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.
Souvenirware printed with a kookaburra or a kangaroo in Japan was exported all across Australia in the 40s and 50s; the ‘greetings’ handpainted by the recipient- not always terribly professionally- as seen here. I like the combination of the printed kookaburra and the naive handpainted greeting; it epitomizes Australia of this era.
Taree is a small country town on the mid-north coast of NSW. It is an agricultural town, but that doesn’t mean that sourvenirware should necessarily showcase agricultural products. The kookaburra is an internationally known icon- and visitors wanting an Australian souvenir would be drawn to it. Only the name of the town changed!
The 40s plate, marked ‘Made in Japan’ on the underside, has some subtle art deco stylings in the shaping, making it somewhat quaint. Altogether- a fine thing.