Aboriginal motif pottery – hello 1950s

Studio Anna & Florenz potteryStudio Anna ‘crab’ plate, made in Sydney Australia 1956
Florenz Pottery dish and ashtray, made in Sydney Australia 1950s

Both Studio Anna and Florenz Pottery had their pottery studios in Marrickville, Sydney – very near when I now live. The potteries lasted until the 70s- when gentrification and housing pressures saw them close. Marrickville is still a gritty inner-city place with an industrial/suburban mix.

Florenz started producing studio pottery in the 1930s and Studio Anna in 1953. These slip cast pottery items were made as souvenirware – the 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; and invariably Aboriginal motif works were black, tan and white.

The crab plate has some very minor chips on its edge [click on the image for zoom view] – and is marked Studio Anna on the underside. I am particularly drawn to the funky rounded-triangle shape of this piece. The dish and ashtray are unmarked, but presumed Florenz Pottery due to the quality/typology of the images and glazes. The three pieces make a nice ensemble with the rich ochres, and black and white patternings.

The three pieces are for sale: $AUD85 [price reflects the condition of the Studio Anna ‘crab’ plate]

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Vintage soda siphons

Vintage Australian soda siphonsSchweppes soda siphons,
made in Sydney, c.1948-1950

These lovely soda bottles are very collectible and all have etched & faceted glass– such a deal of detail just for soda water! Because the soda bottles are so highly prized they have been well researched and described – there is a wealth of information about them – which allows them to be accurately dated.

The glass bottles don’t photograph too well on my timber background, but if you click on the image and zoom in you can see the intricate glass etchings to the bottles.

All three bottles are etched: ‘Schweppes, [Australia] Ltd, 30 Fl Oz Soda Water’ and were one of the first soda bottles to have a plastic and metal top. I’ve seen all sorts of upcycling with siphon bottles, but for my money, I think they look great massed together on a bar, or near a window where light picks up the fantastic etching.

This collection is for sale: $AUD125

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Smiths Ringers

Smiths RingersRetro kitchen timers
Smiths Ringers, made in England, 1940s,1950s, 1960s

Perhaps I should have styled these three ‘ringers’ chronologically- as it is, the green ringer is bakelite and steel, with a glass cover- circa 1940, the middle ringer is the youngest- a mere slip of a thing from the 60s – brown coated metal, and the last, red ringer is all plastic- from the 1950s.

Each ringer is somewhat redolent of its age. I do like the fact that the 60s ringer is called ‘Ringer Girl’- if only the other two had similarly inspired names. All the ringers have different bell sounds- naturally- and due to their age and hard working life, are more suited as objects of beauty, rather than function. The green bakelite is a little faded, the brown metal is a little rusted in parts- as you’d expect from vintage items.

The ‘lemon’ tray lends a stylistic note to the image- but if you’d like to have it along with the ringers- let me know. This set is for sale: $AUD95

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50s earrings

50s earrings50s earrings
made in Australia

This is a set of six pairs of earrings- all screw-on or clip-ons. I started collecting 50s jewellery in the 80s- I would wear them with my op-shop bought clothes to university. The 80s was a time that fashion forgot – and although I was wearing ‘old’ stuff- at least it was well designed and didn’t sport leopard print or that horrible olive/gold colour scheme.

Now 50s clothes and jewellery is very collectible. These earrings are beautifully designed and made and stand up well against modern costume jewellery. There’s a colour / diamante to suit every outfit!

For sale: $AUD90

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Viewmaster Junior Projector

Viewmaster Junior Projector, 50s, USAViewmaster Junior Projector
made in Portland, Oregon 1957

The first Viewmaster was made in the 1930s by William Gruber, who was fascinated with Nineteenth Century stereoscopes. He partnered with Sawyers Co. to produce viewers which debuted at the 1939 World’s Fair.

