Archive for the ‘Australian Pottery’ tag

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.

My Favourite Pieces #2 – Remued 173 Jug

One of the few old pieces of pottery I have purchased in my first year living in Tassie. This Pamela/Remued 173 jug with a strap handle is certainly a stunner and an easy inclusion in my list of favourite pieces in my collection.

Standing just 9cm high and measuring 16cm from spout to handle this jug has a substantial look and feel despite it’s proportions. Displaying early Pamela colouring and an unusual strap handle it certainly doesn’t go unnoticed on my packed sideboard.

This piece is unmarked and unnumbered, which is not unusual for early Remued. The absence of a shape number along with the distinctive colouring and less pronounced spout seem to point to a 1933/4 manufacture date. This variant with a flat strap handle is not recorded on but a quick e-mail to Peter Watson revealed this is not the first he has seen. In fact he had seen several all of which are unmarked and unnumbered which is why he is hesitant to make the call at this stage. For me, however, there is no doubt especially given that other shapes appear on the website in the exact same colour scheme (see bottom left image on unnumbered PPP shapes).

Remued 173 Jug

Posted: October 16th, 2010
at 4:08pm by Tim

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Categories: Australian Pottery,Favourite Things

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George Barsony 1917 – 2010

It is with much sadness that I announce that George Julius Barsony passed away 7/10/10 aged 93.

George, a Hungarian born sculptor and artist will be most remembered in collecting circles for his series of “Black Lady” lamps and figures produced from the 1950’s and into the 70’s.

Although George is gone his memory will continue to live on through the amazing body of work he leaves behind.

Posted: October 16th, 2010
at 1:52pm by Tim

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Categories: Australian Pottery

Comments: 4 comments

Bits and Pieces #1 – Search Queries

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been over 3 months since my last post. I do feel a little ashamed but I have good  reason for it. In the last 3 months I have started a new job all while preparing for our new shed being built soon, which in itself has meant many hours of sawing, smashing, digging and jackhammering for us both!

Anyway, enough of all that and onto the topic of my first post in 3 months, Search Queries …

In reacquainting myself with the goings on of my website I was checking out the statistical data (number of hits, country of origin of the visitors, most popular articles etc). Among this overload of information, what I found most interesting was HOW people were finding my website on search engines like Google. Most come via rather simple searches like “Cula Pottery” or “Florenz Pottery”. Others, however, “ask” Google an entire question to find their way to my site like “How to value Australian Pottery?”.

So, I thought I would go through a sampling of these “questions” that helped people find my site and see if I can answer some of them for you all.

“Bakewell Newtone Date Range”

The “Newtone” range of art wares were in production from the early 1930’s until the late 1940’s (although I’m not sure much would have been produced during the war years). In the early 1950’s the name (but not anything else) of this range was changed to “Trent Art Ware”. Geoff Ford suggests that after the close of Bakewells in 1955 the Trent name and indeed line was continued by former employees in their backyard. At this point in time I’m not sure what, if any, of the old Newtone/Trent line was produced in that Bexley backyard as the mid to late 50’s Trent Art Ware pieces are unique to those years in production method, design, catalogue numbers and decoration.

Having said all that, as far as I know there are no factory production line Newtone or Trent pieces marked with a date so finding a more accurate cutoff point is a bit hard. I do have a workman’s piece of Newtone dated 1937 and a piece from Bakewells Beulah Ware line dated “Xmas 1938” so it’s safe to assume those lines continued up to and past those dates.

“Everything about Trent Art Ware Pottery”

I don’t know everything about Trent Art Ware and what I do know is mostly written in the paragraph above. Information is very scant and the majority of the people involved are disappearing rapidly.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, if you know anyone who worked for Bakewell Brothers or Trent Art Ware in Bexley or have any information on any era of production please contact me through this website as I am desperate for information!

“How to know if it is MCP pottery?”

I can only assume this is in regard to the Disney range produced by MCP in the 1950’s as for the most part, MCP is fairly well marked.

I have heard about people who can ID an MCP Disney piece by sticking their finger inside the drain hole and all manner of things. The thing that no novice collector wants to hear though is that at this point in time there is no easy answer and it is mostly research and experience which will ID an unmarked piece. There is some obvious colour differences between the American produced pieces and some models were only produced in Australia, which makes it easier. There is a blog compiling MCP Disney pieces which is by far and away the best visual reference I have come across in the public domain and it should be a great help to most.

