Australia in the #40s and #50s

Australian Souvenirware,
made in Czechoslovakia, England, Australia 1940-50s

A selection of hand-coloured, photographic transfer prints of various Australian cities and landmarks made in the 40s and 50s. What a great wall feature they’d make!

Featured herein are beaches, streets, bridge and bridge approaches and traffic bridges, parks, clocks, landmarks, harbours, town halls, parliament houses and rivers [and I quote] :

  • Harbour Beach, Manly
  • Prince Street, Grafton
  • Belmont, Lake Macquarie
  • Bridge Approach, Shoalhaven River from Showground, Nowra
  • Bridge, Shoalhaven River, Nowra
  • Traffic Bridge, Macksville
  • Machattie Park, Bathurst
  • Dr Evershed Memorial Clock, Bega NSW
  • Bottle Rock, Coonabarabran
  • Ulladulla Harbour, NSW
  • Town Hall, Rockhampton QLD
  • Perth, WA
  • Parliament House, Canberra
  • Murray River, Corowa.

Makers are all noted on the backstamps: Victoria, IBC, Royal Grafton Bone China, Royal Stafford Bone China, Westminster China [the last, weirdly from Australia.]

All fifteen plates are in great vintage condition and provide a snapshot of important landmarks in Australia, as judged by tourists in the 40s and 50s. Or – as I mentioned – massed together they would make a fantastic wall feature.

The souvenirware plates are for sale: $AU120

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Collectable pincushion

Drummer Man pincushion
made in Occupied Japan, 1940s

This is a pin cushion [sadly missing the actual pin cushion] from Occupied Japan. Occupied Japan items are now highly collectable – it’s the term used for the period from 1945-1952 (after World War II) when the Allies “occupied” Japan. This short period – seven years – and the fact that ceramics produced during the time were all copies of renowned European potteries, and particularly Victorian-era figurines, have made the items quite rare.

The Drummer Man would have originally had a stuffed velvet cushion in the hollow of his drum; most pin cushions collected today have lost this piece and most collectors decide not to restore it. The [original] Drummer Man himself is a turn of the century relic- a stylised cartoon version of the little drummer boy. It is hand-painted, and in excellent vintage condition.

The Drummer Man will appeal to pin cushion collectors; and also to Occupied Japan ceramics collectors. It is for sale: $AU35

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Split cane hat rack

Split cane hat rack, 1940sSplit cane hat rack
made in Australia 1940s

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.

The hack rack is for sale: $AUD125

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Pates table vases

Pates vases, 40s-50sPates vases
made in Sydney, Australia 1946-1958

I have waxed lyrical previously about my love of the ‘Australian’ green and brown hues of Sydney pottery of the post-war period…and here are some more examples from my collection. Pates pottery operated out of Belmore- an industrial suburb of inner-Sydney, from 1946 and only ceased production in 1990.

Here is a selection of Pates vases in brown/green hues; two ‘lotus’ vases and a ‘log’ vase. Like many Pates vases, these shapes came in a variety of colours to suit the late 40s, early 50s décor. I decided my personal collection would be these ‘Australian’ colours [reminiscent of the bushland] – rather than the baby blues and powder pink or pastel yellow tones; but have rather too many to use or display now.

This set of Pates vases is in excellent vintage condition, and is for sale: $AU65

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Australiana Kitchenalia [sold]

bakewells jug & bowl, fowler ware jugFowler Ware jugs & pudding basin
made in Australia 1940s

This set is a monochrome collection of Fowler Ware jugs and pudding bowl- in a creamy, off-white. Collecting in a single colour is quite dramatic, and these pieces look fantastic in a white or neutral toned kitchen. I was inspired by a friend who has about 15 off-white bowls sitting on the top of her kitchen cupboards- in that space below the ceiling.

These pieces are stoneware, and from the Fowler Ware ‘Utility’ range – perhaps off-white wasn’t as glamorous as the coloured pieces [see post below] and could be used every day.

The beauty of the off-white bowl is that any fruit/food/kitchen implement stored in them looks fantastic. And as mentioned in previous posts- the bowls are still great for…cooking puddings!

For sale: $AU80

40s souvenir ware [sold]

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.

The Mulga wood souvenir is for sale: $AU45

40s kitchenalia

Fowler Ware jug & Ibis condiment setFowler Ware jug, made in Australia 1940s
Ibis ‘lotus’ condiment set, made in Australia 1940s

Fowler Ware created industrial pottery in Glebe, Sydney commencing in the 1840s. After WWII, Fowler Ware moved to producing pottery for the domestic market : their pudding bowls and jugs were so popular that they opened a second pottery to cope with the demand. I have posted quite a few Fowler Ware jugs – this one is had that quintessential 40s rounded body shape, and is in a drip glazed green- rather than the more usual solid glaze colour.

