Archive for May, 2011

Mystery Potter #2 – Xella, Kella, K Ella

Standing 19cm high and measuring 21cm end to end, this amazingly detailed figure of a North American Blue Jay is another favourite from my collection, unfortunately it’s also a complete mystery!

Marked to the base either Xella 584 or X-ella (Kella, K ella, or K-ella) and bearing a Queensland “We Make it Great in The Sunshine State” sticker, this is either a very interesting piece of late 1980’s Australian pottery or a sticker swapping impostor.

Naturally, I’ve checked and double checked the books, I’ve googled furiously and e-mailed knowledgeable collectors, all to no avail.

Throughout my chats with collectors and dealers regarding this piece, one worrying constant keeps popping up. People keep asking me if I’m sure the sticker belongs to this piece? All I can say is that the sticker looks to be contemporary with the age of the item and also looks to have been in it’s current position for quite some time. I do believe it is Australian made from Queensland but do have to admit that this easily removable sticker is the only thing linking this piece to Australia and Queensland.

Scat pottery were producing similar, highly detailed figures of native and non-native birds in the 1970’s so it’s nothing we haven’t seen from Australian companies before.

The name Xella seems to be of French origin and means “From the Mountain Home”  which seems kind of fitting given the material used to produce this amazing bird.

If my Xella Bird proves to be an impostor I’ll be a little up upset but have to admit, no matter what the outcome, this little birdy still has a place reserved in the shelves of my collection. Granted though, if it isn’t Australian it might be pushed a little towards the back of that shelf. LOL

Posted: May 8th, 2011
at 9:10am by Tim

Tagged with , ,

Categories: Australian Pottery,Mystery Potter

Comments: 2 comments

Finds #2 – Diana Waltzing Matilda Jug

Now, I can’t say I have too many pieces of Diana pottery in my collection.

The number of Diana pieces that have made it onto the “Keepers” list is even smaller (I think seeing a bit of Diana’s Nefertiti stoneware everywhere has kinda put me off the brand. Having said that one of my other Diana keepers is from the Nefertiti range. But that’s a story for another day).

This jug, my most recent find, has most certainly worked its way onto my list of keepers and is fast becoming a favourite of mine.

Modeled by Tony Vacek for the Diana Pottery of Marrickville NSW in 1951, this jug stands a substantial 20cm high and is marked “D51” under the first sheep’s head to signify the year of manufacture. There are 2 or 3 different colourways available and it is said that less than 1000 around 6000 were produced in the nearly 2 years they were in production. What the split was between colour variants I don’t know, safe to say they are all hard to find.

The jug has a recess in  the base for a musical movement which would have played Waltzing Matilda when lifted up. The movements were imported from Switzerland and were so expensive and difficult to obtain that many were sold half price without it, so it’s no surprise this jug doesn’t have one (if you have a spare movement or busted jug with a movement let me know, lol).

There is also a Waltzing Matilda musical mug as a companion to the jug which also came in at least 2 different colour variants. As these mugs and jugs are reasonably rare and highly desirable,  prices these days are substantial so make sure you have plenty of folding stuff in your wallet if you are chasing a complete set. It almost brings a tear to my eye to hear my Dad recall in the early 1990’s a friend had 5 or 6 of these jugs and couldn’t give  them away! How times have changed! What’s worse is the stories of how many Grace Seccombe animals my folks sold in the 80’s for next to nothing! Argh!!

Post Script: Thanks to Tony from the New Zealand Pottery Forum for pointing out Mirek Smisek’s involvement in the design of this jug. The following is an excerpt from the Mirek Smisek – 60 Years, 60 Pots exhibition catalogue:

“We made about 6,000. They were so popular; you have no idea. I did it with Tony Vacek, who was a sculptor. I designed the colour scheme. The colour was painted on, then rubbed off, so that it stayed only in the deeper part, which made it very clear, creating a sculptural feel. Two Czechs designing a Waltzing Matilda jug – the irony of it.” p9, Mirek Smisek – 60 Years 60 Pots,Mahara Gallery, Waikanae,2009

Mystery Potter #1 – Denise – Solved!

A short while ago I was contacted by a woman named Denise to let me know that the mystery potter referred to in my last post was none other than her Mother, Eileen Gunning.

Eileen started the pottery in her Burwood (Sydney) backyard naming it after her eldest child, “Denise”.

The wares produced were sold through the Princes Hotel and another long gone retail establishment which Denise can’t recall.

I tried to e-mail Denise for a little more information but the address she left isn’t working for me and I have not heard back from her.

Denise if you are still out there please contact me again as I’ve got a few questions for you.

So, that’s one mystery solved…..

Can’t be too many left to sort out?! LOL

Posted: May 1st, 2011
at 1:27pm by Tim

Tagged with , ,

Categories: Australian Pottery,Mystery Potter

Comments: 1 comment