I love bakelite and have collected Australian bakelite for some time. Although I don’t usually go for ashtrays these pieces show no sign of ever having been used and are in the form of Australia [‘Greetings from Brisbane’] and Tasmania. Who could resist?
Also, ashtrays [that haven’t been used and so have no physical scars] make great pin dishes – excellent for jewellery collections. And Australian bakelite collectors love bakelite in the shape of Australia.
These two pieces of 50s Australiana are for sale: $AU55 Buy Now
Crystal Craft has become uber trendy for collectors: it’s a resin-covered fabric that originated in Queensland in the 70s. These two pieces – turtle ashtray and dolphin wall plaque- feature ‘marine opal’ [aka polished abalone shell for New Zealand readers.] ….Although, clearly, marine opal sounds much better.
I take some comfort in knowing that while abalone was “taken by divers from the Pacific” [as Crystal Craft labels inform] at least the whole animal was used. The abalone shell polishes up a treat and looks great under resin!
The Crystal Craft turtle and dolphin are for sale: $AU35
Retro whiskey jugs and ice buckets
made in England and Australia, 1950-60s
The yellow Macnish whiskey jug, is by Wade [England] and the green Four Seasons whiskey jug is by Elischer [Australia.] Both are advertisement’ jugs which were mass produced and given away to pubs –not sold to the public- with the idea that the public would be so impressed by the glamour of having water added to their drink by a ‘branded jug’ that they would continue to order their whisky by name. Ah! the 60s, when advertising and impressing people was so easy!
Both Wade and Elischer pottery is very collectible – and especially so ‘barware’. The jugs are sure to glam up your next cocktail soiree!
The ice buckets are also pretty glam: the black is advertising Tintara – ‘A Black Bottle Brandy – Such a Friendly Brandy’ – and was made by Hardy’s, a South Australian winery. The orange bucket is unmarked but adds a little 60s charm to the group. Both ice buckets have removable inserts and their original [plastic] tongs and lids.
Duperite bakelite roulette wheel, made in Australia c.1950s
How do you combine your love of bakelite with your penchant for gambling? With a bakelite roulette wheel. [Catalogue No. 1324/1, to be precise.] This beautiful roulette wheel hasn’t been out of its box- it is in pristine condition although its box has seen some wear and tear. It comes with a printed green felt baize [not pictured] and a little timber ball ~which was still taped to the wheel when I bought the set.
I have other bakelite items made by Duperite- see ‘Green bakelite pieces’ post below- an Australian bakelite company that made, as well as domesticware, lawn bowls and -apparently- roulette wheels. I must have been the only person who didn’t have one at home as a child…everyone I have shown this roulette wheel to has exclaimed that they remember having one! That might explain why 1] I am so attracted to it [pure envy] and 2] why it elicits so many nostalgic sighs from my friends.
I use these canisters- with their funky 60s colours – to store my retro sewing collection. Any sort of see-through canister is great for re-use – as is stackability – a great 60s invention. These Pyrex canisters came in 4 different sizes- the largest is shown here.
You can collect the canisters in the colour-ways; green, yellow, orange, red or blue. Check the Pyrex motif is on the base- there are a few fake imitations around. They don’t make them like they used to.
Of course, you can still use the canisters in the kitchen for their original purpose: just make sure the sealing ring is intact. I have only collected canisters with the original rings, even if they are only storing buttons. Email me if you’d like to buy!
Retro milk bottle holders
made in Australia c.1950s
Who doesn’t remember the nightly ritual of putting out the milk bottle holder, with a note for the milkman as to the number of milk bottles required? Okay, that was in the olden days…but I can just remember.
These two milk bottle holders are lovely examples of the then ’new’ technology of PVC coated steel. The PVC coating was ‘kinder on the hands’ than the raw metal and it had the added benefit of delaying the corrosion of the metal. And all kinds of colour were possible!
Both these holders could carry four pint-sized [glass] milk bottles. Nowadays, the holders are good for all sorts of repurposing – I have seen them used as mobile vase holders, or mobile herb gardens. Four terracotta pots fit snuggly into the spaces and the holder sits on the window sill in the sun to grow various herbs. When it’s time for harvesting, the holder is moved to the kitchen. Funky and practical!
The milk bottle holders are in excellent condition – even the white holder shows no sign of wear and tear. I haven’t been able to ascertain the manufacturer, but the person from whom I bought the holders assured me they were Australian in origin. From prosaic functional item of yesteryear, milk bottle holders are now quite sought after and highly collectible. That’s nostalgia for you! For sale: $AUD65
Gambit 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]
Marquis slide viewer, made in Sydney, Australia c.1950 Viscount slide viewer, made in England c.1960
How fantastic is this baby pink Marquis slide viewer? The pink section is plastic, whilst the black section is bakelite. This slide viewer comes in its original box and is in near mint condition.
The Viscount viewer is nearly a decade older, and it evidences the transition from the modernist forms of the 50s to the more funky shapes of the 60s. It too comes in its original box.
Both viewers are working well – and replacement bulbs for them are still available. Which means there is no excuse for having photographic slides around that are not being used. You can go automatic with a large format projection [see slide projector/s below]…or view your slides individually and more intimately with these hand held viewers.
I do have a few slide viewers in my collection…I love the way they work – large glass viewing lens, small bulb and battery. And they look great massed together as a group – they are both functional AND aesthetic.
Ferrania was founded in Italy in 1923 – and still produces ‘point and shoot’ cameras today. The ‘Eura’ camera was made in 1959, and comes in its original vinyl case [made by Maves, also of Milan.] It uses medium format film- 120mm – which is still available; and comes with its original instruction booklet [in Italian and English]; and two helpful booklets produced by Ferrania : ‘Photography by artificial light- hints for amateurs’ and ‘It’s easy to take good photographs’ by Alfredo Ornano.
I’m not sure if the camera still works as it hasn’t been tested, but the original bag and 50s instruction booklets were too fabulous to pass up. There are some great YouTube clips evidencing the great photos that can be taken with the Eura – I think Alfredo Ornano would be well chuffed!