Johnson OF Australia dinner plates
made in Queensland, Australia 1975
The back stamp of these 70s plates 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 plates are looking so fresh and unblemished today.
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 wasn’t given a name or a pattern number, but the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney has a record of the design: it is described as a “complex radial design with central sunflower”. The plate 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 Johnson’s plates 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.
50s coloured plates
made in Australia by Johnson, Sovereign Pottery and others &
made in England by Roydon, Polo and others
Following on from my last post, here is a mish-mash of lovely 50s plates, collected from all over the place. There are eight large and eight side plates, in baby blues, pastel yellows, baby pink, pastel green…all made from different manufacturers.
Ever since student days, when having miss-matched crockery and furniture was all one could aspire to, I have enjoyed one-offs and still recoil from matchy-matchy things. My partner and I spent about a decade or so trying to buy a new crockery set once…in the end we found the only manufacturer in the world that produced single pieces in vibrant colours- a kind of contemporary harlequin set. It makes perfect sense- if you break something the whole set isn’t ruined…you simply replace the piece in the appropriate colour.
And the only drawback to this lovely set it- it’s not dishwasher proof. You have to don a 50s apron, and wash it the old fashioned way [ie: get your partner to do it!]