30s sugar canister

30s sugar canisterSugar canister
made in Australia, 1930s

A wonderful example of a depression era canister – this aluminium sugar canister evidences all the hallmarks of the 30s- drilled, green bakelite handles, mismatched green tones, applied ‘Sugar’ label, and graduated rings to the cream base.

Anodised aluminium was in its infancy- and achieving colour matching next to impossible. So each green lid was slightly different across the whole set of five canisters [and added to this of course, is colour fading over time.] Meanwhile bakelite technology was forty years old- you could get any colour you wanted there.

The size of this canister tells you something about the storage of sugar in the 40s. This canister was second in size only to the Flour canister. Everything else in the series was smaller: Suet, Rice, Tea and coming up last, Coffee. My how things have changed in the modern world! [Coffee should always be the largest!- and what the hell is suet?]

The canister has a few dings due to age, but the anodised aluminium base and lid are in good condition. The canister is for sale: $AUD45

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Bakelite amp meter [sold]

Bakelite amp meter,
Lamb sugar-figurine, made in Australia 1950s

I love bakelite, as you know, and I love scientific/measuring instruments. So this gauge [which measures amps, and still works] is totally up my alley. I am so pleased that the buyer is giving it to a artist who makes toys out of found objects. Imagine this as part of a toy, where the amp needle moves as the toy moves~ magic!

I have resisted collecting figurines, but you know- this sugar lamb – was kinda irresistible.  The ‘sugar’ refers to the rough clay texture which gives the figurine some semblance of realism, and unbeknownst to me, this is highly sought after. This lamb is going to a remote sheep station in Western Australia.

I shall endeavour to buy bakelite gauges and sugar figurines- it’s not just me but you!

Red bakelite s&p

Bakelite salt and pepper shakers
made by Marquis, Nally, Eon in Australia, c.1940s

I have previously posted bakelite salt and pepper shakers – twice- first in a grouping of green examples and then in a grouping of multi-coloured examples. Here we have a collection of red s&p. They were made to be included in the picnic basket- an everyday object made in a newly-developed plastic- that wouldn’t break in the great outdoors.

I am very fond of the ingenious design of the first two shakers – the top and bottom separate to reveal the two shakers; and you can see that the screw-on bases were often different coloured bakelite. These shakers were made by Marquis; and are impressed with ‘cat 729’.

The next pair of shakers were made by Nally: they are quite distinctive with black bakelite screw lids; and the last set of shakers- although not marked, are by Eon.

For bakelite collectors, and salt and pepper shaker collectors- you know who you are!

For sale: $AUD115

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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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Glass kitchen canisters

Glass kitchen canisters 1950sGlass kitchen canisters
made in Australia 1950s

Here is a selection of some of the glass kitchen canisters that I have collected for use in my kitchen: these are the ‘spares’. The thick, square glass canisters were originally filled with nuts or sugared almonds, and sold at Christmas time in the 50s and 60s. The plastic lids come in all manner of colours, and are still good and air-tight. So beautiful and functional!

I like that you can see how much sugar/flour/tea is left in the glass canisters, and now I associate red with ‘lentils’, blue with ‘couscous’, and green with ‘green tea’. This colour coding is a great idea!

I also have a selection of glass canisters with black bakelite lids- these only seemed to come in black- and they date earlier, probably the 40s.

The canisters are for sale: $AU20 [coloured plastic lids] and $AU30 [black bakelite lids.]

Happy New Year!

30s bakelite telephoneHappy New Year!

As we say goodbye to 2016 and welcome in 2017, a sneak peek into my personal collection. Or- the bit of my personal collection I am keeping.

I became interested in resin, and experimented with making jewellery and door pulls. This in turn led me to research and learn about plastics- and during this research I became interested in bakelite. You know the rest of the story: I now collect bakelite.

This is an old bakelite phone from the 30s- made in Australia- bought recently. It needs restoration, and I have Greygate No.5 Polishing Paste on hand to do it. This polishing paste was developed to restore bakelite on phones for the GPO in the 50s – and it’s still made today. Bakelite itself is still in production- in the manufacture of light switches and electrical components, so the restoring paste is also still made.

The phone can also be restored electronically – if one wished to use it as a landline. And- it has a little drawer for phone numbers in the front – a wonderful design, if somewhat whimsical.

Happy New Year to all re:retro readers & followers! And here’s to much retro in the future!

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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sUNBEAM bEATER mIX

Sunbeam Beater Mix, new in box, 1972Sunbeam Beater Mix
made in Australia 1972

How often have I used a Sunbeam Beater Mix to make pavlova? A million times. How often have I used it to make anything else? Not so much.

So – when I came across this beauty- new in box, I had to have it. It’s been checked by an electrician and it is oked for pavlova making.

It’s a fabulous 70s yellow colour, on black bakelite. Oh so 70s. The blurb on the box describes it thus: “portable, lightweight, with three powerful speeds- and – ejectable beaters!’ Really- you had me at ‘ejectable beaters’!

So- for all your pavlova / other beating needs [remind me again – what they might be?] the Sunbeam Beater Mix is for sale: $AU75

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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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Industrial cred #70s style

Peak Voltmeter [1971]Peak Voltmeter
made in Japan, 1971

A birthday gift, because my family know I love old instruments, bakelite knobs and original leather cases. Oh JOY! This Voltmeter has it all. It even has its original leads for – you know- voltage testing. I’ll be doing some fine voltage testing, let me tell you.

Old scientific instruments were not designed to be beautiful- just functional. But somehow the very precision with which they were made lends them a wonderful beauty. This piece adds serious industrial cred to my entrance hall. I notice that children when they visit are drawn to it – to play with the knobs [as I do myself. Seriously good fun.]

The Voltmeter is not for sale: I include it here to encourage the collection of these fabulous old instruments – now getting harder to find, they are becoming collectable due to rarity.