Bessemer jugs

Bessemer jugs
made in Melbourne, c. 1970s

Bessemer products – made from melamine – were made by the Nylex Melmac Corporation which started production in the mid 60s. These beautiful jugs [and the subject of future posts, I have collected a lot of Bessemer!] were 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 condiment or tableware made from plastic [melamine] was thought to be worthy of design – that the humble mass-produced plastic jug or butter dish could make a design statement. These jugs certainly do that- they pay homage to mid-century modernist design and in the colouring, homage to the 70s.

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

For sale: $AUD60

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70s lucite napkin rings

Guzzini 70s lucite napkin ringsGuzzini Fratelli napkin rings
made in Italy 1970s

70s Lucite napkin rings for your retro table setting. Guzzini have been making tableware items since 1912 and in 1938 started producing items in ‘Plexiglas’- the Italian proprietary name for Lucite [or Perspex as it is known in Australia.] And Guzzini is still producing perspex items today.

These beauties come in their original box and are in great condition. The box has fantastic 70s graphics and the title ‘Allacciatovaglioli’ which roughly translates as napkin ties [‘allaccia’=tie and ‘tovaglioli’= napkin.]

The napkin rings have been photographed with a rather groovy 70s perpetual calendar which has been sold. I am always on the lookout for these calendars- I love them!

The napkin rings are for sale: $AU45

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Red & white bakelite

Australian bakelite spice canistersBakelite spice canisters,
made in Australia 1940s

Here is a collection of red and red & white bakelite spice canisters, all Australian made, in the 1940s.

The front six canisters- two with sprinkle tops, are by Sellex; Nutmeg, Cloves, Ginger, Cinnamon, and one [indecipherable] other. The two canisters at the upper left are by Marquis, and the pair of canisters adjacent are by Nally.

All good Australian bakelite canister manufacturers. All the canisters have screw lids – which are all in good order. The labels to the Sellex canisters show vintage wear- after all, they are over 75 years old.

I have a set of matching kitchen canisters by Eon – also red and white- this colour combination is a winner- see posts, below.

The set of ten spice canisters is for sale: $AUD135

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Smiths Ringers

Smiths RingersRetro kitchen timers
Smiths Ringers, made in England, 1940s,1950s, 1960s

Perhaps I should have styled these three ‘ringers’ chronologically- as it is, the green ringer is bakelite and steel, with a glass cover- circa 1940, the middle ringer is the youngest- a mere slip of a thing from the 60s – brown coated metal, and the last, red ringer is all plastic- from the 1950s.

Each ringer is somewhat redolent of its age. I do like the fact that the 60s ringer is called ‘Ringer Girl’- if only the other two had similarly inspired names. All the ringers have different bell sounds- naturally- and due to their age and hard working life, are more suited as objects of beauty, rather than function. The green bakelite is a little faded, the brown metal is a little rusted in parts- as you’d expect from vintage items.

The ‘lemon’ tray lends a stylistic note to the image- but if you’d like to have it along with the ringers- let me know. This set is for sale: $AUD95

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Crystal Craft – gingham style [sold]

Crystal Craft spoon rest
made in Australia 1960s

Crystal Craft has become uber trendy for collectors: it is a resin-covered fabric that originated in Queensland in the 70s. This is a super 70s spoon rest- just look at the resin form and fabulous gingham pattern!

I can’t quite come at the passion some collectors have for Crystal Craft [being a child of the 70s and having had to live with it growing up] but younger collectors than I love it. I do like the gingham- and am devotee of this neat checkerboard design.

I have teamed the spoon rest with a Pyrex container of the same period, and an old bulb. The bulb is just for styling but the Pyrex container is available- I have collected this blue and a fabulous avocado green.

The gingham spoon rest is for sale: $AU12

Gayart Flower Wheel

“Easy to use! Fun to make! Gay and colourful flowers may be used to decorate bags, hats & dresses or make novelty earrings & costume jewellery!”  The blurb on the packaging says it all.

I can’t find any information on the date/age of the Flower Wheels, but anecdotally a friend of mine remembers making raffia flowers with them in primary school in the early 70s. I hope she made the raffia flowers into novelty earrings! or costume jewellery! Wouldn’t that be fun!

