Musical mugs (2) and jugs (2), 'Waltzing Matilda', slip cast earthenware / metal / wood, made by Diana Pottery / Ware, Marrickville, New South Wales, Australia, 1951-1952
The musical jugs produced for a short time by Diana Pottery demonstrates the competitive and opportunistic nature of Australian post-war industry, and pottery production in particular. Japanese and British potteries as well as Australian competitors were vigilant in keeping up to date with market demand, and Japanese producers were especially capable of incredible turnaround in copying new products. Against this economic background, the disastrous fire at the potteries of Crown Devon in Britain in 1951 provided an opportunity to produce musical jugs previously dominated by that company. In the same year Diana applied for a patent on a 'Waltzing Matilda' musical jug, though as these examples demonstrate, a mug was also produced. The short span of manufacture is attributed to the expense of making the hand-painted items with an imported mechanism, and 1952 seems to be the last year of production. By 1954 Crown Devon in England were back to full production.
Diana Ware began production in 1940 in Marrickville, Sydney, and remained in production until 1975 . From 1941 Diana was engaged to provide the armed forces, and resumed the making of 'fancy wares' for the general public in 1946. Post war utility however formally encouraged the production of non-luxury practical wares through the imposition of a higher tax on purely decorative wares. In response, Diana Ware, in common with other Australian potteries, manufactured decorative items with a practical use to avoid the tax.This explains the production of vases, ash trays and domestic crockery in preference to, for example, figurines. The 'Waltzing Matilda' jugs and mugs (or tankards) were another attempt to make practical items with a novel twist. The opportunity was made available to enter this section of the market in the early 1950s. From 1930 Crown Devon in Britain had dominated the manufacture of musical jugs and mugs. A disastrous fire in 1951at Crown Devon's factory halted production and Diana took out a patent on the 'Waltzing Matilda' range. The same Swiss manufacturer was used to make the clockwork mechanism as had been used by Crown Devon. The mechanism was wound, and only played when a pin was released as the vessel was lifted from a hard surface, then stopped when put down. The mechanism and complexity of the hand-painted design made them very expensive to produce, and they ceased production after around one year.
Alan Robb. Diana Pottery's Musical Jugs and Mugs, 'Australiana' 22 (1), Feb. 2000.
Geoffery Ostling. Desperately Seeking Diana, 'Heritage: Journal of the Marrickville Heritage Society, no. 8, 1994.
Dorothy Johnston. 'The People's Potteries', Dorothy Johnston Pub., 2002.