Archive for February, 2011

Mystery Potter #1 – Denise

The little Koala ashtray shown below has sat in my cupboard for some years now, long forgotten and covered in dust. Purchased for only a few dollars, I wasn’t worried who made him even though he is signed.

Then, only a month or so back I found the Scottie dog ashtray shown below right by the same mystery potter.

There seems to be no mention of the mystery “Denise” in any of the noted text and a bit of sniffing around revealed I wasn’t the only one with a bit of Denise in the cupboard.

All  the pieces I have seen are certainly well made enough to suggest they are from a commercial enterprise of some level and dating from around the first half of the 1950’s.

I guess this shouldn’t be too hard to sort out, we are already half-way since they are all signed Denise. All we need is the last name. Should be easy right? LOL

If you have any idea who the mystery Denise might be or if you have a Denise in  the cupboard please leave me a comment below.

Posted: February 13th, 2011
at 5:37pm by Tim

Tagged with , , , , ,

Categories: Australian Pottery,Mystery Potter

Comments: 4 comments

Finds #1 – Essexware Pastille Burner

Well, it’s only taken me 7 years of collecting Aussie Pottery but last month I finally acquired my first piece of Essexware. I know it’s not the greatest example of what Essexware was capable of, but still a sweet little piece nonetheless. The piece was sold to me as an “Australian Pottery Pie Funnel” which made me chuckle a little I must admit. I have seen a few for sale in the past and they have been described as Pastille Burners or ashtrays. I think the absence of a “rest” for your ciggy quickly rules out the ashtray idea though.

Standing only 9cm high this piece is lovingly hand painted and fully signed to the base “Essexware Leura”.

According to Geoff Ford’s Encyclopedia of Australian Potter’s Marks (1st ed pg67);  Essexware was started in 1945 (somewhere between 1951 and 1954 is more likely though) by Gordon and Irene Dunstan in Leura NSW. The pottery was in operation until 1957 when it was completely destroyed by bushfire. The timing of the fire was unfortunate for Norm Sherratt who had quit his job with Diana and was due to start work at Essexware the week after the fire hit. Norm went on to work for Studio Anna for a short period before taking a job with Wembley Ware in Perth.

Some of the potters who worked at Essexware were Adele Durie, Rudolf Planter, Thomas Alban, Beverley Bray, Tony Priest, and Marjory Zabell.

While my little house is quite collectible, the most desirable pieces are covered in amazing Aboriginal themed artworks and signed by the Artists. At its best, Essexware stands tall even when compared to the best of the Boyds and Studio Anna.

For those interested in reading more about Essexware this is a a blog dedicated to the potteries, people and wares: Essexware Ponderings

The blog is unique as it shows many photographs of the potters at work and play in the late 1950’s. It’s great to be able to put a face to the name when so often in this area of collecting the name is all that remains.