Tortoise shell

Faux tortoise shell knitting needlesFaux tortoise shell knitting needles
made in Australia c1910-1940s

I have posted tortoise shell knitting needles before : they are much prized by knitters and artists alike and are very collectable. Knitters like them because they are super flexible and so easy to work with, and artists refashion the needles into art / jewellery : see Etsy and Pinterest for examples. Because the material is very pliable, artists use hot water to mould the needles into new shapes/forms.

This collection has twenty pairs of needles, from gauge 6 – gauge 13, and the makers are: Patons, Quicknit, Shellonite and Halex.

Tortoise shell became illegal to sell in the 1970s [in Australia- an international ban became effective in 1982] and so production ceased. These needles are therefore now described as ‘faux tortoise shell’. Suffice it to say, these needles are now quite rare.

The 20 pairs of faux tortoise shell needles are selling for $AUD200.

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Old school map

'Village form' old school map‘Village form’ school map, 1950s
made in Germany

Ok, ok, enough with the school maps already! But I do love this town planning one. That’s totally a subject that should be taught in school. Far too late to be teaching it at university- children should understand urban form from an early age. Imagine the cities we’d be living in if that was the case.

Dorfformen translates as ‘village form’ and here we see three forms in plan view and perspective. Google translate gives no clue as to the meaning of angerdorf, waldhfendorf or rundling- but really do we need one? The drawings are self-explanatory.

I bought this old school map at a Berlin flea market ; it now graces my drawing office. The colours and forms are so conducive to thinking about design. All drawing should be this good.

Back to [old] skool

Retro briefcase & vintage calculatorsBriefcase made in Sydney, Australia 1950s
Magic Brain Computer, pocket calculator made in Japan 1950s
Addiator, pocket calculator made in Germany 1920s

OK folks, it’s back to school – retro-style. Here is a vintage Australian briefcase and two vintage pocket calculators. The briefcase was made by Consolidated Plastics Industries; it has three internal concertina partitions, and steel locks, rivets and corner bracings. All in good order; the locks work—there are a series of three slots so as the briefcase became fuller, a new lock might be used.

The first calculator is the MBC- Magic Brain Computer [an oxymoron if ever there was one.] It has been sold – so it exists here now only as an image. The second- the Addiator- is German, made in the 20s and calculates sterling currency.

The front of the Addiator is for addition, the back for subtraction. The Addiator comes in its original leather case, has its stylus intact [for pulling all those little boxes around] – and glory be! still has its instructions. Which are kinda necessary in this day of digital fru-fru; who around would know how to use this wacky machine? is a fantastic reference: people collect vintage calculators. I’m drawn to them because they are beautiful AND functional.

The briefcase and the Addiator are for sale separately: the briefcase is $AUD75 and the Addiator is $AUD125; or – go old skool and buy them together for: $AUD175

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Kathie Winkle ‘Newlyn’ plate

Kathie Winkle 'Newlyn' plateBroadhurst ‘Newlyn’ plate
made in England 1963

Continuing my love affair with Kathie Winkle – the lead designer at Broadhurst in the 60s- here is another of her designs: Newlyn. Kathie Winkle designs are very collectible right now – and indeed are currently being re-released. Winkle designed over 140 patterns- all very groovy and typical of the 60s.

The plate has a handpainted underglaze [the pattern] but is detergent and dishwasher proof. So it’s beautiful and functional! Imagine a whole wall of funky 60s plates…if they were easily detachable you could store your entire dinner service that way!

Previously I posted Kathie Winkle’s ‘Kontiki’ design- it was made in 1967. Start your Kathie Winkle collection today!- this plate is for sale: $AUD15

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Apples & Pairs

J & G Meakin 'Eden' jug & sugar bowlJ & G Meakin Studio ‘Eden’ jug & sugar bowl
made in England 1964

This set comprises a sugar bowl and jug from J & G Meakin, featuring apples and pears on the front, and a gooseberry on the back – in a pattern called ‘Eden’. Eden was designed by Alan Rogers in the mid 60s and it is so representative of 60s design and colours. These pieces were once part of a whole dinner set- but like most patterned things- less is more; a whole dinner set would be quite overwhelming whereas these two are absolutely charming. And if my memory serves me correctly, apples & pears is rhyming slang for stairs!

J & G Meakin have been producing pottery in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent since 1851 and continue in production today: Eden, however wasn’t produced past the late 60s. Pottery by J & G Meakin is quite collectible- especially pieces made at the turn of the century and in the 50-60s period. I have written about J & G Meakins ‘Studio Ware’, almost from the mid 50s, previously. The jug and sugar bowl are in excellent condition.

The Eden set is for sale: $AUD45

40s sewing caddy

Sewing caddy, 1940s, shown closedSewing caddy, 1940s, shown open1940s sewing caddy
made in Australia

Readers! For you delectation and delight I present to you – a hand-made sewing caddy. As you can see in the images- the caddy is on casters and opens up to reveal a little cupboard [with bakelite handle]; cotton reel spool holders and various drawers for fabric and notions and such. What a beauty!

