50s botanica

Gambit ware 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. Each leaf shape has its name on the underside, should you fail to recognise these iconic shapes. 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 about half of my collection- at last count I had 20 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.

Personal collection

Diana vase
made in Australia 1940s

This is part of my personal collection: you will recall that I like Diana pottery [originally made right near where I now live] – in the colours of green/brown [Australiana- nationalistic colours discovered in the 40s and 50s.] These nationalistic colours- reminiscent of the Australian bush – are dear to me as a landscape architect.

So- while I have many other Diana pottery on the blog for sale, I continue to collect this green/brown Diana from the late war period.  Diana was starting to embrace & recognise colours that made Australia unique.

Then the 70s happened. I don’t collect Diana ware from the 70s- with the exception of the brutalist ‘Safari’ set [see blog below.] The rest of the 70s collection- when the pottery finally closed- is made up of either bland brown or gaudily covered flora. That was the crazy 70s- either abstract nothingness or super-charged vibrancy.

Fowler Ware nested pudding bowls

Fowler Ware pudding bowls
made in Australia 1940s

It is rare- very rare- to find a complete set of nested pudding bowls. Look at those fabulous 40s colours! And all in very good condition, too- ready to make puddings!

Fowler Ware created industrial pottery in Glebe, Sydney commencing in the 1840s. After WWII, Fowler Ware moved to producing pottery for the domestic market : their pudding bowls were so popular that they opened a second pottery to cope with the demand.

Fowler Ware also sold pudding bowls under the ‘Utility’ brand: these were white or cream, and while also made of stoneware, somewhat thicker and more ‘utilitarian’ than these harlequin pudding bowls. I have – as you can imagine- collected these as well!

The nested pudding bowls are in great vintage condition, and are for sale: $AU150

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Bakewells tea canister

Bakewells tea canister
made in Australia 1925-1935

This fabulous ceramic kitchen canister is called ‘Beulah Ware’- named for Bakewell’s wife, Beulah. The fantastic ‘tea’ font and decoration is all art deco.

Bakewells started production in 1884 and like so many potteries, moved from making bricks and pipes to domestic wares in the early part of the twentieth century. By the 1920s, they were manufacturing vases [‘exclusive ware’] and domestic ware [kitchenalia, including canisters.]

The earthernware canisters came in a set of five: Flour, Sugar, Rice, Tea and the smallest, Sago. A full set of canisters is next to impossible for find now – and originally, they came in this pastel green, a pastel yellow and a baby blue.

You may remember that I found the ‘Flour’ canister, sans lid- and now use it as a vase [see post, below.] And that just recently I posted a set of matching graduated jugs- same hand-coloured green glaze and with the same art deco styling.

The tea canister is in fantastic vintage condition, and is for sale: $AU65

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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 in Glebe, Sydney.

These two mixing bowls – although nested [that is fitting exactly within one another]- and 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 fajes!]

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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Boomerang dish

MCP boomerang dish
made in Sydney, Australia 1950s

MCP [Modern Ceramic Products] started production in the 1940s, in Redfern, Sydney. The simple geometric forms of their vases have a very modernist styling and each has a highly textured exterior finish which contrasts with the smooth internal glaze. The two-toned aesthetic meant each vase could be made in a wide range of iterations- albeit along the 50s spectrum of baby blue, pale pink, pale yellow and pastel green.

This is a boomerang dish, with the usual MCP textured green exterior and smooth pink interior. Like most 50s pottery, the fine edge between the two glazes is described in white. So elegant. The boomerang shape was a 50s staple: not only was it ‘Australian’ but it had the added benefit of being ‘unusual’; not a pure geometric shape like most round or square dishes.

The dish was used to serve sweets; but here I have loaded it with bakelite teaspoons from the same era. I like the colours; the spoons are Tilley bakelite, also made in Sydney. Tilley specialised in cutlery, especially picnicware [and I have collected quite a bit.]

The MCP boomerang dish is in excellent vintage condition, and is for sale: $AU45

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Penny Inkwells

Penny inkwells,
made in Victoria, Australia 1880-1910

This is a collection of ‘penny’ inkwells; there 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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#70sstyle

Bessemer platter, made in Australia 1970s
Vogue jugs, made in Australia 1970s

I have posted 70s melamine ware previously- I am drawn to the colours and forms of these beautifully designed pieces.  I collect two Australian manufacturers- Bessemer and Vogue.

Bessemer products – made from melamine – were made by the Nylex Melmac Corporation which started production in the mid 60s. This beautiful platter [and the subject of previous posts, I have collected a lot of Bessemer!] was designed by Lionel Suttie, an industrial designer.

It’s interesting that Mr Suttie is remembered as Bessemer’s lead designer: this was the first time that tableware made from plastic [melamine] was thought to be worthy of design – with an illustrative art statement. The platter certainly pays homage to late mid-century modernist design in its colours and abstract forms.

Bessemer is now quite collectable: I have seen some incredible prices on items in ‘antique’ shops. I’m not sure I can come at the idea of retro collectables being antiques, but clearly others can. Bessemer rates a mention in Adrian Franklin’s Retro: A Guide to the mid-20th Century Design Revival [2011, NewSouth Publishing.]

While Bessemer led the way, employing an industrial designer to design tableware, Vogue followed suit. ‘Vogue Australia’ is imprinted on the bottom of these jugs; since the manufacturer name Vogue was also used in North America, at about the same time.

The platter and jugs can be used as intended- melamine is a strong plastic resistant to scratching and these pieces are ‘as new’ – or they can form part of a funky 70s display. 70s melamine is totally collectable.

The platter and jugs are for sale: $AU45
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Bakewells jugs

Bakewells graduated jugs
made in Australia 1930s

Bakewells started production in 1884 and like so many potteries, moved away from making industrial ceramic products -like bricks and pipes- to domestic wares in the early part of the twentieth century. By the early 30s Bakewells was making pudding bowls and graduated jugs in multi colours-  all to meet the insatiable demand of the new middle class. Bakewells is now very well known and very collectible.

This is an image from my own kitchen [and kitchenalia collection]- but I draw your attention to the Bakewells graduated jugs in green on the top shelf. I have just recently added to this collection – and find I have no more room to display it: so for sale are three green graduated jugs: similar to the first three of the four jug set seen here. You only need find the fourth- smallest- to create a set.

The jugs, being made in the 30s, have art deco flourishes: the shape, handle and applied decoration are all deco inspired. And the jugs are functional, as well as beautiful: we use ours to serve sauces and gravies [especially if we make art deco gravies. Only kidding- that sounds horrible!]

The three green graduated jugs are in excellent vintage condition, and are for sale: $AU95

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70s goblets

Diana ‘Safari’ goblets
made in Australia 1970s

My regular readers know how much I love Diana pottery- made in a pottery near where I now live, in Marrickville, Sydney from 1940 to 1975. I especially love the 40s and 50s pottery…and until recently have not so much enjoyed the 70s [having actually lived through it in Australia– it was rough.]

BUT now I have a photographer son- who takes all my images- and he totally embraces the 70s. Where I see brutalist brutalism, he sees a weird, fresh take on colour and form.

I have not- I note- seen him embrace my love of the 40s and 50s. I have tried. Lord knows. Parental responsibility is taken seriously. But- no dice. Clearly, we can only embrace that which we have not personally lived through. Until… we see it through fresh eyes.

For Diana ‘Safari’ aficionados- I have other pieces available on the blog. And- the goblets are for sale: $AU25.  They are in great vintage condition.
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