“How to value Australian Pottery?”

A little bit of a how long is a piece of string type question …

Generally speaking though it’s like anything else – it’s a combination of factors that makes one piece worth more than another. For example a big misconception is that rarity alone makes something valuable. So, let’s knock that one on the head right now. There are plenty of very rare items that have no value at all because they just aren’t desirable or widely collected.

BUT, if you have a rare item by a desirable maker in good condition the outlook is a little rosier.

Good places to find out more about the value of your item for free could be the eBay completed items search or a reputable auction house.

“Newtone pottery the biggest hand painted vase”

The tallest hand painted Newtone vase I know of is about 11 inches or 28cm high (depending on how many candles are on your cake).

In fact 28cm is about the tallest Newtone vase I have seen full-stop and I believe this is about as big as they come. I have seen a hand painted vase by Daisy Merton which resides in the Merton family collection which stands about 50cm high but I don’t believe the work is on a Newtone blank like the majority of her Ceramic works.

“What is the difference between Studio Anna and Florenz Pottery?”

The short answer? Plenty!

I can only assume this query comes from eBay’s “Studio Anna, Florenz” sub category which to be honest is a complete mystery to me too!

Both companies had a long and distinguished career but to my knowledge were never linked.

Studio Anna (or more correctly Anna Studio) was owned and operated continuously under the same name by Karel Jungvirt and Toni Coles from 1953 to 1999.

Florenz has a somewhat more complex history starting with Florence Williams in the 1930’s and having a connection in its later stages with K.C. Industries (Casey Ware).

For more detailed information on both potteries see pages 44 and 70 of Dorothy Johnston’s “The People’s Potteries”.

That’s all I’ve got time for right now but hope I’ve been of some help to someone …

Out and About #1 – Saddlers Court Gallery

Last week, while entertaining some mainland visitors,  we decided to take the lovely drive out to the historic town of Richmond (about 30 minutes drive from Hobart) for a spot of lunch before  dropping our guests at the airport for  their long trip home.

On the way back to the car after lunch we managed a quick stop off at Saddlers Court Gallery for a look at some fine modern Tasmanian, Australian pottery. The gallery contains works by Derek Smith, Sue Stack, Panogana Pottery by Bill Thomas, Zsolt Faludi, and Mark Knight just to mention a few and is well worth a look if you are visiting Richmond. The Saddlers Court website also says they carry pieces by Les Blakebrough but I didn’t see any on my visit. Having said that I’m not sure how up to date their site is as they don’t mention Mark Knight despite a comprehensive  range being available in the gallery.

Set of Mark Knight Cannisters

Set of Mark Knight Cannisters

I will also mention that there is far more to see at the Gallery than just Tasmanian pottery. There is also an interesting selection of paintings, prints, art glass, large and small works in wood as well as jewelery. All up more than 100 different Tasmanian artists and crafts people are represented at Saddlers Court.

The gallery is open from 10pm to 5pm daily and will open after hours for organised groups by prior arrangement only.

Recommended Reading #1 – The People’s Potteries

Image courtesy of Dorothy Johnston

Image courtesy of Dorothy Johnston

Published in 2002, the result of nearly 10 years research, Dorothy Johnston’s first book “The People’s Potteries” certainly makes it to my recommended reading list for anyone collecting post-war Australian pottery. This 216 page hardcover book tells the stories of 24 of the most important and prolific semi-commercial and hobby potteries which came into being in Australia immediately after the second World War.

With this book, Dorothy tells the stories of the people behind these post-war potteries. Much of the information contained in the book is “from the horse’s mouth” (so to speak) and is taken directly from conversations with the potters and their relatives themselves. This book is certainly a testament to Dorothy’s diligence and thorough research and that, I think, is what really sets this book apart from others in the field.

The book tells the stories of Studio Anna, Brownie Downing, Casey, Cula, Diana, Delamere, Etta Easton, Studio Fisher, Florenz (Florence Williams), Nell Holden, Kalmar (AACP), Kemety, Little Sydney, Martin Boyd Pottery, Meroh, Daisy Merton, Geoffrey Merton, Nell McCredie, Modern Ceramic Products (MCP), Pates, Rohova, Grace Seccombe, Terra Ceramics, Vande, Laurie Fluss and others.

