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!
Elischer 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
Carlton Ware whiskey jug, made in England 1962
London souvenir plate, made in England 1960s
This scotch whiskey water jug is both practical and collectible. It’s an ‘advertisement’ jug; mass produced and given away to pubs –not sold to the public- with the idea that the public would be so impressed by the glamour of having water added to their drink by a ‘branded jug’ that they would continue to order their brandy/whisky by name. Ah! the 60s, when advertising and impressing people was so easy!
The jug- being made by Carlton Ware- has a beautiful integral handle [not quite seen in image] and fantastic 60s square-shaped styling. It is very modern in form – and in fantastic condition. Whiskey jugs are uber collectible and they make a fantastic addition to a retro bar [and can double as a vase at short notice.]
The London dish- having been made as a souvenir piece in the 60- is plastic, hand-painted, and features that seminal 60s landmark – the GPO tower. Dwarfing those has-been landmarks Trafalgar Square, Tower Bridge, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace- the GPO is shown out loud and proud! That’s how landmarks were designed in the 60s!
The whiskey jug & London dish are for sale: $AUD65
Upcycled 50s garden table
made- and upcycled- in Sydney Australia; 1950s & 2015
Another fine example of Trish’s upcycled 50s garden tables. Don’t you just love the butterfly magazine rack and the new black glass top?
Trish stripped the rust/imperfections from the steel frame, painted it with anti-rust and then three coats of matt black enamel paint. The glass is made to measure- and who knew that black glass is three times the price of any other coloured glass? Still- it looks fantastic; it has beveled edges and it’s safety-glass. New rubber feet complete the table.
This table is not for sale: it’s a keeper. It’s just the size for an inner-city terrace- and as it’s weatherproofed it has the added advantage that it can be used indoors or outdoors. I’ve teamed the table with an old industrial flask and eucalyptus leaves and a 50s school map.
Upcycled 50s garden tables
originally made and then upcycled in Australia
This is Trish’s new interest- restoring 50s and 60s garden furniture. These steel-framed tables – built robustly to take outdoor weather conditions- are the perfect size for interior spaces in contemporary homes. This pair of would make fantastic side or coffee tables.
50s garden furniture typically combined the restrained modernism and perfunctory design of metal work- with a jaunty curlicue or two- to signify the outdoor environment. The lower grill is great for coffee books or magazines – I’m not sure what the original purpose would have been- garden hose storage?
The tables have had the original paint finish removed, anti-rust and two new coats of matt black enamel paint applied; and given a new glass top [safety glass with bevelled edges.] New rubber feet complete the transformation.
I think they are terrific- the dimensions are perfect for an apartment or inner-city house.
A lovely ensemble of retro things united by colour but not by age. The large glass plate- black with gilt roses is 50s, the kitschy banana vase [Grafton= a lovely country town well known for its Jacaranda trees rather than bananas] is 60s and the xylonite box [xylonite is an early plastic made to mimic ivory] is somewhat yellowed and hails from the 20s.
All made in Australia and all having different provenance; I collected the items one by one. All fine examples of their type: glass, ceramic [kitsch] and xylonite. The xylonite box is somewhat distressed, but has working hinges and the box lid still fits well- the celluloid flower on its lid is unusual and that will be attractive to xylonite collectors.
Dymo label maker, # 1700, made in USA c.1969 Teledex index, made in Melbourne, Australia c.1960s
I am somewhat partial to Dymo labelers – and Teledex phone indexes. Call me old-fashioned but I do like physical buttons and physical output- very novel in the digital world we now inhabit.
The Teledex is black bakelite, and comes complete with ‘unused’ pale blue file inserts [new in packet.] So 60s! No retro office is complete without one [just think Mad Men; Don Draper had one on his desk last season.] Sure, everyone keeps telephone numbers on their mobile phones nowadays…but how much fun is it to zip that little knob up and down and push the button to spring open the index? I could do it all day.
The Dymo 1700 is an earlier version of the Dymo 1780 [featured last post]- its tape comes in little cartridges which are pushed into the barrel of the thing. This one comes with several original tapes- and I am reliably informed that the cartridge tapes are still available to buy.
Studio Anna pin dish, made in Sydney Australia c.1956 Martin Boyd jug, made in Sydney Australia c. 1954
I have posted quite a few Studio Anna and Martin Boyd pottery pieces on this blog- both very influential and now highly collectible potteries. Both potteries were pumping out souvenirware in the 50s- and this pin dish and jug are typical pieces of the time.
Warilla is a seaside suburb of Wollongong- famous for its- you guessed it – prawning. Studio Anna produced thousands of pin dishes in the 50s- for hundreds of coastal towns- so it was simply a matter of changing the town name. Meanwhile Martin Boyd pottery was pumping out stylized aboriginal motif pieces for the tourist trade.
Together these pieces made a nice vignette- but collectors- they are for sale: $AUD80
Florenz mug, made in Sydney Australia, c.1955 Florenz vase, made in Sydney Australia, c.1956
Two Florenz slip cast pottery pieces- both with unmistakably kitsch aboriginal motifs. This was Australia in the 50s when 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.
I have featured Florenz on this blog before- salt and pepper shakers, jugs, ashtrays- all with these stylised indigenous motifs- the items were for the modern new kitchen but also sold as touristware.
Pottery decorated with Aboriginal designs is becoming increasingly collectible. The mug comes complete with its original foil sticker- noting that it is hand painted; and the vase is incised with a hand written ‘Florenz’ on the underside; it too is hand painted.
Florenz pottery at its best: these pieces are for sale: $AUD90
Pyrex coffee serving flask, made in Britain c. 1960s Smiths Ringer kitchen timber, made in Britain c.1960s
Pyrex made coffee percolators- and as see here- coffee serving flasks in Britain, America and Australia in the 60s. Every household had a percolator- which were quite functional in form and styling- and it was only the fancy-pants households that had the more decorative serving flask.
This serving flask is such a product of the 60s- the handle and knob and bakelite, the large chrome band is off-set by the fake timber laminate on the lid. The glass is decorated with a subtle white abstract design: this is a flask that is straddling early and later mid-century modern design ideals.
The kitchen timer [a Smiths Ringer, British made 1960s] is also made of bakelite. This ringer is all precise functionality- two toned- and the bell still works a treat [have not tested it for timing accuracy- may be slightly less than accurate since it’s over fifty years old.] I have featured Smiths Ringers on the blog before- I am somewhat partial to them.
For the retro kitchen- the Pyrex serving flask and kitchen timer are for sale: $AUD75