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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Penny Inkwells

Penny inkwells,
made in Victoria, Australia 1880-1910

This is a collection of ‘penny’ inkwells; they are ceramic and so-called because they were cheaply made bottles that cost a penny to buy. They were crudely made and one of the first ‘disposables’- they were simply thrown out when they were empty. So this little collection is quite rare: most penny inkwells that survived the nineteenth century are chipped or broken.

The ceramic is stoneware with a salt glaze. Each inkwell is a different colour, depending on the mix of the original clay colour and the finished glaze: they range from a light tan to a deep russet brown. No two the same!

Most penny inkwells were used by school children; but would occasionally also be bought to be used in homes. There are many websites devoted to the collection of inkwells, and Ebay has a section for ‘collectable inkwells and ink pots’. Single penny inkwells in good condition are selling for around $45.

The collection of 8 penny inkwells is in excellent vintage condition, and is for sale: POA

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Elischer pottery

Elischer ramekins & vaseElischer ramekins & vase
made in Melbourne, Australia 1950s

Most of my collection comes from Sydney potteries – but Elischer is a Melbourne pottery which commenced in the late 30s and continued until the late 80s. Elischer was a Viennese sculptor who turned to pottery when he immigrated to Melbourne. These pieces; three ramekins and a small vase, are in the typical 50s colourway of black, tan and cream but employ atypical organic, asymmetrical forms.

I have one other Elischer pottery piece in the collection – very different to these pieces- a Four Seasons Whiskey jug. By the 60s Elischer was making commercial bar ware and had moved away from the more experimental pottery seen here.

None of these pieces is signed – I have deduced from research and the matching colourway/asymmetric forms that all these pieces are Elischer. They are for sale: $AUD80

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Shoe fetish

Pates clogs
made in Sydney, Australia 1950s

Yet more of drip-glazed Pates Pottery. This incantation is the clog- that beloved symbol of the 50s when cultural differences were represented by national costume. [Mexicans wear sombreros! Japanese wear kimonos! Those crazy Dutch wear clogs!] The clog also represented the allure of international travel- which from Australia in the 50s was no mean feat- it meant six weeks on a boat to anywhere. No respectable knick-knack shelf of the modernist house would be without one!

Like the Pates pieces posted below, the colour tones here are pinks and greens, with crimson. Each one hand glazed- each one different. Other tones I have come across are yellow/brown, and brown/green [these came later in the 60s.] The production of the iconic clog went on until the early 70s.

This set of six clogs is for sale: $AUD115

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Vintage pudding bowls

Fowler Ware pudding bowls,
made in Sydney, Australia 1940s

Fowler Ware pudding bowls are now quite collectable: and this crimson colour is the most sought colour. Vintage pudding bowls do double duty in the kitchen: they make excellent puddings- and when not being pressed into pudding work, they make great fruit bowls.

The monochrome shade of the pudding bowl looks great in a contemporary kitchen. The bowls originally came in a set of five –nested- bowls in the very 50s colours of grey, yellow, baby blue, green and crimson. I recently found a complete set of nested bowls – which is now unfortunately very rare.

These two bowls are from different sets- you can see this is the subtle differences in the rim patterning. However, they are the same fantastic crimson- and would look great holding apples or lemons- or – in the making of puddings!

The pudding bowls are for sale: $AU60/pair
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70s brutalism

Diana salt & pepper shakers
made in Australia, 1970s

Further to the Diana pottery from the 40s and 50s recently discussed- meet some Diana from the 70s! This range is called ‘Safari’.

Earthen tones [tick] brutalist, oversize shape [tick] chunky form devoid of decoration [tick.] This is the 70s alright!

I have also collected the teapot, and creamer in Safari: but like a lot of 70s ware, I find less is less. It is possible to have too much of a good thing. However- if you are a big fan of the 70s [ie: you didn’t actually have to live through that time] you may like to consider the teapot and creamer.

The brutalist salt and pepper shakers are for sale: $AU25

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Wall pocket vases #50sstyle

Diana wall pocket vases
made in Sydney, Australia 1950s

I have posted much about Diana, a Marrickville [Sydney] pottery that produced from 1940 to 1975. I live very close to Marrickville, so became fascinated with this pottery and um…collected…a…bit…of it….. ..  .. . .

