1950s Black Lady Lamps

Ballerina Lamps. Many thanks to Black-Afro at Flickr for the use of the images
George Barsony
George Julius Barsony was an Hungarian born, Australian sculptor, famous for his prolific series of Black Lady lamps, ashtrays and figurines, which he produced from his potteries in Guildford, NSW from the 1950s and into the 1970s. Owing to the retro renaissance, Barsony lamps are highly collectible and are emblematic of modern retro era, the adherents of which seem so drawn to distinctive, good quality kitsch.

 Image by Black-Afro ar Flickr
Barsony came to Australia as a refugee in 1949 and with his wife Jean, soon after set up his potteries - Barsony Ceramics. Exotic black figures were strangely popular in the 1950s and at the time there were a several companies involved in their manufacture - Kalmar in Sydney, Moss and Bossons from England many more from Japan. Barsony ceramics were in high demand and the company had several employees but eventually, as is its want,  public taste shifted and they went out of vogue

From the late 50s, the black figures were marked with either 'Barsony' or 'George Barsony' and in the 60s the mark was replaced with a red sticker. Characteristic features of a Barsony piece include soft, rounded edges, rounded breasts (as opposed to pointed), red painted lips and bright splashes of colour in the clothing and accents. Ebay warns to be wary of pieces being palmed off as "Barsony style".

Black Beauties
Although some of Barsony's figures err on the side of black cliché , many others are notable for their elegance and aesthetic, feminine poses. Interestingly, no two figures are exactly alike and all were designed by Barsony himself.  Barsony lamps, complete with the original lamp shades, which Jean Barsony handmade at the kitchen table of their home, are considered the most desirable by collectors, though of course, the more unusual the piece the more sought after it tends to be.. I have a red ballerina lamp myself, complete with nylon lampshade, pearl tear-drop earrings and a jewel encrusted red and white skirt.

George Barsony died in a nursing home in 2010 at the age of 93 and leaves behind a legion of fans and a significant legacy of very 50s, unique and highly distinctive sculptures.

Image by Black-Afro at Flickr
TV Lamps
 Sources: The Collectors, ABC, ebay Australia Guides