On the 3rd of February 2013, I had one of the most pleasurable vintage buying experiences of my lifetime.
Buying & Selling Vintage is rewarding in itself, however buying something for your own personal collection brings such an amazing feeling that you can’t explain, but only hope that others get to feel the same at some stage.
My experience on that day was out of this world.
I collect and absolutely love pottery by the Australian pottery company ‘Ellis.’
There are so many types of pieces out there, from common domestic ware like dishes & ashtrays, through to unique stylised hand build pottery figures.
The company ‘Ellis Ceramics’ was set up in 1953 by Dagma & Miloslav Kratochvil, a Czechoslovakian Husband & Wife team who worked like many potters of the era, in their own backyard in Abbotsford, Melbourne.
I love their pieces so much as each piece is so unique. Even pieces that were made repetitively from the same mold are individual as many of them were hand decorated and carved by art students. I’ve never seen two pieces the same.
What was so special about this particular buying experience? A Melbourne auction house was lucky enough to be consigned the Ellis pottery estate.
Mr Bob Masin, nephew of the Kratochvils, was ready to pass on their collection, and it was on offer to ME!
I died when I heard the word. This is the dream. I had no idea what to expect but everything inside me was jelly.
The collection included around 100 pieces. Works were mostly prototypes, one off pieces, hand build figures, experimental styles, there even included ephemera like sketches, designs and photographs of his works.
There were also books from their personal library, that showed where their inspiration came from. This was incredible. INCREDIBLE.
I went into viewing hoping with all my hope they’d allow me to photograph the pieces, in fear I’d not be able to leave with one piece to add to my collection and It’d be like the day never existed. But photography was welcome and although my hands were shaking with excitement, I got to pickup and touch, and examine and photograph these museum worthy pieces.
Most pieces in this collection, though as mentioned above every piece by Ellis is unique, were even more unique. They were not only one off pieces made in experimentation, but they were part of the Kratochvil’s personal collection. They for some reason or another decided they liked it, or treasured it in some way, and felt the need to hold onto it for themselves, and not sell it.
I went through each piece with a fine tooth comb, really taking in absolutely everything I could. Knowing the competition for these pieces would be fierce and I may, just may leave with nothing. I wanted to make the most of this. I was at the viewing for hours.
My heart is racing just reliving this. I hope I don’t sound like a crazy lady getting so excited about lumps of clay, haha but insert your dream auction in replacement of my pottery, let’s say Chanel. (Don’t we all wish) And then add that it’s actually Coco Chanel’s personal collection of her own works. Is your heart fluttering yet?
Alrighty let me get to some photos.
This would have been the KING piece of the auction. It sold quite well.
Not an Ellis piece, however it came from their estate. Can you pick who created it?
Nope, neither could the auction house! They mis-named the piece calling it Gus McLaren instead of Iris Gailbraith turning a $400 piece into a $3000+ piece.
Braggs auction house also took no responsibility for the mis representation.
I was lucky enough to buy him (Yay I got a piece I got a piece)
I was so lucky to end up leaving with a few to add to my collection and am so excited to own such an important part of Australian history.
I used to collect all Ellis pottery however had to limit it to just collecting the figures.
So you’ll find some other kinds of Ellis pieces available for sale in my online vintage shop! Click here to check some more out. There’s also some pieces in our ‘real’ shop ‘Hunter & Co. Vintage‘ at 553 Plenty Road Preston.
Oh and if you happen to have any figures, I’d definitely be interested in buying them. ;)