By the late 50s Diana was experimenting with ‘Australian’ colours [read: bush colours] and moving away from the classic 50s pastels of powder blue, baby pink, soft yellow, etc. These wall pocket vases were also made in those colours, but now they were being hand-coloured with the greens and browns of the eucalypt bushland.

The hand-applied glaze meant that no two vases were the same- and the new colours were enthusiastically taken up by a community eager to embrace new concepts of nationalism. Every vase shape and form was re-created using the new colourway; so you have art deco inspired shapes – to more modernist, assymetrical shapes- but now having the new nationalist colours.

These three wall pockets are part of my own collection- but alas- I do not have the wall space to do them justice and they have been boxed up for a decade. It’s now time they went to someone’s wall – to display eucalyptus sprays – of course!

The three Diana wall pockets are for sale: $AU225

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Bakewells blue & white striped

Bakewells jug & pudding bowl
made in Sydney, Australia 1930s

Bakewells started production in Sydney in 1884 and like so many potteries, moved from making bricks and pipes to domestic wares in the early part of the twentieth century. By the 1920s, they were manufacturing vases [‘exclusive ware’] and domestic ware [jugs, pudding bowls, coffee pots and ceramic canisters.]

Here we have a blue and white striped jug and pudding bowl from the 30s; the blue and white colours were used to resemble English Cornish Ware and were the premium pieces produced in the 20s and 30s. Every day pieces- were termed ‘Cream Ware’ while the blue and white pieces have the MADE BY BAKEWELLS, SYDNEY N.S.W. backstamp.

Being handmade in the 30s, the colour of the glaze and the clay used varied, so each piece is slightly different.  Three different sized jugs were made, and six different sized bowls; with the largest bowl having a pouring lip. This meant that pudding bowls could also be used as mixing bowls, and vice versa.

This set of jug and bowl are for sale: $AU105
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40s ‘Utility’ jug [sold]

Fowler Ware ‘Utility’ jug
made in Australia 1940s

I’ve featured a lot of Fowler Ware pudding bowls and jugs on this blog: the 40s colours and shapes are so fabulous. This jug is stoneware, and from the Fowler Ware ‘Utility’ range – perhaps off-white wasn’t as glamorous as the coloured pieces -and could be used every day.

Whatever, the beauty of the off-white stoneware is that any fruit/food/kitchen implement stored in them looks fantastic. Collecting in a single colour is quite dramatic, and these pieces look fantastic in a white or neutral-toned contemporary 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.

And the beauty of the jug- it doubles as a vase! Win-win-win!

I have matching Utility stoneware pudding bowls for sale elsewhere on the blog. Start collecting today!

The Utility jug is back stamped, and in excellent vintage condition-for sale: $AU35

70s Golden Glory

Johnson ‘Golden Glory’ teacups
made in Australia 1976

The back stamp of these 70s tea cups is Johnson OF Australia – [reminds me of Lawrence OF Arabia!] Johnson Bros [Australia] produced transfer printed stoneware crockery marketed as “tough, utilitarian ware” – which is why these teacups are looking so fresh and unblemished today. Also- never been out of the box.

Johnson Bros [Australia] was a division of Johnson Brothers England- at the time one of the largest domestic pottery producers in the world. This design is ‘Golden Glory’- which, double entendre aside, is a selection of lovely golden Australian flowers. This pattern was collected and added to the Powerhouse collection by a Melbourne artist -John Hind.

I have recently started to embrace the 70s – and Australiana from the 70s; and now I have an Instagram account, I have been seeing much 70s Australiana – and Johnsons ceramics are much celebrated. There is one fantastic site where Johnson pieces are cut and sanded to make upcycled jewellery: rings and necklaces. It’s a lovely celebration of 70s iconography and the ‘tough, utilitarian ware’ that the Johnson Bros never imagined.

This boxed set of four teacups and saucers is for sale: $AU45 Buy now for Christmas!

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