The real appeal of the caddy is the bow-fronted drawers, which are staggered to allow them to slot into one another when the caddy closes. A fantastic design. The timber cabinet has expressed mortice and tenon joints, attesting to its craftsmanship.

The casters are new- and quite spoil the rustic, hand-made appeal of the caddy- but they can easily be exchanged for some rough old industrial casters. The little cupboard door is a little wonky with age, but still closes and its hinges, etc are all original and working. I’m not sure of the timber, it’s an Australian fruit wood – but not sure which one. The caddy closes with a steel hinged latch, slightly rusted in suitable aged style.

The caddy could be used for all sorts of storage: when I first bought it I had visions of using it to style my collection; I have a ‘timber’ theme to all my images and I thought this would make a handsome backdrop. Alas, I haven’t used it thus- and now it is for sale.

For sale: $AUD175 [pick-up only; postage seems a bit of a stretch.]

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Studio Anna ~ rare large plate

Studio Anna 'Pincushion Hakea' plateStudio Anna ‘Pincushion Hakea’ plate
made in Sydney, Australia 1950s

I am particularly drawn to kitsch pottery that has landscape or botanical images…so Studio Anna art pottery from the 50s is right up my street! I have posted Studio Anna pottery previously- you might remember that it was situated right near where I now live, in inner-Sydney.

Studio Anna started producing souvenir ware and art pottery in 1953, eventually closing in 1999. They produced a huge range of handpainted ceramics featuring landscapes, landmarks, flora, fauna and aboriginal motifs. I have in my collection – and have posted on this blog- examples of almost all their work.

This plate with its inscribed in white cursive text on the lower right ‘Pincushion Hakea’ [Hakea laurina, fyi, a native of Western Australia] is rare and unusual in that the background is a stippled pink- normally the background to the image was a flat-glazed colour. The short-lived [and thus rare] stippling period is supposed by many authorities to be a reaction to other competing 50s art potters – who all used the flat colour background in their work.

The other unusual- rare- thing about this plate is its form: it is unusually large, and sits on four ceramic legs made integral with the back of the plate. These little legs don’t normally survive but this larger plate- with its proportionally larger legs has. The plate is in excellent condition – it could have been made yesterday.

The rare and unusual Studio Anna plate is for sale: $AUD90

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70s coat hooks

Gedy coat hooks, 1970sgedy design coat hooks
made in Italy, 1970s

New in box – 70s coat hanger hooks, designed by Makio Hasuike for gedy design [cat. no: 2327.] The hooks come complete with steel baseplates and are ready to hang: each box contains a pair and there are four boxes: red, orange, white and brown; and also an extra orange and green hook- 10 hooks in all.

I bought these hooks from an old hardware store that was closing down- the boxes have been sitting in the storeroom since 1974 when they were purchased.

These hooks represent the best of 70s design: having a modular, streamline form, made from robust materials. The baseplate & fixings are concealed so the hook looks like it is cantilevered from the wall. The hooks have been designed to hang one way – to hang hats, or the opposite way to take two coats. They would look fantastic as a sequence along a contemporary white wall.

I don’t often pay homage to 70s design – but I think gedy got the design of these hooks right. The set of hooks is for sale: $AUD75

Pyrex ‘Sunburst’ flask jug

Pyrex 'Sunburst' flask jugPyrex ‘Sunburst’ flask jug, made in USA 1960s
Bar Scene tray, made in USA 1960s

This is Pyrex at its best- a jug modelled on a laboratory flask with an ‘atomic’ sunburst pattern in gold. The stopper is graduated plastic, in good old yellow plastic. The jug has a pouring lip, two litre capacity and being Pyrex, is good for hot and cold liquids. Pyrex is very collectible – and the jug is in excellent condition. And –it makes a terrific vase when it’s not serving hot and cold liquids.

The tray also hails from America, and has a photographic image of a traditional bar of the 60s. You know the one – all dark wood, rows and rows of liquor in the background – and on the bar- a bowl of fruit. The tray is made of compressed fibreboard, making it light- and has integral handles which are plastic wire wrapped. I have collected several of these trays from the 60s- the photographs are invariably touched-up and are unintendedly quite funny.

The Pyrex jug and tray are for sale: $AUD60

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Rolodex #2400 twin wheel

Rolodex #2400 twin wheel, 50sRolodex twin wheel card file
made in USA 1950s

I love retro stationery; and I am a big fan of Rolodex- I use one in my office. Recently I came across this twin wheel- completely unused- Rolodex and so did a bit of research into its history.

Rolodex =’ rolling index’; was designed by the Danish Engineer Hildaur Neilsen in New York in 1956. By 1958 Rolodex was on the market and it’s still produced today, pretty much in the same format – although the twin wheel is no longer made and plastic has replaced the fantastic metal shell of this model.

This Rolodex is model #2400 and it is all metal construction, with a sliding metal hood [opened in this image] that drops into the body of the machine. There is some slight rust marks on the top of the hood, due to age and being metal the whole thing weighs a ton. But the 500 blank cards on the twin wheels have never been used and are the original cards – complete with instructions on how to use!

Ready to lend retro charm and industrial cred to your office, the Rolodex is for sale: $AUD75

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