Bessemer jugs

Bessemer jugs
made in Melbourne, c. 1970s

Bessemer products – made from melamine – were made by the Nylex Melmac Corporation which started production in the mid 60s. These beautiful jugs [and the subject of future posts, I have collected a lot of Bessemer!] were 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 condiment or tableware made from plastic [melamine] was thought to be worthy of design – that the humble mass-produced plastic jug or butter dish could make a design statement. These jugs certainly do that- they pay homage to mid-century modernist design and in the colouring, homage to the 70s.

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

For sale: $AUD60

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Bonzo trinket tin

Bonzo trinket tin, 1930sBonzo tin
made in England, 1930s

Bonzo the dog was the first cartoon character created in England, by George Studdy in 1922. Bonzo has been reproduced in a myriad ways since those early comic books- from figurines to kitchenalia and of course, in tin. You might be familiar with the very popular salt and pepper shakers, which have “I’m Salt” and “I’m Pepper’ emblazoned on two upright Bonzos. Bonzo paraphernalia has been in and out of fashion since the 20s – and I’m pleased to say he is coming back in again.

I have researched this Bonzo tin – it is unmarked- but have been unsuccessful in ascertaining the maker. I do know from other collectors that this is a Bonzo trinket tin [rather than, say, a sweets tin] made in the 30s.  It has a little wear to the hand-painted finish and some rust but is still air-tight for the keeping of trinkets.

I also have a Bonzo napkin ring [see post below.] So now I have two Bonzo pieces a fledgling Bonzo collection has started. Not that I need another collection – it’s just those kitschy large eyes on the very 20s-looking dog that gets me in.

The Bonzo tin is for sale: $AU75

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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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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 Diana

Diana coffee pot & vaseDiana coffee pot & vase
made in Sydney, Australia c.1950s

I have posted Diana pottery before…I am very partial to Diana as it was made in a pottery that operated in Marrickville, Sydney from 1940 to 1975- very close to where I now live. These two pieces are quintessentially 50s pieces – the vase has a lovely mottled grey outer colour and a beautiful yellow inner. The yellow is repeated in the coffee pot’s lid, the two-toned theme being popular in the 50s.

The shapes of the pieces are also very 50s- the funky asymmetric form of the vase and the tilted line of the coffee pot. You’ll notice that the vase still has its original Diana sticker – stickers tend to make a piece more valuable, and it’s in perfect condition. Likewise the coffee pot, which has never been used.

Regulars to my blog will know that I collect Diana- from the 40s in the colour marking of green and brown [this evidencing my nationalistic streak] and while I love these pieces, they are not part of my permanent collection.

For sale: $AUD125

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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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60s kitschiness [is my kinda kitschiness]

60s kitschinessMelbourne tray, made in Hong Kong, 1960s
Hornsea sugar bowl, made in England, 1960s
Diana ramekins, made in Australia, 1960s.

An ode to 60s kitschiness – a bar tray featuring the beautiful city of Melbourne in the 60s- terrible image, much touched-up and with an explanatory label; a green ‘Heirloom’ sugar bowl, stoneware designed and produced by John Clappison in 1966 for Hornsea; and a pair of Diana ramekins, made in Marrickville, Sydney in the late 60s.

A range of 60s aesthetics: the tacky, the patterned and the late-modernist. All now very desirable and collectable. People collect bar-themed paraphenalia [‘barphenalia’] – Hornsea is oh-so collectable now, and Diana pottery [and ramekins especially] is becoming very desirable.

All these items are in good vintage condition, and are for sale: Melbourne bar tray: $AU20, Hornsea Heirloom sugar bowl: $AU25, and the Diana ramekins: $AU20.

Coffee collection

Ceramic coffee canister
made in Japan, 1960s

Further to my life-long quest to collect every known coffee canister – here is one posing as a coffee house. I’ve styled it with a Nally plastic coffee canister – Australian – of the same vintage. It’s interesting [to me anyway] that coffee wasn’t a big deal in the 60s – so that the canisters were smaller usually than tea- the bigger sized canisters in nested sets always belonged to sugar, rice and flour. Nowadays- I expect- sugar would be the smallest canister and coffee the largest!

Anyhoo- I like the idea of putting all my various single origin and coffee blends in different, miss-matched vintage coffee canisters. So far, all canisters- both plastic and ceramic- are roughly the same size – and just so happen to fit a bag of 250g coffee. So maybe those 60s canister makers did know what they were doing!

The ceramic ‘coffee house’ canister is in excellent vintage condition, and is 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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Art Deco candle holder

Art Deco candle holderArt Deco candle holder
made in Australia c.1920s

Here we have a delightful candle holder made in the 1920s. It came from an Estate sale where I met and got chatting to the grand-daughter of the original owner. She knew the candle holder was from the 20s because her grandmother had talked with much affection about its purchase- and long use since then.

The candle holder is unmarked- not uncommon for pottery pieces produced just after the war- but the green glaze and the stylistic influences are classic Art Deco. As is the integral handle- made from the upsweep of the base- all very modern in the 20s and anticipating the modernism of the 50s.

I have teamed the candle holder with a pair of 20s cast iron kookaburras from my partner’s collection [you will recall she is exceptionally fond of kookaburras.] Although they are of the same era, the kookaburras look crude next to the sleek modernism of the candle holder.

The candle holder has some crazing to the glaze at the top [click on the image for a zoomed view]- but that is to be expected from something nearly 100 years old. Other than that it’s in good nick and is for sale : $AUD75

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