Part of a good-sized consignment of vintage Barsony ceramic pieces. We have 5 or 6 Barsony pieces to be sold from this consignment. Located in BRUNSWICK, MELBOURNE, this is part of a deceased estate. The Executor of the Will has agreed to professionally pack these items for postage and take them to the post office. (She’s had a lot of experience packing delicate items as her Dad is ceramicist.) Your offer price will INCLUDE packing and delivery to the local post office. Postage fees will be calculated AFTER packing and then invoiced separately.
We’re still waiting on probate to come through for this deceased estate. The piece is currently OFFERS OVER $850.
Call (or SMS) us on the phone number in CONTACT section to express your interest in this piece.
Provenance and Background Info
(Written in 2022)
Barsony ceramics is one of Australia’s most celebrated decorative arts companies to ever operate and the matt-black pieces in this style are the most collectable of their designs. Barsony Ceramics produced decorative ceramic wares in the 1950’s and 1960’s, operating in Sydney by George Barsony (1917-2010) and Jean Barsony from the early 1950’s to the early 1970’s. Ellis pottery is the only Australian pottery firm I can think of that is probably more celebrated- in my eyes Barsony comes in a close second. This piece is one of the most collectable Barsony ceramic pieces I’ve come across for some years. Most of these pieces had holes in them for the addition of lamp parts- nearly all Barsony pieces are lamps. This one was NOT made as a lamp- the holes are not present. This design is one of Barsony’s most popular and collectable but in a piece made as decorative item only it is the only one I’ve ever seen. Barsony pieces that are NOT lamps fetch higher prices simply because of the rarity. This piece is a perfect piece for the collector- I doubt you’ll come across another again.
It is also clearly marked to the base which further adds to it’s collector appeal and value. The fact it’s marked H4 verifies it was made as a decorative piece only and not a lamp. In a lamp, this design is marked HL-4 (HL = Head Lamp). FL in Barsony pieces stands for Figural Lamp. L is for Lamp, H for Head and F- Figurine.
Barsony products became so popular in the 1950’s and 60’s that the factory in Guildford, Western Sydney operated 24 hours a day to satisfy demand. Barsony ceramics became unfashionable in the late-70’s and 1980’s when Chinese-made items started to flood the Australian market. Most vintage pieces at this time were seen as being “daggy” and “for poor people”. Many people thought of items such as Barsony pieces as junk and threw them out. Numbers have diminished over the years. Around 2002, fashions changed and vintage pieces slowly started to become more sought-after. Kitsch items became cool in the early noughties- Barsony black lady lamps started to feature in the upmarket vintage shops in our Capital cities. At around 2003 black lady lamps in good condition were being sold for around $300. Since COVID all things vintage reached a height of popularity never before experienced. Today in 2022, vintage pieces made in Australia have become extremely sought after and hotly contested when they come onto the market. Barsony ceramics have become amongst the most highly-prized vintage decorative arts pieces in Australia. Good examples are now consistently fetching over $1200 each- I’ve seen many bid up in auction to over $1500 (written 2022).
I think the appeal is because of the seamless melding of retro kitsch with timeless elegance. Many are stylish, elegant pieces of design- the hand-painted decoration on the other hand is often the epitome of kitsch and retro. This contrast creates an intriguing look that draws you in. Well-placed, they work in any interior but in those cool retro spaces with vintage Kartell pieces, Guzzini lamps and the like, Barsony pieces meld in brilliantly.
I love the hand-painted detailing on this one. Barsony pieces often stand apart because of the level of sophistication seen in the hand-painted decoration. It is said that Jean Barsony often sat at her kitchen table at night, surrounded by grandchildren, painting these pieces. The nostalgia this scene conjures up is heart-warming and it is my hope that visions like this will encourage more Australians today to try their hand at something creative. A resurgence in valuing locally-produced creative endeavours will surely bring about a positive effect in our communities.
George Barsony, a sculptor from Hungary arrived in Australia as a refugee after WWII. Soon after, George met his future wife Jean who had come to Australia from England and worked as a potter in Sydney. They established Barsony Ceramics together in 1950’s which operated in a factory in Guernsey Street, Guildford (Western Sydney) until the 1970’s.
Most Barsony products were marked, although there are some with no markings. As with anything that became popular, copies of Barsony items were made at the time. Many copies were unmarked however there was a range of similar items made by Kalmar which adopted a similar marking system to Barsony.
The most recognisable Barsony product are the “black lady” lamps, featuring a scantily dressed figure with highlights in red and other colours. Some lamps incorporated an ash tray as well. At that time a high sales tax was levied on ornamental items, while utilitarian items such as cups, plates and ashtrays attracted a reduced sales tax.
The story of Barsony ceramics is yet another of resilience and success that has coloured Australia’s rich history in the Arts. Australia’s indigenous artists are regarded as some of the best in the world. On top of this, many artists who fled Europe and settled in Australia as a result of political unrest / World War II, went on to become some of Australia’s most celebrated artists ever, including George Barsony. In my time setting up and running iNVISeDGE, I have read time and time again stories of refugees who set up industries in their garages in the 1950’s and went on to achieve success they could only dream of. Many of these people came to Australia with no physical assets and the trauma of having to flee home and venture into the unknown. We can all learn from their industriousness and resilience.
Barsony ceramic pieces are now one for the history books. These items, that have now inspired us for 70 years, have leapt in value in recent times and I see no reason why this trend won’t continue. After modern, mass-produced items are no longer in trend and end up landfill, vintage Barsony pieces will be passed on to yet another owner and then another new generation. These pieces are set to be passed on through the generations, gathering more stories as they go. Investing in vintage pieces is a great way to invest in your home, reduce landfill and support Australian small businesses of today.