Waratah jug by Ridgway Pottery
made in Staffordshire, England 1952
Ridgeway turned out thousands of these jugs in the 50s – with different flora, fauna and hunting scenes they were sent to every corner of the Commonwealth. There the transfer prints were hand-coloured in a local pottery, re-fired and put on sale.
This floral jug purports to be a Waratah [it’s signed as such on the imprint mark]: but as a landscape architect and amateur botanist- I take issue with the likeness. Yes, I know- botanical accuracy on a mass-produced jug is asking a bit much, but the leaves are all wrong and the flower head is so stylised as to resemble a rose; much less a Waratah.
Having complained said that- I also have a soft-spot for kitschy, 50s abstractness- this jug is from a centuries old Staffordshire pottery; and our own artists in Australia were only just starting to embrace the unique flora in their art in the 50s.
Ridgway closed the pottery factory 1952 so this Waratah jug was one of the last things made. Having started in 1792, Ridgway was a “manufacturer of printed ware of all descriptions…” so clearly printed earthenware pottery was produced for a good one hundred and sixty years.
The ‘Waratah’ jug is in excellent condition, and is for sale: $AUD65
These glasses are ‘swanky swigs’- and they are collected by my partner. Originally the glasses held Kraft products and had a metal lid: then Kraft hit upon the idea of decorating the glasses in a range of themes- so making the glasses collectible. The term ‘swanky swig’ was coined to denote the [obviously] swanky glass from which one swigged! Each design came in six bright colours to form a set; an early innovative use of repurposing.
These swanky swigs have a distinctive Australian theme: eucalyptus flowers & gumnuts, and waratahs. They are getting harder to find now- I think because the glasses were considered fairly kitschy when first produced and many glasses were not kept. But for nostalgic collectors- nirvana consists in obtaining a complete set of six. If anyone has the dark blue and yellow gumnut glasses- I need to talk to you!
The jug to the right still has its original ‘Waratah’ sticker which proudly proclaims “99% pure aluminium”. It has its measuring scale stamped on the inside – 2 pints or 40 oz. With a black bakelite handle [and lovely expressed mountings] it ticks all the boxes for me! It is relatively pristine and I hazard a guess as to an easy life since it was made.
The other two jugs show all the vicissitudes of a hard working kitchen life. The fronts-most jug has a brown bakelite handle, again with those expressed mounts. The last jug has a riveted aluminium handle. Both these jugs have the same inside scale as the Waratah, but with more dings and dulling of the aluminium. Evidence of real life!
Use the jugs in the kitchen, or as funky vases, or just add them to your collection of 40s jugs.