There are also chapters dedicated to the effect that imports had on these small businesses, themes and decoration, as well as a general guide to value. Not only that but the book is also richly illustrated with around 500 images including 70 colour plates, and reproductions of six original sales catalogues from Studio Anna, Diana, Studio Fisher, MCP, Pates, and Vande.

And now for the good news, unlike the majority of books on the subject of Australian pottery this book is still in print and available direct from the author herself through her website for only $100 + $10 postage and handling or only $140 including free postage when purchased together with her second book “More People’s Potteries” (which I will cover in a later installment of “Recommended Reading”).

My Favourite Pieces #1 – Newtone Koala

One of the few animals in Bakewell’s Newtone range, this cheeky looking fellow would have to be one of my favorite pieces of Australian pottery in my collection,  and not just because I got him for free (he was a birthday present from my girlfriend Sarah). Produced circa 1935, with hand painted details most likely by Daisy Merton and modeled by either Daisy Merton or Jack Moss. This is in my opinion just about the best looking free-standing Koala figure produced by any of  the big Australian names from the 1930’s to the 1950’s hands down.

Most credit goes here to what looks to be the exceptional detailing provided by Daisy Merton. There were two other paintresses working for Bakewell Bros at the time (Joy Yeoman and another who it seems may not have ever signed her work) but as with the eyes being the key to an Orpheus Arfaras MCP Disney figure those stoner eyes and cheeky grin have Daisy’s name written all over them not to mention the fantastic gum-leaf and trunk detailing.

This piece does also come in the standard Newtone green and brown drip glaze combination (if you have seen it in another colour please let me know) and has also been spotted with a Trent Art Ware sticker on it but this is either the result of a sticker swap by an unscrupulous seller or older Bakewell’s stock purchased by Trent when they took over the Newtone line. If any of these were produced during the Trent period in the 1950’s it is most likely the green and brown drip glaze pieces as I think their later wares show they didn’t have the decorating talent available to pull of something like this.

Like with most Australian pottery there are copies about most notably the ones made by both Pates and Diana albeit with a different less complicated and easier to cast base covered in flowers which Newtone or Trent may have produced also. I have been told that Diana worked from the original molds which they purchased from Bakewell’s but at this stage I haven’t been able to confirm this. Strangely I have not seen an Asian copy of this figure but even more strangely is the fact that this piece is original to Bakewells at all given the amount of pieces they copied from Beswick!

What is Australian pottery?

I thought for the first post it would probably be best to start from  the start and ask the question.

What is Australian pottery?

Now, you think that would be an easy question to answer but the truth of the matter is that I have procrastinated on what to write in response to my own question for more time than I care to let you know.

Why? Well because it’s not an easy question to answer. These two simple words “Australian” and “Pottery” are so easy to define on their own but put together they mean so many different things to each and every one of us as collectors.

To some, like Geoff and Kerrie Ford from the National Museum of Australian Pottery, Australian pottery means domestic wares made by Australian companies that started operation before the end of the first world war in 1919. To others, like Judith Pearce and David Rofe from the Australian Pottery at Bemboka gallery it’s almost all about post 1960’s, art and craft potters producing stunning and often one of a kind creations. You really couldn’t find two more opposite examples than that and yet still call both collectors of essentially the same subject.

And me? Well I sit somewhere in-between with pieces in my collection dating from the late 19th century right up to the modern day (for the record my oldest piece is a Lithgow Pottery jelly mold and the most recent a David Usher bowl from 2002)  but to be honest with you all I do prefer to stick between the great wars with what I will term commercial art wares from companies like Remued, Mashman, Fowler, Melrose and of course my great love the Newtone range of wares produced by Bakewells in the 1930’s.

To me Australian pottery is what it is. A fascinating subject so diverse that you couldn’t possibly know it all and if you did, you are probably kidding yourself.

Please leave a comment and let me know what Australian Pottery mean to you?

Posted: October 18th, 2009
at 5:14am by Tim

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Categories: Australian Pottery

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