This ‘Junior’ projector was made in 1957 – at the same time all the classic bakelite hand-held Viewmasters were made. These were called the Model C Viewer and were made from 1946-1955.  But while the hand-helds view reels in stereoscope, this projector- using the same reels- projects in monoscope. The projector is cast metal and bakelite, and has a similar level mechanism to advance the reels as the hand-helds, and all reels made are compatible. The projector comes in its original box, which is in good vintage condition.

Along with this fantastic junior ‘toy’ [every child in the 50s wanted one!] come a great range of original 50s reels. The range from Australia themes [“5010 The Great Barrier Reef”, “5121 Adelaide & Vicinity”] to American themes [“291 California Wild Flowers”, “157 New York City”] and for some odd reason, a single Movie Star themed: “Gene Autry and his wonder horse Champion”. That’s a real corker!

The Junior Projector is for sale: $AU120. For a full list of the reels, please email : reretroblog.gmail.com

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50s botanica

Gambit ware 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. Each leaf shape has its name on the underside, should you fail to recognise these iconic shapes. 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 about half of my collection- at last count I had 20 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.

Boomerang dish

MCP boomerang dish
made in Sydney, Australia 1950s

MCP [Modern Ceramic Products] started production in the 1940s, in Redfern, Sydney. The simple geometric forms of their vases have a very modernist styling and each has a highly textured exterior finish which contrasts with the smooth internal glaze. The two-toned aesthetic meant each vase could be made in a wide range of iterations- albeit along the 50s spectrum of baby blue, pale pink, pale yellow and pastel green.

This is a boomerang dish, with the usual MCP textured green exterior and smooth pink interior. Like most 50s pottery, the fine edge between the two glazes is described in white. So elegant. The boomerang shape was a 50s staple: not only was it ‘Australian’ but it had the added benefit of being ‘unusual’; not a pure geometric shape like most round or square dishes.

The dish was used to serve sweets; but here I have loaded it with bakelite teaspoons from the same era. I like the colours; the spoons are Tilley bakelite, also made in Sydney. Tilley specialised in cutlery, especially picnicware [and I have collected quite a bit.]

The MCP boomerang dish is in excellent vintage condition, and is for sale: $AU45

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!!Cuban Fantasy!!

Midwinter Modern ‘Cuban Fantasy’ plate
made in England 1957

Cuban Fantasy! the name given to this fantastic 50s ‘atomic’ design plate says it all.

The plate was designed by Midwinter’s in-house designer, Jessie Tait [b. 1928]- who also designed ‘Cannes’, ‘Bali Hai’, ‘Tonga’ and ‘Patio Hollywood’. Clearly she had a taste for the exotic!

The divided plate has a “permanent underglaze colour, acid resistant, hand engraving” as it attests on the backstamp.  The Cuban Fantasy pattern also came in a vase, cup & saucer set, condiment jar, and a cake plate.

Midwinter pottery is having a renaissance at the moment – collectors are going mad for it. I’ve seen this plate on Ebay for $75. For you, dear reader, the plate [which is in excellent vintage condition] is :$AU55

I’ve teamed the Cuban Fantasy with a Debonair camera from the same period- as are the Observer books. The camera and books are available for sale also on the blog.

Linguaphone

Linguaphone Corso D’Italiano
made in England 1954

This fantastic vinyl case holds an Italian language course – with 50 ‘Lezione’ on 45 RPM records, and various student books – such as “Vocabularies and Text of Sound Record” and the like. The books are published by Linguaphone Institute Ltd, in London by The Woodbridge Press.

There’s a “Reading Book” in Italian, “Students Instructions”, and “Explanatory Notes”- all supporting the lessons on the records. The illustrations in the books are pure 50s- as are the pictures on the records [I confess that I bought this set on the drawings alone. And the vinyl case is totally funky.]

The case has never been opened [until now!]- the records are unused and the books unread. A 50s course in Italiano awaits you! Classic Italian sentences that will assist your next trip to Italy such as : “Do you have a light”? and “Have you seen Sophia Loren in ‘It Started in Naples’?”

The Linguaphone- unused, is in excellent vintage condition, and is for sale: $AU55

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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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