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

Buy Now

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

Buy Now

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

Buy Now

Swinnertons Chelsea Blue

Swinnertons Chelsea Blue crockerySwinnertons Chelsea Blue
made in Staffordshire, England c.1950s

This set comprises 4 dinner plates, 4 side plates and 4 cake plates. The colour is described as ‘duck egg blue’.

I had been hunting for the matching Chelsea Blue coffee and tea sets, but upon reflecting how lovely the harlequin crockery sets are [see for example Swinnertons Nestor Vellum ‘Moonglo’ sets, below] I can’t actually imagine having a set all one colour.

Also, for some unexplained reason, the Chelsea Blue jug looks so wrong with the rest of the set- it is overblown, and has some quasi-20s affectations…what were they thinking? This is the 50s, people! I couldn’t bring myself to buy it – and left it on the shelf- which was probably a first for me.

This would be a good starter set for a harlequin table setting for 8 – just collect similar 50s colours in the same simple, rounded forms. Or just use as is – how good would cake look on those duck egg blue plates!

For sale: $AUD120

Buy Now

Doggy bookends

ceramic dog bookends, Japan, 1950sCeramic dog bookends
made in Japan 1950s

These doggy bookends- cocker spaniels, I believe, were made in the 50s. They both have a large hole in the base- which I always believed was for glazing/firing purposes – but no- apparently this hole allows the bookends to be filled with sand, and then corked to seal. The sand allows the bookends to have a heavier mass, and so withstand the forces of all the books. I had no idea.

The book ends are shown here with our burgeoning Observer book collection – they are just the right scale for the books. I have not filled the bookends with sand – but leave that to the next owner.

The bookends would suit a reader with a library, or – a cocker spaniel enthusiast. The doggy bookends are for sale: $AUD80

Buy Now

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
Buy Now

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

Buy Now

Iconoclasts

Bonzo and NamatjiraAlbert Namatjira Mt. Giles print, Miniature Framing Company, 1950s, made in Australia
Bonzo napkin ring, 1920s, made in Japan

An unusual pairing- I know. But these two pieces are quite iconoclastic in their own way.

Bonzo the dog was the first cartoon character created in England, by George Studdy in 1922. Bonzo has been reproduced in a myriad ways since- and this early napkin ring is now highly sought after.

Albert Namatjira [1902-1959] was born near Alice Springs, and died aged only 57, at Alice Springs. Namatjira was a pioneer of contemporary Indigenous art: his watercolours of outback desert landscapes departed from the highly symbolic style of traditional Aboriginal art incorporating incredibly vivid colours in an overtly ‘Western’ style.

Both Bonzo and Namatjira have been in and out of fashion and are both back IN again in a huge way. So much so that my landscape drawing studio is full of framed Namatjira prints and I am always on the hunt for any more Bonzo pieces.

Kathie Winkle

Kathie Winkle ‘Calypso’
made by Broadhurst, England 1963

I am a huge Kathie Winkle fan: she produced over one hundred patterns for Broadhurst between 1958 and 1975. During this period, Kathie Winkie produced ironstone china with silkscreen printed decorations, with a hand-painted underglaze.

[So far on my blog: I have examples of: ‘michelle’, ‘calypso’, ‘corinth’, ‘kontiki’, ’newlyn’, ‘rushstone’, ‘electra’, ‘kimberley’, ‘taskent’, and ‘renaissance’.] I am becoming a kathie winkle nerd.

AND- while my family collected the ‘Rushstone’ pattern [c. 1960], my partner’s collected ‘Calypso’- produced in 1963.

So – this is a Calypso collection: a large oval platter, four side plates, four bowls, and four condiment bowls. Don’t you love how the condiment bowls extracted the dominant motif from the main design? These are probably my favourite part of the collection.

The Calypso collection is for sale: $AU220/ [13 pieces]

Buy Now