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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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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60s browny goodness

Graham Kerr lazy susan, Vogue plate, Mikasa jugGraham Kerr lazy susan, made in New Zealand, c.1960s
Vogue patterned melamine plate, made in Australia c.1960s
Mikasa jug, made in Japan, c.1960s

And now for something a little different- a collection of items connected by colour, and age.

You may remember the Galloping Gourmet, Graham Kerr? The original TV Masterchef. It not, then perhaps this quote from the introduction to one of his cookbooks from 1971 might jog your memory:

“To millions he was TV’s clumsily ingratiating Galloping Gourmet, a master of sauces and saucy innuendo…”

He seems to have also produced a line in timber veneer lazy susans, to which he added his name in fancy gold script. This lazy susan still works a treat- they made sturdy ball bearings in the 60s. It would be great to have it in the centre of one’s dining table, holding saucy-sauces for your dining companions’ pleasure!

The Vogue plate is a ‘squircle’- a round-edged square shape and it features a lovely abstract composition of cooking paraphernalia. And the lovely caramel/two-toned jug by Mikasa [“oven to table to dishwasher”, #c4800] completes the collection.

A lovely trio of browny-60s goodness. This set is for sale: $AUD65

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#70sstyle

Bessemer platter, made in Australia 1970s
Vogue jugs, made in Australia 1970s

I have posted 70s melamine ware previously- I am drawn to the colours and forms of these beautifully designed pieces.  I collect two Australian manufacturers- Bessemer and Vogue.

Bessemer products – made from melamine – were made by the Nylex Melmac Corporation which started production in the mid 60s. This beautiful platter [and the subject of previous posts, I have collected a lot of Bessemer!] was designed by Lionel Suttie, an industrial designer.

It’s interesting that Mr Suttie is remembered as Bessemer’s lead designer: this was the first time that tableware made from plastic [melamine] was thought to be worthy of design – with an illustrative art statement. The platter certainly pays homage to late mid-century modernist design in its colours and abstract forms.

Bessemer is now quite collectable: I have seen some incredible prices on items in ‘antique’ shops. I’m not sure I can come at the idea of retro collectables being antiques, but clearly others can. Bessemer rates a mention in Adrian Franklin’s Retro: A Guide to the mid-20th Century Design Revival [2011, NewSouth Publishing.]

While Bessemer led the way, employing an industrial designer to design tableware, Vogue followed suit. ‘Vogue Australia’ is imprinted on the bottom of these jugs; since the manufacturer name Vogue was also used in North America, at about the same time.

The platter and jugs can be used as intended- melamine is a strong plastic resistant to scratching and these pieces are ‘as new’ – or they can form part of a funky 70s display. 70s melamine is totally collectable.

The platter and jugs are for sale: $AU45
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70s goblets

Diana ‘Safari’ goblets
made in Australia 1970s

My regular readers know how much I love Diana pottery- made in a pottery near where I now live, in Marrickville, Sydney from 1940 to 1975. I especially love the 40s and 50s pottery…and until recently have not so much enjoyed the 70s [having actually lived through it in Australia– it was rough.]

BUT now I have a photographer son- who takes all my images- and he totally embraces the 70s. Where I see brutalist brutalism, he sees a weird, fresh take on colour and form.

I have not- I note- seen him embrace my love of the 40s and 50s. I have tried. Lord knows. Parental responsibility is taken seriously. But- no dice. Clearly, we can only embrace that which we have not personally lived through. Until… we see it through fresh eyes.

For Diana ‘Safari’ aficionados- I have other pieces available on the blog. And- the goblets are for sale: $AU25.  They are in great vintage condition.
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Hanstan coffee pot

Hanstan coffee pot & mugs
made in Australia, 1970s

Hanstan pottery was a collaboration between Hans Wright and Stan Burrage – hence Hanstan- that started in Victoria in 1962. The pottery continued to make domestic ware pottery well into the 1980s. Hanstan collectors will know that the pottery is always two-tone: either matt white and mission brown, or 70s orange and misson brown. The brown part of the pottery is rough glazed to contrast with the smooth slip glaze of the other colour.

