Archive for the ‘Diana Pottery’ tag

Finds #2 – Diana Waltzing Matilda Jug (UPDATE)

Just a quick update to to my May 1st 2011 post Finds #2 – Diana Waltzing Matilda Jug where I asked if anyone had a spare musical mechanism from a busted jug to replace the one mine was missing.

Well you wouldn’t believe it but I went to a local auction and what did I see but a box lot containing a badly broken Waltzing Matilda jug with it’s mechanism still in place. The replacement is not perfect but it works. The original plywood backing board has suffered an attack by some wood worm but it’s still holding together just nicely.

Not only did I get the mechanism for a price I was more than happy to pay but also thrown in with the lot were 2 Marutomo ware Don Bradman mugs one in perfect condition and another one in a broken but repairable state.

See! All good things come to those who wait.

On that subject I’ve been waiting a long time for a piece of Maude Poynter to turn up. Just sayin…….


Original Diana Musical Movement

Original Diana Musical Movement

Posted: April 24th, 2014
at 5:15pm by Tim

Tagged with , , , , ,

Categories: Australian Pottery,Finds

Comments: 1 comment

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

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.

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!