Aboriginal motif kitsch

50s Aboriginal motif s&p, jugAboriginal motif salt & pepper shaker sets, and small jug
made in Australia c.1950s

While none of these items has a maker’s mark, the salt and pepper shakers at the back are possibly by Terra Ceramics, and the round shakers to the left are possibly Florenz Pottery. The small jug is probably Studio Anna. All these potteries were making tourist and souvenir pottery by the 1950s, and these appropriated [and westernised] indigenous motifs were hugely popular. Post war arts and crafts saw a rise in the popularity of Australiana – replacing traditional English motifs with ‘Australian’ themes; invariably Aboriginal motif works were black, tan and white.

This group works well as a set, or could form the basis of a larger collection. The items on their own are very kitsch…but somehow when grouped the kitschness is subverted into a subtler aesthetic.

This set is for sale: $AU125

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50s Australiana kitsch

Gambit Ware 'Ceramique' Australiana leaf platesGambit Ware ‘Australiana’ leaf plates
made in Australia 1950s

Here is another part of my collection: anything botanically themed always gets me in. Add to that these plates were designed and made in Australia- celebrating our unique flora in the post war period. AND this is ‘Ceramique’ – an early melamine material that was developed to revolutionise ceramic – it would ‘never chip or break.’

The stylised plates came in simple pastel colours, but were quite botanically detailed- they include wattle, banksia, kurrajong, mulga leaves- to name a few. The simple colouring meant that each leaf shape was reproduced in six colours- so one could buy a set of six ‘for display OR kitchen purposes’!

This image shows another part of my collection- at last count I had 50 plates. Plates with their labels intact are worth significantly more. The Ceramique has certainly lived up to its name- there isn’t a chip or a crack on any of the plates, although colour fading has occurred on a few.

Kitschy – yes. But 50s Australian kitsch- I love it!

This selection of Gambit Ware is for sale: $125 [13 pieces]

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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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Penny Inkwells

Penny inkwells,
made in Victoria, Australia 1880-1910

This is a collection of ‘penny’ inkwells; they are ceramic and so-called because they were cheaply made bottles that cost a penny to buy. They were crudely made and one of the first ‘disposables’- they were simply thrown out when they were empty. So this little collection is quite rare: most penny inkwells that survived the nineteenth century are chipped or broken.

The ceramic is stoneware with a salt glaze. Each inkwell is a different colour, depending on the mix of the original clay colour and the finished glaze: they range from a light tan to a deep russet brown. No two the same!

Most penny inkwells were used by school children; but would occasionally also be bought to be used in homes. There are many websites devoted to the collection of inkwells, and Ebay has a section for ‘collectable inkwells and ink pots’. Single penny inkwells in good condition are selling for around $45.

The collection of 8 penny inkwells is in excellent vintage condition, and is for sale: POA

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Nally mixing bowls

Nally mixing bowls,
made in Australia, 1940s

I love bakelite and have collected Australian bakelite domestic ware for some time. Nally first started bakelite production in 1923 and was one of the first in Australia to do so. The factory was just up the road from where I now live.

These two mixing bowls – although nested [that is fitting exactly within one another]- were priced and sold separately. Nally’s advertising blurbs of the time made much of the fact that replacement pieces could always be bought, and as the mixing bowls were ‘harlequin’ [ie: different colours] they could be mixed and matched.

As it happens, these two bowls have never been used- testament to this fact is the original sticker in the base of the bowl. The sticker indicates these are ‘Genuine’ Nally bowls [in case you know, you thought they were fakes!]

The mixing bowls have a pouring lip, and came in the usual 40s pastel colours of blue, green, pink, cream and white. These bowls are yellow; and I’ve teamed them with a kewpie doll from the same era.

The bowls are for sale: $AU75

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Bakelite napkin rings

Bakelite napkin ringsBakelite napkin rings
made in Sydney, Australia 1950s

This set of harlequin octagonal bakelite napkin rings was made by Marquis in the 50s. Harlequin refers to the different colours [indeed, one of the rings is ‘end-of-day’ bakelite.] End-of-day bakelite was the pattern formed when whatever bits of bakelite where left where thrown together into the mould.

In the 50s everything was ‘harlequin’ – think sets of anodised aluminium beakers. This was actually a clever marking ploy- if you lost/broke one piece of a set, it was easily replaced – since nothing matched by colour, pattern or manufacturer.

