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.
Toothpick holder, and Tasmanian pins
made in Australia, 1960s
Don’t you love a good toothpick holder? Obviously no one uses toothpicks any more- but they make such a good vintage receptacle for pins, hatpins, badges- anything on a stick!
This is a stylised bird toothpick holder that I found in Tasmania. Elsewhere on that same trip I found these fantastic Tasmanian pins- and so put two and two together.
I would love to see this birdy put to use displaying hat pins- so collectable right now. The holder is in terrific vintage condition, never having actually held anything before today- so would make a great receptacle for your pin collection. And- if you are into vintage/Tasmanian pins- so much the better!
This guy holds twelve pins: and is for sale: $AU25 [including pins]
Hornsea Saffron condiment set
made in England, 1970s
Here we have a lovely condiment set: mustard pot and salt & pepper shakers- all with teak lids- in a teak tray.
Hornsea is famous for its 70s patterns; always two apposite colours in a geometric pattern. I’ve showcased them all: Saffron, Heirloom and Bronte.
I grew up with this 70s oppositional style: and have only now come to embrace it again. Especially now it’s so collectable! I have styled the egg cup with wattle: it kinda recalls the yolk and i like how the mustard pot can become a egg cup can / become a vase. I have the teak cover, so it can be used as a mustard pot too!
The breakfast set is in great vintage condition, and is for sale: $AU35
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
Here is my burgeoning brass & timber candlestick collection. You’ll note they all have the same candle [important stylistically] but the only things that unite the candlesticks is the material and the age.
Admittedly, the second one is timber veneer on top of timber, but timber is timber [especially in the 50s!] The first candlestick is ecclesiastical [came from a church]; and the last two are teak, fashioned after Danish pieces. All made in Australia! – another element that unites the collection.
This could be the start of a great collection – or just be four stylish candlesticks to adorn the dinner table. The candlesticks [sans candles- they are from Ikea!] are for sale: $AU55
This is a fabulous wall barometer- and temperature gauge- made from blackwood timber, in the shape of Tasmania.
The barometer was a wedding gift to a couple in the 60s – and has faithfully recorded the air pressure [barometer] and air temperature [thermometer] since then. I particularly like the fonts used for the barometer – it is very old school, where each condition has its own curlicue lettering: ‘stormy, rain, change, fair, very dry.’ That last one is -of course- referring to wit.
In excellent working order, and ready to hang, the barometer is for sale: $AU45
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
A lovely pair of oak bookends, lined with green felt – for those of us who still read/collect/store books. The bookends are solid timber, made in the 40s from English Oak grown in Australia.
The timber bookends, though made in the 40s presage the modernist 50s whilst harking back to art deco of the 20s. They are a bit of an amalgam – but then so is harvesting an English Oak for an Australian bookend. If these were made today, there is any number of Australian hardwoods that could have been used.
I have styled the bookends with a small sample of our Observer book collection. Observer books are quite collectible; there is one hundred in the series starting with ‘British Birds’ in 1937 [no 1] and finishing with ‘Wayside and Woodland’, 2003 [no 100.]. They are pocket-sized field-research books and naturally to have all 100 would be a collectors dream.
I collected these ice buckets because I loved the idea of using them with the bakelite blender [the ‘Vitamizer’, posted below] at cocktail parties. I am very partial to a martini, which while not strictly needing a blender, does require the service of an ice bucket. The blender was good for making frozen daiquiris, which my guests favoured. Either way – an ice bucket was totally necessary, and who wants to use a modern one?
I have ended up with a few ice buckets…and in researching these, I found quite a few avid collectors out there. People collect ice buckets. And why not- they look fantastic displayed together [and they’re good for storing ice…amongst other things…]
The bucket to the left in the image is made from Scandinavian teak, and has matching tongs. The red plastic bucket has a brass handle, and has matching tongs. The only ice bucket with any branding – the Dia Ice Pail, made by Dia Vacuum bottle Industries Co. Ltd, is anodised aluminium and steel [with a ‘vacuum’ white plastic interior] and it comes with…you guessed it…matching tongs. Matching tongs are so important at a cocktail party.
Fred Press, American artist Lionel Suttie, Australian industrial designer
Fred Press was an American artist, and from 1950 to the 1980s was the chief designer of Rubel & Co on NY’s Fifth Avenue. He set out to revolutionise giftware, bringing his artistic sensibilities to domestic ware. Here we see a cheese/fruit board, in the shape of an apple, with one of his iconic drawings reproduced on the ceramic tile. The tile itself was made in Japan and is set in American teak, and it is signed Fred Press.
Lionel Suttie was an Australian industrial designer, bought in to Bessemer to revolutionise the design of utility ware– butter dishes, sugar bowls and table ware. This was the first time mass produced melamine products were thought worthy of design – or that they could make could make a design statement. In this image- a russet brown lidded condiment bowl, an avocado cup and saucer and a yellow sugar bowl.
Altogether a fine homage to the 70s -and- 70s designers.