Australia in the #40s and #50s

Australian Souvenirware,
made in Czechoslovakia, England, Australia 1940-50s

A selection of hand-coloured, photographic transfer prints of various Australian cities and landmarks made in the 40s and 50s. What a great wall feature they’d make!

Featured herein are beaches, streets, bridge and bridge approaches and traffic bridges, parks, clocks, landmarks, harbours, town halls, parliament houses and rivers [and I quote] :

  • Harbour Beach, Manly
  • Prince Street, Grafton
  • Belmont, Lake Macquarie
  • Bridge Approach, Shoalhaven River from Showground, Nowra
  • Bridge, Shoalhaven River, Nowra
  • Traffic Bridge, Macksville
  • Machattie Park, Bathurst
  • Dr Evershed Memorial Clock, Bega NSW
  • Bottle Rock, Coonabarabran
  • Ulladulla Harbour, NSW
  • Town Hall, Rockhampton QLD
  • Perth, WA
  • Parliament House, Canberra
  • Murray River, Corowa.

Makers are all noted on the backstamps: Victoria, IBC, Royal Grafton Bone China, Royal Stafford Bone China, Westminster China [the last, weirdly from Australia.]

All fifteen plates are in great vintage condition and provide a snapshot of important landmarks in Australia, as judged by tourists in the 40s and 50s. Or – as I mentioned – massed together they would make a fantastic wall feature.

The souvenirware plates are for sale: $AU120

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Aboriginal motif kitsch

50s Aboriginal motif s&p, jugAboriginal motif salt & pepper shaker sets, and small jug
made in Australia c.1950s

While none of these items has a maker’s mark, the salt and pepper shakers at the back are possibly by Terra Ceramics, and the round shakers to the left are possibly Florenz Pottery. The small jug is probably Studio Anna. All these potteries were making tourist and souvenir pottery by the 1950s, and these 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; invariably Aboriginal motif works were black, tan and white.

This group works well as a set, or could form the basis of a larger collection. The items on their own are very kitsch…but somehow when grouped the kitschness is subverted into a subtler aesthetic.

This set is for sale: $AU125

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Kitschy cats [sold]

Kitschy cat salt & pepper shakersKitschy cat salt and pepper shakers
made in Japan 1960s

Cats rule the internet [have you seen ‘Cats of Instagram’?] and what better than kitschy cats? These Siamese cat salt and pepper shakers have it all : kitsch, 60s styling, made in Japan- and did I mention?     Cats.

The cats’ faces presage anime- large heads, disproportionately large eyes [with eyelashes no less, whiskers don’t seem to exist] and they are both in ‘movement’ stances – these guys aren’t static animals- they are full of life. And the final coup de grace – the pair of figurines are in different poses.

The kitschy cats are for sale: $AUD25

50s kitsch

Vinyl Clad rafia basketVinyl Clad raffia basket,
made in Australia 1950s

Not quite sure how to describe this fantastically kitsch offering from the 50s: it is impressed ‘Vinyl Clad Australia’ – but I can’t find anything about Vinyl Clad. Although- what a fantastic name! Apparently this is Registered Design No. 66233 [also inscribed on the base] – C1-4L-SR4TS B2. Lots of information – not so much recorded on the old internet.

The raffia and lovely plastic flower centrepiece have been hand-stitched to the basket. The arrangement, proportions, elements and colours are all thoughtful designed – in that wonderful, OTT kitschy-50s way. I love it. And I love the way my partner describes it as two ice cream containers stitched together [no evidence of this, either, by the way.]

The basket was given to me by a friend who knows how I embrace kitsch. And now I offer it to you, my dear kitschy reader; it’s for sale: $AUD35. If you love it too, I’ll throw in the mismatched anodised aluminium beakers.

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60s browns

60s brown collectionHollywood platter, made in USA 1960s
Scheurich jug, made in West Germany 1960s
Teak man corkscrew & bottle opener, made in Japan 1960s

A trio of browns a la 1960s.

The Hollywood platter, melamine made features roosters and various farm equipment [I think that thing’s a butter churner…?] and the West German jug/vase made by Scheurich came in many combinations of browns, browns and browns. The teak man with rope arms graced many a 60s bar; his head comes off to reveal a bottle opener, and he is sitting on a log which is actually a corkscrew. Quite a painful allusion if you think about it. But the playful teak cigarette hanging out of his mouth makes it all so jolly one doesn’t think about the placement of the corkscrew.

This brown lot is a collection in search of a party; a 60s party. Celebrating all things kitsch and brown.

The browns are for sale: $AUD90

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50s donkeys

Retro donkey salt & pepper shakersDonkey salt and pepper shakers
made in Japan c.1950s

What was it about donkeys, sombreros, and cactuses that made them so exotic in the 50s? So overused and clichéd then – so kitschy now. I like that this salt and pepper set has donkeys in different poses, and with those huge eyes- they anticipate anime.

