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Antique Chat: Australian pottery – the new collectable

With Joyce ‘Annie’ Nordsvan

Remember the nights when a group of friends came round – you had spaghetti bolognaise and red wine stylishly served in pottery goblets. Pottery is again making a comeback as it is collectable, affordable and there is a style to suit every home.

Bendigo Pottery is Australia’s oldest working pottery, having been established in 1858. It is also probably the best known with most people easily recognising platters, mugs, canisters and vases with the famous Bendigo Pottery mark.

A particular favourite of mine is Pates Pottery and I have been lucky enough to acquire a good collection of very Art Deco Pates.

In starting my research on pottery, I fortunately came across the website of the National Museum of Australian Pottery, which is located in Holbrook NSW.

Geoff Ford OAM, FAIHA, and Kerrie Ford FAIHA, are the owner directors of the National Museum of Australian Pottery which they established in 1995 in Wodonga, Victoria. In September 2006 they opened the new and permanent home of the museum in Holbrook, NSW.

The museum is the only one dedicated to 19th and early 20th century Australian pottery and is the culmination of many years of collecting and research throughout Australia. On display are over 1,600 pieces of domestic pottery from over 120 Australian pottery companies established between European settlement and the end of World War I. Amongst the extensive range of pottery wares, such as simple preserving jars, jugs, colourful cheese covers, beautiful bread plates and elegantly decorated water filters are a few rare examples of pottery made by the convict potter Jonathan Leak, who’s few surviving pieces are the earliest marked pottery produced in Australia. Also on display are over 100 original photographs, showing the interior and exterior of many potteries, exhibition displays and portraits of the potters along with catalogues, price lists and numerous old advertisements. The collection represents in many ways the struggle, courage and determination of many of our early potters who, often under difficult circumstances, produced basic and decorative domestic pottery, frequently with spectacular results.

David and I often drive past the museum, and intend to take the time to drop in and visit on our next trip. I’m hoping they have a Bendigo Pottery majolica water filter which I have only ever seen in a photo.

Till next time,


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