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.
This is a superb example of split cane – a hat rack employing a complex interlacing of cane members with six hooks for six hats. The rack was made in the 40s so there is a bit of wear to the once shiny cane; I like the patina it has developed but you might want to re-varnish it; totally up to you.
Split cane became very fashionable in the 40s in Australia and furniture from the small – magazine rack- to the large- entire sofa suites was made from it. Australian cane has quite a distinctive dark spotty appearance which makes it very attractive; other cane tends to be more monochrome.
One of the hat hooks has sagged a little- giving the rack an asymmetrical appearance which I think is kinda nice. The cane is in excellent condition and the hook could be steamed and re-formed to its original shape if desired. The hat rack is ready to hang.
Two delightful jigsaws, made from timber, in Australia in the 60s. The first was made by Louise Rayner Toys; the second – a teaching clock, is unmarked. Both jigsaws came from a nursery school, who purchased them in the 60s but now deemed them too ‘old-fashioned’ for today’s children. So – hello – retro!
I do remember playing with a clock jigsaw when I was at nursery school- the plastic handles are adjustable and have to be moved in order to get all the pieces in. And I just love the funky glasses on the coloured jigsaw- which is very ‘analogue’ with a clock and a rotary telephone!
Both jigsaws are in excellent vintage condition; with very little wear and are for sale: $AU45
Clock and barometer souvenir
made in Australia 1940s
I’ve featured quite a bit of Mulga wood on this blog: . and a fair bit of kitsch. Often Mulga wood and kitsch go hand-in–hand, as is the case here. Mulga wood was used in 1940s 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 is the Australia-shaped base of this 40s souvenir.
The clock- with alarm and glow-in-the-dark numbers and hands, is paired with a barometer [working; naturally it’s in Fahrenheit] and a gilt koala. The wind-up clock is functional- but I can’t attest to its accuracy. But a barometer and a clock and a gilt koala all on an Australia-shaped Mulga wood base? Doesn’t get much better!
I’ve teamed the souvenir with a Bushell’s tea jar from the same era. The rusted lid adds another brown tone, and the glass picks up the glass on the clock and barometer.
A fantastic Mahjong set of bamboo and bone: made in Japan in the 30s!
Complete with betting sticks, wind of the round, and a great 30s case. I am speaking to you Mahjong players out there…this is a gorgeous set.
I learned to play Mahjong in my 20s. It’s a mixture of cards and gin-rummy; but with a tactile placement and playing of tiles. You can play fast and dirty and win –or go for an impossible hand; a combination of ideas, collections or collaborations – and get a way better score.
We play it as a family every Christmas – which is why I associate it with this time. I always go for the impossible score – because I like the odds – and also, because it encourages others to win!