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