Marquis was a huge bakelite manufacturer- they made everything that could be made from bakelite- from kitchen utensils, to light switches, to 35mm slide viewers. Indeed, I seem to have quite a few kitchen scoops, butter dishes, teaspoons, salt and pepper shakers and slide viewers made by Marquis in my collection.

I love the form of these napkin rings: octagonal shape on the outside – so the napkin ring sat easily on a table- but circular inside form – so the napkin could be smoothly set in place. Form and function, people! And just look at those beautiful bakelite colours.

Bakelite continues to be a sought after collectible: and this set of eight napkin rings is for sale: $AUD80

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Guy Boyd goblets

Guy Boyd goblet set
made in Sydney, Australia 1950s

This is a really, really rare set of Guy Boyd goblets. The form of the vessel- the goblet- was only produced in very limited quantities. To find an original set [rather than re-create a set, one piece at a time] is also rare.

The Boyds are a famous Australian family of artists. Martin Boyd pottery started in Cremorne, Sydney in 1946- but Martin doesn’t exist, instead it was Guy [Martin] Boyd who was the chief ceramicist. The pottery was in operation from 1946-1964, with 1957-58 being the peak production period.

All Guy Boyd pottery is made [and signed] by hand so there is a slight variation between any pieces in a set. The pottery is instantly recognisable from the edge band of unglazed pottery that always separates the two toned pieces. The colours are quintessentially 50s.

This fabulous goblet set would be great for Christmas drinks! It is for sale: $AU75
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60s kitschiness [is my kinda kitschiness]

60s kitschinessMelbourne tray, made in Hong Kong, 1960s
Hornsea sugar bowl, made in England, 1960s
Diana ramekins, made in Australia, 1960s.

An ode to 60s kitschiness – a bar tray featuring the beautiful city of Melbourne in the 60s- terrible image, much touched-up and with an explanatory label; a green ‘Heirloom’ sugar bowl, stoneware designed and produced by John Clappison in 1966 for Hornsea; and a pair of Diana ramekins, made in Marrickville, Sydney in the late 60s.

A range of 60s aesthetics: the tacky, the patterned and the late-modernist. All now very desirable and collectable. People collect bar-themed paraphenalia [‘barphenalia’] – Hornsea is oh-so collectable now, and Diana pottery [and ramekins especially] is becoming very desirable.

All these items are in good vintage condition, and are for sale: Melbourne bar tray: $AU20, Hornsea Heirloom sugar bowl: $AU25, and the Diana ramekins: $AU20.

Pates posey vases

Pates posey vasesPates posey vases,
made in Sydney, Australia c.1940-1950s

These posey vases were made by Pates Pottery, which operated out of Belmore, Sydney from 1946 -1990. As you may have noticed, given the tenor of the posts of this blog, being a Sydneyite I have an affinity for the potteries that were producing domestic ware in the 40s, 50s and 60s.

Pates’ pottery glazes were influenced by domestic 1950s furnishing and interior colour trends; but the forms borrowed heavily from British and American designs. These posey vases comprise three ‘trough’ vases [foreground] and two ‘log’ vases [background]- the forms were copied from overseas but the colours are all about Australian interior decor of the 50s.

Posey vases are small and design to ‘float’ short-stemmed flowers. All the posey vases are stamped ‘Pates Australia’ on the base and all are in good condition with no cracks or crazing.

Five Pates posey vases for the discerning Pates/posey vase collector; for sale- $AUD100

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Glomesh bling

Glomesh purse, 1960Glomesh purse,
made in Sydney, 1960

Glomesh is an international brand that makes these instantly recognisable ‘chain-mail’ handbags and purses in white, silver and gold. The company was founded by Hungarian immigrants Louis and Alice Kennedy in Bondi, in 1958. The company continues today, without much variation from the original design ideal.

I am not a handbag person – BUT my sister is. She has a thing for Glomesh. It’s the tactile and blingy nature of the bags –a reaction she shares with many. Naturally I support her in her Australian-made ideal.

This is a very early purse- in gold- which has an internal label: “GLOMESH, Made in NSW, Australia”, which marks it as such. A few of the gold plates at the base are worn and a bit bent, but the purse is entire and its lining is intact.

This is a piece of Glomesh history: and it’s for sale: $AU45

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