Friday, May 18

Fantails: An iconic Titian motif

Over the years, Titian Studio produced a number of products with flora and fauna motifs. One of the most popular of these motifs appears to have been the humble fantail which appears on a number of different forms, some of which are harder to find than others.
The two small scraffito-decorated dishes in the centre were mainstays of Titian's souvenir range. The ashtray on the left was numbered S 100 (Souvenir number 0), and the pin dish on the right was numbered S101 (Souvenir number 1). There are two interesting points to remember about these small dishes. First, both forms went though two generations of mould, and secondly, the Bluff Oyster Shell form was given two other numbers depending on its decoration, without any alteration of the mould. This may have been for excise tax reasons. If you find a shell pin dish decorated with painted colourful native flowers like kaka beak or kowhai, these were given the number S106. If you find one decorated with a colourful painted native bird (including a fantail, a kiwi and a wood pigeon), these have the administrative number S107.

The fantail wall vase is a gorgeous piece of kiwiana design, and is one of the earliest of Titian wall vases (1950s). It was made before the numbering system was introduced.
 Interestingly, these fantails are only found in an early mould form with three raised dots on the reverse. Other wall vases, such as the famous Titian "Swoose", are found in both early three-pointed forms and a later second generation mould form, where the whole rim of the reverse is raised.
Reverse showing first gen wall vase mould with raised dots
Perhaps the rarest fantail themed pot put out by Titian was a modelled pond looked over by an applied fantail. This was conceived as an ashtray and is numbered A 11 (Ashtray number 1). As many Titian collectors will rightly point out, Titian numbers were almost always letters followed by three digits, and this leads some to question whether this one really is Titian. However, if you have a small Swordfish ashtray you will see that that was numbered A 12, putting the fantail ashtray in this range. It is however, much harder to find than the small swordfish.
The words "New Zealand" were inscribed in the mould and can be seen around the front rim of the dish.
  These are quite kitsch, but do evoke a folk arty, post war New Zealand like nothing else.

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