Carnation champagne flutes

Retro champagne flutes
made in Australia, c.1950s

I’m rather fond of these kitsch decorated champagne flutes – the gilt rim and base helping somewhat to offset the rather garish carnations. The glasses were won in a golf tournament by my partner’s brother- and they had pride of place in the family’s display cabinet for many, many years. I don’t think they were ever used to imbibe champagne…they were considered far too precious. They were for display [and admiration] purposes only.

The set now needs a new home – I’m imagining a nice mid-century modern drinks cabinet…where they can be taken out from time to time to drink champagne. Or beer. Beer would also be good.

For sale: $AUD55

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Aboriginal motif kitsch

50s Aboriginal motif s&p, jugAboriginal motif salt & pepper shaker sets, and small jug
made in Australia c.1950s

While none of these items has a maker’s mark, the salt and pepper shakers at the back are possibly by Terra Ceramics, and the round shakers to the left are possibly Florenz Pottery. The small jug is probably Studio Anna. All these potteries were making tourist and souvenir pottery by the 1950s, and these appropriated [and westernised] indigenous motifs were hugely popular. Post war arts and crafts saw a rise in the popularity of Australiana – replacing traditional English motifs with ‘Australian’ themes; invariably Aboriginal motif works were black, tan and white.

This group works well as a set, or could form the basis of a larger collection. The items on their own are very kitsch…but somehow when grouped the kitschness is subverted into a subtler aesthetic.

This set is for sale: $AU125

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50s Australiana kitsch

Gambit Ware 'Ceramique' Australiana leaf platesGambit Ware ‘Australiana’ leaf plates
made in Australia 1950s

Here is another part of my collection: anything botanically themed always gets me in. Add to that these plates were designed and made in Australia- celebrating our unique flora in the post war period. AND this is ‘Ceramique’ – an early melamine material that was developed to revolutionise ceramic – it would ‘never chip or break.’

The stylised plates came in simple pastel colours, but were quite botanically detailed- they include wattle, banksia, kurrajong, mulga leaves- to name a few. The simple colouring meant that each leaf shape was reproduced in six colours- so one could buy a set of six ‘for display OR kitchen purposes’!

This image shows another part of my collection- at last count I had 50 plates. Plates with their labels intact are worth significantly more. The Ceramique has certainly lived up to its name- there isn’t a chip or a crack on any of the plates, although colour fading has occurred on a few.

Kitschy – yes. But 50s Australian kitsch- I love it!

This selection of Gambit Ware is for sale: $125 [13 pieces]

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Genie Lamp vase

MCP Genie Lamp vase #257MCP ‘Genie Lamp’ vase #257
made in Sydney, Australia c1950

MCP- Modern Ceramic Products- started production in the 1940s, in Redfern, Sydney. MCP made strong geometric forms with very modernist styling – and a highly textured exterior finish to contrast with the smooth internal glaze. This two-toned aesthetic meant each vase shape could be made in a wide range of iterations- albeit along the 50s spectrum of baby blue, pale pink and pale yellow.

I’ve sold several- beautiful- MCP vases; have a look on the SOLD tab. They are now very collectible and it’s getting harder to find these beauties.

This ‘Genie Lamp’ vase is in baby blue. It is stamped ‘#257 MCP’ on the base, and it looks good with anything from old fashioned roses [referencing the 50s] to contemporary structural arrangements- like Eucalypt leaves.

The Genie Lamp vase is for sale: $AUD55

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Slide viewers

Marquis and Viscount slide viewersMarquis slide viewer, made in Sydney, Australia c.1950
Viscount slide viewer, made in England c.1960

How fantastic is this baby pink Marquis slide viewer? The pink section is plastic, whilst the black section is bakelite. This slide viewer comes in its original box and is in near mint condition.

The Viscount viewer is nearly a decade older, and it evidences the transition from the modernist forms of the 50s to the more funky shapes of the 60s. It too comes in its original box.

Both viewers are working well – and replacement bulbs for them are still available. Which means there is no excuse for having photographic slides around that are not being used. You can go automatic with a large format projection [see slide projector/s below]…or view your slides individually and more intimately with these hand held viewers.

I do have a few slide viewers in my collection…I love the way they work – large glass viewing lens, small bulb and battery. And they look great massed together as a group – they are both functional AND aesthetic.

The slide viewers are for sale: $AUD55 each.

