fun! Or nostalgic hilarity, your call.

The game is ‘as new’- doesn’t look like it’s been used. I do confess that I tested it- and by gum!- the robot…he IS….m..a..g..i..c….

This game is for sale: $AUD40

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Cherry Christmas!

Christmas cherriesCovetro cherry bowl, made in Italy c.1960s
Lucite cherry paperweight, c.1960s
Christmas angel figurine, c.1960s

In Sydney, at Christmas time it’s all about the cherries. Cherry season is a relatively short period from November to early January and so cherries are always associated with Christmas. Maybe the red and green colouring also contributes to the association.

The 60s were also all about the cherry. Cherry icons and logos were everywhere. This collection references both the 60s and – for all Sydneysiders: Christmas.

All items are in excellent conditions, except the Christmas angel figurine who has been rubbed a little too vigorously and so lost a little red paint. Still, she’s over forty years old and is entitled to. She has a chick at her feet, which is another story altogether.

This set is for sale [get in early for Christmas!]: $AUD45

3 ducks

German copper- 3 flying ducksThree flying ducks
made in Germany c 1960s

Remember when three ducks flying across a wall was de rigueur? Yes, they were ceramic. But this copper wall hanging from Germany brings it all together: three mallard ducks flying over cattails in a pond. In 3D!

The hanging is 320mm [12.5”] x 155mm [6”]- has an attached hanger stamped ‘Germany’- so is ready to go. All your kitsch needs in one 3D assemblage…copper [tick]- mallards x 3 [tick] – 3D moulded plastic relief [tick!]

My work here is done.

This may well be the very embodiment of 60s kitsch. And it is for sale: $AUD35

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Cuisenaire Rods

Original Cuisenaire rodsCuisenaire Rods
made in Australia c 1970s

If you went to school in the 70s – chances are you learnt Base 10 mathematics with Cuisenaire. I know I did. Although I remember making structures out of the timber rods- houses and buildings- more than actually learning anything mathematical.

Cuisenaire rods were devised in the 1920s by the wife of George Cuisenaire- a Belgian educator. Ms Cuisenaire’s name is not recorded- as George did all the marketing. And then it took another fifty years before the Cuisenaire rods were sold to schools across the world : instantly recognisable in the grey plastic box with raised yellow writing, and inside – the colour coded timber pieces [one=white, two=red, three=light green, four=crimson…]  I thought it was weird that black=seven. I thought that should have been 10- since 1 was white. But perhaps I was being too binary. But no- I still think that’s weird. Oh- those crazy Belgians!

Rescued from a school which is now a development site, this Cuisenaire set bears all the hallmarks of having been used and abused by a generation of school children. I bet half of them made structures out of them instead of learning maths…

This set is for sale: $AUD40

60s perpetual calendar

60s perpetual calendarPerpetual calendar
made in Queensland, Australia c 1960s

Ah, the sixties. When no subject was too prosaic to provide a backdrop for a perpetual calendar. The Sunshine Plantation grew and continues to grow pineapples – it’s on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland [I visited as a youngster.]

The pineapple is traditionally a symbol of hospitality – or wealth. In Australia it comes in cans and can be found on pizzas and Big Macs. But recently the humble pineapple has become somewhat of a style icon, adorning everything in interiors from large format pictures to timber-turned bedposts. So I present to you- a perpetual calendar and two toothpick holders from the 60s. And a real pineapple for comparison purposes.

Add to your burgeoning pineapple collection, or begin one with these beauties. Every desk needs a perpetual calendar- and every office a toothpick holder upcycled to thumb-drive storage. You just can’t have too many pineapples!

The perpetual calendar is for sale: $AUD45 [toss in the two toothpick holders for free.]

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