Highly collectible Barsony (bah-so-nee) black lady lamps come in many different forms and were once a part of the modern retro household, before losing favour and being relegated to the garage or the attic, where they gathered dust until the retro renaissance gave them a high value to the collector.
George Barsony, who was a talented sculptor from Pécs, Hungary - we see his statue of St Francis there. George arrived in Australia as a refugee in 1949 and shortly after he met his future wife Jean who had come to Australia from England and who worked in a Sydney pottery. Together they set up Barsony Ceramics, the company operating out of Guernsey Street, Guildford in Western Sydney from the 1950s to 1970s. After that the kilns were sold but the company continued to operate until 2005.
The name Barsony has become synonymous with black ceramics from the 50s and 60s, the time even being referred to as the “Barsony era”. But there were other potteries that made black ceramics, for example the Sydney pottery Kalmar and the English potteries Moss and Bossons and much was made in Japan. Makers’ marks need to be checked carefully. From the late 1950s through to the 60s pieces were marked with either ‘Barsony’ or “George Barsony’. From the late 60s to 1977 a red label was used. There were also prefix markings and a mould number. The designs followed themes from ballerinas, to bathing beauties and flamenco dancers.
Barsony also made items under the name ‘Silver Cloud’ and ‘Venice’. One of the most unusual Barsony pieces is a lustre-glazed pink poodle, but the most desirable are the lamps with their original shades. These were made by Jean Barsony at the kitchen table with their growing family around her. All the original figurines and moulds were designed and made by George Barsony. They were all hand decorated so no two pieces are identical.
George Barsony passed away recently, at the age of 93. Although George’s first love was his sculpture, as Claudia says, his legacy is a bevy of black beauties that have achieved iconic status.