I have a ‘thing’ for Mulga wood- I’ve featured quite a bit of it on the blog. Mulga wood was used in 1940-50s for souvenir works as it is a hardwood –unusual in a native from the wattle family – and was considered ‘export quality’. The timber is cut and arranged to show off its famous bi-colouring, as seen in these ‘beehive’ bookends.
These are ‘beehive’ bookends in the classic shape: it was a popular form in the 50s and seen in everything from knitting guages to car manufactures logos- to –of course- hairstyles.
The hardwood was first turned on a lathe, then cut in half to form bookends with a straight edge; then polished to a gloss. Often example of the bark was retained- as seen in these bookends- to contrast with the high glass finish. And the weight of the hardwood makes for excellent book ends; nothing is going to push these babies over.
For all your boiled egg-eating or coffee-stirring needs [refer last two posts]- here is a boxed set [never used] of silver plated teaspoons hailing from the Old Dart.
From left to right we have- represented by their flags- England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Great Britain and London. SO- Great Britain of the 60s.
My whole family is English- I am first generation Australian- and so have an affinity for anything Old Dartish. These teaspoons, being silver-plated, would have been an expensive gift to bring back as a travel gift; and I expect that since they have never been out the box, the gift recipient knew this and put the box away in the “good room”.
It’s time that the spoons were put to their purpose- or maybe made into an art piece- but released from the box! The set is for sale: $AU45
I love souvenirware! It’s so of its time – and kitschiness is guaranteed. Here we have two pieces from Queensland. An ashtray- although no indication of such in its form – until you read the text:
Please use this bloody ashtray- its [sic] paid for, the carpet isn’t!
Ah Surfers Paradise! The name says it all- endless beaches of white sand where surfers come to experience paradise. And smoke cigarettes, pausing only to stub them out on the hotel carpet.
And – the rolling pin. Nothing says Kuranda [‘the Village in the Rainforest’] like a miniature rolling pin. Perhaps the pin is made of rainforest timber? Quelle horreur! No, wait, that’s only pine.
These two Queensland souvenirs are for sale: $AU15
Westminster ‘Sierra’ platter
made in Australia, 1962
Despite both exotic names [Westminster, evoking England] and Sierra [evoking America] this platter with it’s gay 60s abstract flowers was made in Australia.
Westminster started making souvenirware under the name Stanley Rogers & Sons in Melbourne in 1954. They imported blank ceramic pieces from Japan which they then decorated locally. By the 60s the name was changed to Westminster Fine China – to suggest a longer and more illustrious history – and a much larger range of tea sets and dinner sets where produced. These were decorated with bright, abstract flower arrangements [sometimes in very 60s and 70s gaudy colours.] On the whole, this platter in the ‘Sierra’ pattern is quite restrained.
The platter is in good vintage condition, and is for sale: $25
Viewmaster Junior Projector
made in Portland, Oregon 1957
The first Viewmaster was made in the 1930s by William Gruber, who was fascinated with Nineteenth Century stereoscopes. He partnered with Sawyers Co. to produce viewers which debuted at the 1939 World’s Fair.
This ‘Junior’ projector was made in 1957 – at the same time all the classic bakelite hand-held Viewmasters were made. These were called the Model C Viewer and were made from 1946-1955. But while the hand-helds view reels in stereoscope, this projector- using the same reels- projects in monoscope. The projector is cast metal and bakelite, and has a similar level mechanism to advance the reels as the hand-helds, and all reels made are compatible. The projector comes in its original box, which is in good vintage condition.
Along with this fantastic junior ‘toy’ [every child in the 50s wanted one!] come a great range of original 50s reels. The range from Australia themes [“5010 The Great Barrier Reef”, “5121 Adelaide & Vicinity”] to American themes [“291 California Wild Flowers”, “157 New York City”] and for some odd reason, a single Movie Star themed: “Gene Autry and his wonder horse Champion”. That’s a real corker!
The Junior Projector is for sale: $AU120. For a full list of the reels, please email : reretroblog.gmail.com
The Dirty Dogs of Paris,
Lithograph by Boris O’Klein, Paris, 1930s
This is a framed souvenir print from Paris, in the 30s. The lithograph – featuring dogs each with a “human personality”, was hugely popular and printed [and hand-coloured] in the thousands. This one was bought to Australia as a gift in the late 1930s, and apparently was much admired and giggled over, due to the risqué scene. Oh those French artists!
Boris O’Klein [real name Arthur Klein, a Russian emigre] was an illustrator and artist in Paris, but he was most well-known for his Dirty Dogs print series. Boris [1833-1985] lived to a ripe old age, and the Dirty Dog prints were still being produced in the 70s, albeit by protégés and not Boris himself.
The print is signed ‘Chacun son tour’ [“each turn”]- Copyright by O’Klein, Chamarandle [S.&O.] Eauforte orginate. It’s still in its original frame and glass, and the hand-colouring is as vibrant as the day it was painted.
Studio Anna wall plates & salt and pepper shakers
made in Australia 1950s
I am particularly drawn to kitsch pottery that has landscape or botanical images…so souvenir ware from the 50s is right up my street! I have posted Studio Anna pottery previously- you might remember that it was situated right near where I now live, in inner-Sydney.
This very kitschy souvenirware was very popular in the 50s – and then it went out of fashion [in a big way] in the 70s and 80s. Rightly so, the appropriation – and kitschisation- of indigenous motifs was debated and condemned. Now, in this post-modernist era, enough time has passed and enough discussion ensued that we can now look on these very dated images with fondness and nostalgia.
The wall plates have a hanging device on the back, so they can be – hung on a wall; here the cities of Adelaide and Albury are celebrated. The salt and pepper shakers celebrate Moree. A nice start to a Studio Anna collection.
O Canada! Moose and squirrels [national animals] and cliché all around! If this was an Australian homage- it would be aboriginals and kangaroos. But that gilt is universal in its 3D kitschiness – I do so love it.
The timber in the first plaque is real- while only laminate in the second. But the 3D reality- really, does it get any better? For lovers of kitsch, no matter where you live! Imagine a whole wall – a collection of these babies….
Both plaques are in good vintage condition, and ready to hang. And they are for sale: $AU25
Here is a selection of Australian souvenir tea towels from the 60s and 70s. I love the colours and graphics of these linens- and since they have never been used [they are ‘new old stock’]- they remain vibrant. As souvenirware, the graphics are of Australian towns and feature Australian flora and fauna. Wattle, grevillea and koalas abound.
I bought these tea towels with the intention of making cushion covers [see examples in posts, below] – but came to the realisation that actually I have far too many and nobody could actually use a thousand pillows, not even in the most optimistic of circumstances.
The set comprises ten ‘as new’ linens, and they are for sale: $AU50