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Vintage camera

Ferrania Eura camera, 1959Ferrania Eura camera
made in Milan, Italy 1959

Ferrania was founded in Italy in 1923 – and still produces ‘point and shoot’ cameras today. The ‘Eura’ camera was made in 1959, and comes in its original vinyl case [made by Maves, also of Milan.] It uses medium format film- 120mm – which is still available; and comes with its original instruction booklet [in Italian and English]; and two helpful booklets produced by Ferrania : ‘Photography by artificial light- hints for amateurs’ and ‘It’s easy to take good photographs’ by Alfredo Ornano.

I’m not sure if the camera still works as it hasn’t been tested, but the original bag and 50s instruction booklets were too fabulous to pass up. There are some great YouTube clips evidencing the great photos that can be taken with the Eura – I think Alfredo Ornano would be well chuffed!

The Ferrania Eura camera is for sale: $AUD85

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Swinnertons Chelsea Blue

Swinnertons Chelsea Blue crockerySwinnertons Chelsea Blue
made in Staffordshire, England c.1950s

This set comprises 4 dinner plates, 4 side plates and 4 cake plates. The colour is described as ‘duck egg blue’.

I had been hunting for the matching Chelsea Blue coffee and tea sets, but upon reflecting how lovely the harlequin crockery sets are [see for example Swinnertons Nestor Vellum ‘Moonglo’ sets, below] I can’t actually imagine having a set all one colour.

Also, for some unexplained reason, the Chelsea Blue jug looks so wrong with the rest of the set- it is overblown, and has some quasi-20s affectations…what were they thinking? This is the 50s, people! I couldn’t bring myself to buy it – and left it on the shelf- which was probably a first for me.

This would be a good starter set for a harlequin table setting for 8 – just collect similar 50s colours in the same simple, rounded forms. Or just use as is – how good would cake look on those duck egg blue plates!

For sale: $AUD120

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Doggy bookends

ceramic dog bookends, Japan, 1950sCeramic dog bookends
made in Japan 1950s

These doggy bookends- cocker spaniels, I believe, were made in the 50s. They both have a large hole in the base- which I always believed was for glazing/firing purposes – but no- apparently this hole allows the bookends to be filled with sand, and then corked to seal. The sand allows the bookends to have a heavier mass, and so withstand the forces of all the books. I had no idea.

The book ends are shown here with our burgeoning Observer book collection – they are just the right scale for the books. I have not filled the bookends with sand – but leave that to the next owner.

The bookends would suit a reader with a library, or – a cocker spaniel enthusiast. The doggy bookends are for sale: $AUD80

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Bakelite napkin rings

Bakelite napkin ringsBakelite napkin rings
made in Sydney, Australia 1950s

This set of harlequin octagonal bakelite napkin rings was made by Marquis in the 50s. Harlequin refers to the different colours [indeed, one of the rings is ‘end-of-day’ bakelite.] End-of-day bakelite was the pattern formed when whatever bits of bakelite where left where thrown together into the mould.

In the 50s everything was ‘harlequin’ – think sets of anodised aluminium beakers. This was actually a clever marking ploy- if you lost/broke one piece of a set, it was easily replaced – since nothing matched by colour, pattern or manufacturer.

Marquis was a huge bakelite manufacturer- they made everything that could be made from bakelite- from kitchen utensils, to light switches, to 35mm slide viewers. Indeed, I seem to have quite a few kitchen scoops, butter dishes, teaspoons, salt and pepper shakers and slide viewers made by Marquis in my collection.

I love the form of these napkin rings: octagonal shape on the outside – so the napkin ring sat easily on a table- but circular inside form – so the napkin could be smoothly set in place. Form and function, people! And just look at those beautiful bakelite colours.

Bakelite continues to be a sought after collectible: and this set of eight napkin rings is for sale: $AUD80

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Guy Boyd goblets

Guy Boyd goblet set
made in Sydney, Australia 1950s

This is a really, really rare set of Guy Boyd goblets. The form of the vessel- the goblet- was only produced in very limited quantities. To find an original set [rather than re-create a set, one piece at a time] is also rare.

The Boyds are a famous Australian family of artists. Martin Boyd pottery started in Cremorne, Sydney in 1946- but Martin doesn’t exist, instead it was Guy [Martin] Boyd who was the chief ceramicist. The pottery was in operation from 1946-1964, with 1957-58 being the peak production period.

All Guy Boyd pottery is made [and signed] by hand so there is a slight variation between any pieces in a set. The pottery is instantly recognisable from the edge band of unglazed pottery that always separates the two toned pieces. The colours are quintessentially 50s.

This fabulous goblet set would be great for Christmas drinks! It is for sale: $AU75
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