Retro Kalahari Ashtray

R350.00 R210.00

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Retro Kalahari Ashtray

R350.00 R210.00

If I had to commit to my very favourite piece of South African pottery that we’ve featured on Mint to date, it would without a doubt be this superb Kalahari ashtray! I must be honest, until about a year ago I had never heard of Kalahari Studio, wares from which seem to be much harder to come by than those of other South African pottery houses. All I knew about this ashtray when I bought it was that Kalahari pieces were known to fetch very good prices – higher than those of the likes of Drostdy and Lucia – so I happily paid quite a steep price for it – although not knowing anything, I still would have opened my wallet – how could I not for something this handsome! Having read up a wee bit now, it seems that while not as common, Kalahari pottery is normally discussed in the same context as names like Linnware Pottery and Drostdy.

The studio was set up in 1948 by Latvian immigrants, Aleksanders Klopcanovs and his wife, Elma Vestman, who were trained in ceramics in northern Europe in the late 1930s and early 1940s, continuing their studies at the Royal Academy of Arts in Sweden. Originally based in Bramley, Johannesburg, Kalahari moved to Cape Town in July 1950. Supposedly in the early years the couple struggled so much that they used to cook their meals in the kiln, not having money for a stove, but the studio eventually took off, exporting across Africa, the UK, the US, Japan, and eventually Switzerland.

Locally Kalahari Studio only supplied expensive stores, such as the Kottler Gift Shop at the Mount Nelson Hotel and Stuttafords in Cape Town – which is perhaps why Kalahari pieces are so difficult to find – they’re not something that were mass produced, but rather works of art, designed for an exclusive (and hopefully appreciative!) clientele!

Note: There is some minor damage to the ashtray – see photos for details

Dimensions: 14cm in diameter x 5.5cm tall

Information on Kalahari Studio courtesy of Wendy Gers’ thesis, South African studio ceramics, c.1950s : the Kalahari Studio, Drostdy Ware and Crescent Potteries

 

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