Ibis bakelite is hard to come by: not a lot of it was made as the small factory in Melbourne only operated for a short period between the wars.

This is a condiment set, with stand; the salt and pepper shakers have been fashioned as stylised lotuses. The openings for the salt and pepper is a recessed screwed section hidden under the stand. [This set has now sold.]

The Fowler Ware jug is for sale: $AU45

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Knitting paraphernalia

Knitting gauges, counters, needles 40s-50sKnitting Paraphernalia
made in England, 1940-1950s

I am a knitter – and a collector – so naturally I have started to collect knitting paraphernalia. It’s sort of an amalgamation of my interests in the domestic arts- knitting- and technology. So here is a small selection: knitting gauges, knitting counters, and knitting needles.

The knitting gauges are all made from aluminium: the first is an impressed aluminium circle gauge, with sizes 5 to 16. It has no makers mark, and after countless hours [minutes] of research- I can’t find anyone who has ascertained the maker.

The second is a bell gauge made by Emu, in England in the 1940s. It’s a lovely anodised aluminium green: the Emu logo is a ball of wool with knitting needles for legs. It’s unusual in that it sizes needle gauges internally- rather than externally, which was the practice up to the 40s. It’s also unusual that an English firm would use an emu as its logo; at first I assumed this must be an Australian manufacturer.

The third gauge is a ’D-shaped’ gauge by Stratnoid Aluminium – this being the brand name of Stratton & Co, Birmingham. The gauge is unusual in that it indicates imperial and metric sizes.

I have just discovered that collecting needle gauges is a thing: it’s not just me!

The knitting counters sit on the end of the needle, and the end ring is rotated to move the counter to record the number of rows. These are 50s ‘rotary barrel’ counters, and are made of bakelite and plastic, by IX Products, and Millward. Millward termed these counters “Ro-Tally”.

Finally, the tortoise shell knitting needles – of which I have posted previously. Now much prized by knitters who suffer from arthritis, these needles are super-flexible, being made from an organic compound. Artists love them for the same reason.

The gauges are for sale: $AU60, the counters are for sale: $AU45, and the tortoise shell knitting needles are $200 for 20 pairs [assorted sizes.]

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Shadow Box [sold]

Shadow Box, 1940sShadow Box,
made in Australia 1940s

This fabulous Shadow Box was a staple in the interior furnishings of the 40s and 50s: it hangs on a wall to showcase knick-knacks and small ornaments. The timber has a great bevelled edge, and the two ‘boxes’ come apart to nest inside each other for transport/storage. The original flat pack!

Shadow Boxes were made in both square and circular shapes; and the square-shaped boxes were either two or three boxes, and the clever design means you can arrange the boxes so they are ascending or descending. And the depth of the boxes means that the tops can be used to display objects; so objects need not just be ‘framed’ within the boxes.

I’ve styled the Shadow Box with some dog figurines; but of course it would suit any small vintage collection.

The Shadow Box would make an excellent Christmas gift for a vintage collector, and it’s for sale: $AU40

Airline travel bag

Orbitours travel bag, 1960sAirline travel bag
Made in Hong Kong, 1960s

Airline bags have become SO popular and collectable that there are now reproductions of classic Qantas bags- made in China, c. 2014- being sold for crazy prices on EBay. A REAL Qantas travel bag should cost in the order of $AU100 – but a repro? That should go for ten bucks [that’s 2 bucks for materials & assembly, 1 buck to ship it, and 7 dollars or 70% profit to the seller.] AND it should be clearly marked as a repro.

So- how to tell a fake? Well, take this Orbitour travel bag for example. It has its original sticker inside:

‘Nylon Coated Plastic
Made In Hong Kong”.

Sporting an original sticker, and made in Hong Kong [rather than China]; plus – it has some stitching missing on one handle and a little on the zip. Repros are startlingly perfect, looking like a facsimile of the original. You can’t fake age!

And the colour- that super cobalt blue with slightly wonky white font – it’s correct for the 60s.

I’ve teamed the Orbitours bag with an old 40s school case. It’s had some repair work- new rivets hold a new internal timber frame to the lid, but the locks and hinges and metal handle are all still original and working. It was made by the ‘American Bag Stores, Travelling Goods Specialists’, in Australia [as described on the internal label.] Talk about an original!

The Orbitours bag [Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane] is for sale: $AU55
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The old school case is for sale: $AU45
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