40s souvenir ware [sold]

Clock and barometer souvenir
made in Australia 1940s

I’ve featured quite a bit of Mulga wood on this blog: . and a fair bit of kitsch. Often Mulga wood and kitsch go hand-in–hand, as is the case here. Mulga wood was used in 1940s souvenir works as it is a hardwood –unusual in a native from the wattle family – and was considered ‘export quality’. The timber is cut and arranged to show off its famous bi-colouring, as is the Australia-shaped base of this 40s souvenir.

The clock- with alarm and glow-in-the-dark numbers and hands, is paired with a barometer [working; naturally it’s in Fahrenheit] and a gilt koala. The wind-up clock is functional- but I can’t attest to its accuracy. But a barometer and a clock and a gilt koala all on an Australia-shaped Mulga wood base? Doesn’t get much better!

I’ve teamed the souvenir with a Bushell’s tea jar from the same era. The rusted lid adds another brown tone, and the glass picks up the glass on the clock and barometer.

The Mulga wood souvenir is for sale: $AU45

40s bookends

Mulga wood bookends, 1940sMulga wood book ends
made in Australia, 1940s

These 40s bookends are made from Mulga wood- which has been cut to show off its famous bi-colouring, and still has the bark of the tree intact. 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’. The wood is heavy and dense and so- makes for fantastic book ends.

With the bookends are part of our Observer book collection. These little ‘field’ books run from 1 through 100; 1 is British Birds and 100 is Wayside and Woodland. Some collectors collect only 1-79 [the purists] ; or collect every edition of one of the series. I like the idea of 100 coloured spines lined up- and we have around 30 or so still to collect. One can buy them from specialist booksellers, natch- but I like to discover them in second hand bookshops across the world [we found one in Berlin whilst there.]

So – the bookends are in perfect condition. For collectors of Australiana, Australian timber, or those who just need a decent pair of 40s bookends- here they are. I also have a marvellous pair of bookends with Mulga wood & pewter kangaroos [see previous post.]

The bookends are for sale: $AU40

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50s Australian souvenirware

50s souvenirwareAboriginal motif souvenirware,
made in Australia 1950s

Post war arts and crafts saw a rise in the popularity of ‘Australiana’ – replacing traditional English motifs with Australian themes; invariably Aboriginal motifs. In the 1950s these appropriated [and westernised] indigenous motifs were hugely popular as souvenirware.

The beaten copper image of an Aboriginal tribesman here is laid on an indigenous timber – with a handy thermometer [still working, btw] what’s not to love?  The timber is Mulga wood – much collected and much documented on this blog. This is hugely collectible.

The Aboriginal motif sourvenirware is for sale: $AUD45

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Kookaburra perpetual calendar

Kookaburra perpetual calendarKookaburra perpetual calendar,
made in Australia 1940s

This pewter kookaburra sits on a boomerang-shaped timber base: the timber is 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, 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.

Kookaburras are very collectible right now: and I have a great fondness for a perpetual calendar. The daily ritual of changing the date as one sits down to work in a mostly digital world is very pleasant. You’ll notice if you look closely at the image that the calendar pieces were made by The Daily Set, printed in England. This is the only part of the item that was imported; seems Australia couldn’t print calendar pieces in the 40s.

The perpetual calendar is not for sale as it makes up part of Trish’s burgeoning kookaburra collection. I have tried to claim is as part of my burgeoning Mulga wood collection – but nothing doing!

Kangaroo lighter

Mulga wood napkin rings & kangaroo lighterMulga wood napkin rings and
Kangaroo lighter, made in Australia 1950s

Mulga wood was used in the 40s and 50s for souvenir works like these napkin rings and lighter as it is a hardwood –unusual in a native from the wattle family – and was considered ‘export quality’. The mulga wood has been cut and polished to show off its famous bi-colouring.

A transfer sticker on the base of the napkin rings, 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.

I do love the kangaroo lighter- it is probably handmade, as it has a wonderful naive charm. The whole lighter comes out from the kangaroos back in order that fuel be added; the wick is intact and the lighter looks never to have been used. Keen-eyed readers will wonder- as I did- whether it is such a great idea making a lighter out such a traditionally flammable material.

There is a world of lighter collectors out there – if they collect napkin rings made in rustic-style timber – then this collection is for them. It is for sale: $AUD125

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Perpetual calendar

Mulga wood perpetual calendar, 1950sPerpetual calendar
made in Australia, 1950s

I love these old perpetual calendars- so kitschy and SO different to the orderliness of the digital calendars we are forced to view every day.

This ‘Souvenir of Adelaide’ is made from Mulga Wood – – which has been cut and arranged to show off the timber and bark of the tree. Mulga wood was used in 1940-50s souvenir works like these as it is a hardwood –unusual in a native from the wattle family – and was considered ‘export quality’. The kitschy koala transfer print just adds to the hokey, kitschy quality. The whole ensemble has a little brass stand at the back to keep it upright, and a little brass pocket on the front for one to arrange the date. Alas, as everyone knows with perpetual calendars, one keeps forgetting to actually change the date and the digital calendar starts to seem not so boring after all.

The perpetual calendar is for sale: $AUD55

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40s kitsch

Kangaroo bookends
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.

For sale: $AUD65

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