The coffee pot, collectors will also know – is now quite rare and hard to find. I have had the mugs and the matching sugar bowl for some time, and the coffee pot, completing the set, has only just been found. All pieces are in excellent vintage condition; the coffee pot is completely unstained and looks like it’s never been used.

I also have examples of Hanstan white/brown pottery- spice jars and a salt pig – elsewhere on this blog.

The Hanstan coffee set is for sale: $AU125

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An ode to 70s design

Fred Press cheeseboard & Bessemer piecesFred Press, American artist
Lionel Suttie, Australian industrial designer

Fred Press was an American artist, and from 1950 to the 1980s was the chief designer of Rubel & Co on NY’s Fifth Avenue. He set out to revolutionise giftware, bringing his artistic sensibilities to domestic ware. Here we see a cheese/fruit board, in the shape of an apple, with one of his iconic drawings reproduced on the ceramic tile. The tile itself was made in Japan and is set in American teak, and it is signed Fred Press.

Lionel Suttie was an Australian industrial designer, bought in to Bessemer to revolutionise the design of utility ware– butter dishes, sugar bowls and table ware. This was the first time mass produced melamine products were thought worthy of design – or that they could make could make a design statement. In this image- a russet brown lidded condiment bowl, an avocado cup and saucer and a yellow sugar bowl.

Altogether a fine homage to the 70s -and- 70s designers.

This set is for sale: $AUD105

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40s Australiana

Diana vase
made in Australia 1940s

Diana made art pottery out of premises that operated in Marrickville, Sydney from 1940 to 1975. Unlike many other Sydney–based potteries of the time, Diana made only domestic and art pottery, rather than industrial items – capitalising on the huge demand for domestic wares with an ‘Australiana theme’.

This small vase is a double from my collection, so I am reluctantly parting with it. It was also manufactured in classic 50s colours [powder pink, baby blue] and also came in a lustreware glaze. This vase comes from the ‘Australiana’ collection; it is hand-painted in bushland colours; and it also came in a eucalyptus green colour. Because the vases are hand-painted there is quite a variation in the glazed colours: you can just see some green tones creeping into the bark-coloured brown tones.

The vase is in excellent vintage condition, and is for sale: $AU25

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70s fishy platter

Fish platter
made in Japan, 1970s

I don’t collect much from the 70s; – 40s to 60s are more my thang; but this fish platter caught my eye. It’s quite 60s in it’s modelling- but definitely 70s in it’s decoration. The recesses between the fins and the tail make a clever handle; and the arc of the handle is beautifully repeated in miniature to form a little fishy mouth. Superb styling!

I can’t find a makers mark- it just has a ‘made in Japan’ sticker on the back. I expect that these fish platters were exported all around the world in the 70s- everyone has fish, right? I’ve teamed the fish with some 70s Crystal Craft coasters…keeping with the 70s theme.

The fish platter is in excellent vintage condition, and is for sale: $AU35

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Carlton Ware ‘contemporary ware’

Carlton Ware leaf dishes and salt & pepper shakersCarlton Ware ‘Contemporary Ware’ dishes and salt and pepper shakers, made in England 1951-1961

Many people are familiar with the botanically-themed Carlton Ware ceramics [and having a background in horticulture, I am quite ‘familiar’ with them myself.]  Various daisy/foxglove/wild rose motifs were made in the 30s, 40s and continuing into the 50s, but in 1951 a modernist theme emerged.  These leaf-shaped dishes and cubic salt and pepper shakers are an example of this and were dubbed ‘contemporary’ ware.

The four monochrome dishes have a wonderful abstract leaf shape, and so appeal to me. I also like the austerity and the somewhat obtuse cube-shaped shakers. These pieces are now quite hard to come by, and are all in perfect condition.

For sale: $AUD150

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