Archive for the ‘Grace Seccombe’ tag

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

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”).