Peony 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.
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
Bambi 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
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.
Aboriginal motif placemats
made in Australia c. 1940s
Did I mention I like kitsch? These bookends are so of their time: the kangaroos are pewter, and have adopted that typical Skippy looking-over-the-shoulder stance. They stand on traditional Mulga wood- which has been cut and arranged to show off its famous bi-colouring. Mulga wood was used in 1940s souvenir works like these as it is a hardwood –unusual in a native from the wattle family – and was considered ‘export quality’. A transfer sticker on the base of the bookends, in the shape of Australia, proudly proclaims “Genuine Australian Mulga” in case one confuses it for fake Mulga, or worse still, a non-Australian Mulga.
The woven placemats are also genuine…a proud Aboriginal spear and shield-holder walks in front of a map of Australia- in case you mistake him for a proud Aboriginal spear and shield-holder from say, America. There are four placemats in the set…and the motif is arranged on the left side of the mat, so that plates, cutlery etc won’t obscure the motif.
My collection contains a fair few Aboriginal motifs…once considered to be in very poor taste, they are now old and retro enough to be embraced by hipsters who didn’t encounter them the first time round.