I like- and collect- sewing and knitting paraphernalia, and love these two gauges: the transparent plastic “Korbond 4” x 1” knitting gauge and the “Delyta dressmaker gauge”.

For sale: $AUD65

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Xylonite collection #2

Australian xylonite
made in 1910-1920s

Following my last post where the origin of xylonite was [briefly] explained : here’s my second collection.

Here we see hinged boxes: the top, ‘piano’ box would have housed jewellery, as would the lower two boxes [the ring box still contains it’s beige velvet interior and closing mechanism.]

The brush and penknife have jumped in from the last post; but are now shown with a cut-throat razor and hand-held mirror.

As noted in the last post, xylonite deteriorates with time and exposure to direct sunlight. These pieces are in fantastic condition for their age [and careful storage away from the Australian sun.] The piano box is particularly pristine.

This set is for sale: $AU275

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Xylonite collection #1

Australian Xylonite 1910-1930sXylonite collection
made in Australia 1910-1920s

Xylonite was first produced in 1875 – to imitate ivory. It was the first thermoplastic made – as an ivory substitute it was first used for knife handles and jewellery, then all manner of domestic products. Xylonite has tiny parallel striations of yellow and bone- which gives it a faux ivory look- although, interestingly- this was an accident. The manufacturers were attempting to create a timber-look-alike, so named the new celluloid product xylonite – ‘xylon’ being Greek for wood.

Whatever, the production of xylonite saved much real ivory being used. I first became interested in xylonite when I was researching bakelite [after first becoming interested in resin.] So I now have an abiding interest/affection for all types of vintage plastics.

This set of xylonite illustrates how- over time [and exposure to direct sunlight] the normally off-white plastic colour starts to yellow. And this is in excellent condition!- it is of course a hundred years old. The set comprises four lidded ladies boudoir containers, a boudoir tray, hair brush and pen knife and a gentleman’s stud container sans lid.

For the Xylonite collectors, this set is for sale: $AU325

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Bakelite domestica

Nally blue bakelite tray, made in Sydney, Australia  c.1940s
Dalson Products bakelite retractable washing lines, made in Melbourne, Australia c.1940s

And now for some more bakelite domestica!

This lovely speckled blue and white bakelite tray has distinctive art deco styling, with its embossed sunburst pattern. The speckled form of bakelite was often used with blue pieces- it has been noted previously [see ‘blue bakelite post, below] that blue bakelite is prone to break down to a murky brown colour. One solution was to mix the blue bakelite with another colour- usually a neutral colour- to help disguise any such deterioration.

The tray has performed well at many cocktail soirees, and I can attest to the understated glamour it brings to any occasion.

The three retractable washing lines are also very cute. They were made for the interior hanging of clothes.  Being retractable meant that one could wash and hang clothes on a rainy day, or it was used when travelling. The winding mechanism is working well on all three – and I like that the manufacturer’s name is cast into the contrasting bakelite winding handle. One could certainly use them today – for retro travel in style!

I recently found another retractable clothes line: this one is plastic, later in date, and made in England; coloured beige and green. The mechanism is exactly the same, but the handle has been modified- this is a 50s version. Surely there is a collector of indoor washing lines out there; Washingalia?

For sale: $AUD85

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Coffee collection

Ceramic coffee canister
made in Japan, 1960s

Further to my life-long quest to collect every known coffee canister – here is one posing as a coffee house. I’ve styled it with a Nally plastic coffee canister – Australian – of the same vintage. It’s interesting [to me anyway] that coffee wasn’t a big deal in the 60s – so that the canisters were smaller usually than tea- the bigger sized canisters in nested sets always belonged to sugar, rice and flour. Nowadays- I expect- sugar would be the smallest canister and coffee the largest!

Anyhoo- I like the idea of putting all my various single origin and coffee blends in different, miss-matched vintage coffee canisters. So far, all canisters- both plastic and ceramic- are roughly the same size – and just so happen to fit a bag of 250g coffee. So maybe those 60s canister makers did know what they were doing!

The ceramic ‘coffee house’ canister is in excellent vintage condition, and is for sale; $AU25

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