In the 50s the world was opened up to middle class travel. No longer the preserve of the rich, middle class Australians travelled to all corners [a terrible/inaccurate expression] of the globe. Since Australia was 20 hours travel away from ANYWHERE – you might as well travel 50 hours and see South America. And having spent every last penny getting there, I suppose there wasn’t much money left for travel souvenirs.

Google donkey salt and pepper shakers- and wow! ~ what a selection. No cliché left unturned. But yesteryear’s cliché is my kind of kitsch. And these donkeys are in perfect condition, stamped ‘Japan’ on the base. Part of the 50s export market for Australian travelers to South America made in Japan. Truly international!

The donkey s & p shakers are for sale: $AUD35

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Peony Ware

Peony Ware double-sided dishPeony Ware double handled dish
made in Japan c.1950s

Avid readers of this blog will know that due to my [real] life as a landscape architect, I am a sucker for all things botanical. Especially 50s kitschy botanical. This Peony Ware plate- featuring- Peonies….ticks all the boxes.

Peony Ware started manufacturing slip-cast raised ‘peony’ jugs, plates, tea cups and vases in the 50s as a response to the popularity of Carlton Ware. The quality of the peonies isn’t that of Carlton Ware- although it is hand-painted and the peonies are raised -it was sold as a sort of cheaper version; and only featured peonies. Carlton Ware in the 50s was producing Fox Glove, Wild Rose, Buttercup, Apple Blossom….while Peony Ware pumped out the peonies in every conceivable colour.

This is a double-sided, handled dish- with the peony in a modest cream colour- in excellent condition. It is stamped ‘Peony Ware, made in Japan’ on the underside. I’ve teamed it with a 50s figurine of a dog in a jumpsuit- the colourings and the size of the figurine seem to work well.

The peony dish is for sale: $AUD55

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Diana ‘prawn’ pottery [sold]

Diana 'prawn' potteryDiana prawn pottery
made in Sydney, 1956-1964

I have shared my fascination with Diana Pottery many times on this blog- and having just sold some iconic Flannel Flower pieces, thought I’d post this rather more kitschy ‘prawn’ collection.

Picture this: it’s the mid 50s in Australia. Nationalism and modernism are joining forces in artistic expressionism and so Diana comes up with : prawns. Prawns as an emblem of a new national dish. Prawns because we have whopper sizes in Australia. Prawns, because they are easily rendered in clay and are a simple, easily recognised form…and prawns because- well every other national dish was already taken.

We see here a large platter with fluting and capacity for two different dipping sauces in the middle; a sauce boat and saucer [presumably for tartare sauce] and a side plate- all with painted red prawns as handles, and the same fluting. Accompanying these are two ramekins and a sauce boat – with handles in the form of prawns, but unpainted.

There is much conjecture in the world of Diana collectors as to whether the absence of colour/paint/glaze on these matt white pieces is intentional, or whether they were merely unfinished. There are many pieces that have the same moulding or casting of figurative elements as pieces that were hand-painted but were sold unpainted- vases, plates, ramekins, the lot. My own feeling [and completely unsubstantiated opinion] is that the unpainted pieces were entirely intentional…one could mix and match with the painted pieces and not be quite so overwhelmed with bright red prawns. And I say this as a person dedicated and entirely wedded to kitsch. Even I have limits.

This collection comprises six pieces which are all in good condition -and is for sale: $AUD175

Bambis for the retro nursery [sold]

bambi bookends and nightlightBambi bookends, made in Japan 1958
Bambi nursery night-light, made in Melbourne, Australia c.1959

I thought after my last kitsch post, you might be ready for some more Bambis…

The ceramic bookends were made for the 50s souvenir trade in Japan…originally they would have had a sticker placed on the horizontal front section: “Greetings from Alaska” [where deer are known to frequent] or “Greetings from Honolulu” [you get the picture.]

Unfortunately the deer on the left has had an ear repaired; it’s the one facing away from the viewer so you only see it if you look from behind. The mend is sympathetic to the ceramic, a hairline fracture, but it is a repair none-the-less and that is reflected in the sale price.

The night-light is in excellent working order, and has been checked by an electrician. It was made by Pan Pacific Plastics in Melbourne, and uses a 15 watt lamp and AC/DC power. Who doesn’t want a Bambi night-light in their nursery? Nine out of 10 babies give it a thumbs up!      For sale: $AUD75

Kitsch vases [sold]

50s kitsch vasesKitsch vases
c.1950s

These vases are ‘extreme’ kitsch. It’s entirely possible I am the only person in the world who likes them. Certainly their manufacturer was reticent to put their name to the vases…they are all unmarked.

The vases look even better when bright, garish flowers are added…the weird juxtaposition of a rearing horse holding flower stems in its front legs is hilarious. That’s why I like kitsch…it’s often –unwittingly- very funny.

For all your kitsch needs….For sale: $AUD75