Applied decoration - BIRDS & ANIMALS

Amongst the various forms of applied decoration, birds and animals are the rarest. They are highly prized by collectors (although not always a personal favourite of mine I must admit) and attract high prices. While not the intention of this catalogue to list prices it may be mentioned that examples have sold in recent years for many thousands of dollars.

Designs were initially by Margaret Kerr, later joined and expanded by those of John Castle-Harris and Allan James. For a discussion of their differing styles the reader is referred to Gregory Hill's article in the 'Gumnuts and Glazes' catalogue. There was also minor post-war experimentation that included birds and animals.

Creatures include koalas, kangaroos, skinks, frill-neck dragons, mythical dragons, kookaburras and finches. Being rare, few examples are yet recorded in the image database and cataloguing is therefore far from comprehensive. The history of shape-numbering remains unclear. The earliest pieces - small low-relief koalas, sprig-moulded - are un-numbered, dating from 1933-34 prior to Early Series numbering. From 1935 (when John Castle-Harris was at Premier) three-dimensional press-moulded koalas and lizards were applied to numbered Early Series shapes with the suffixes 'B' and 'Z' respectively. Sprig-moulded low-relief pieces however had a small separate numbering system, the Alphabet Series. More elaborate pieces such as those with dragons, although produced during the Early Series period, remained un-numbered being either one-offs or in very small batches.

Click on the links below for more detail.

Low-relief birds & animals

Sprig-moulded. Three separate groups. All are rare.
  1. Very early un-numbered pieces, before numbering began.
  2. Pieces in a special 'Alphabet' numbering series contemporary with the Early Series.
  3. Post-war decoration applied to Later Series shapes.

Three-dimensional birds & animals
applied to Early Series shapes

Press-moulded. Most are standard Early Series shapes, numbered and with the suffixes 'B' (koalas) or 'Z' (lizards, kookaburras).
Others, rather larger, are in the form of figurines and bookends.

Three-dimensional birds & animals;
'Specials' and One-offs

Unique studio pieces from potters at Premier.
Un-numbered, probably never offered for retail sale.

'Animal' series (?)
A small group of pieces that are stylistically related to one another. All have 3-dimensional animals (mostly koalas) and feature a wide flaring foot becoming narrower upwards.

It is not clear whether their numbering is a re-allocation of disused low numbers within the Early Series, or perhaps a separate little numbering series of its own. More examples are needed. For the time being at least, they are catalogued within the Early Series.
Numbers so far identified (suffixed B or Z) are;

Early Series 4
Early Series 5
Early Series 7
Early Series 9
Early Series 13