When you here the word Barsony in Australia, they are usually referred to as black lady lamps. Some are purely attractive while others were used as ashtrays or flower vase. The most popular are those that come with the original lamp shades in genuine retro colours pink, yellow, red or aqua, usually contrasted with black. For the enthusiast of retro pieces, the name Barsony is well recognised.
The company Barsony Ceramics was in full operation in during 1950’s to the 1970’s in Guildford western Sydney, New South Wales. George Barsony was a sculptor who moved to Australia from his home country of Hungary in 1949, and built his business with his wife Jean. Not a lot is known of the history of the company, which found a niche in the ornamental market and, seemingly, made a killing in the 1950s and 1960s. Judging by the quanity still around today, the firm was churning them out in the thousands.
Barsony Ceramics also made items under the Venice and Silver Cloud, sometimes you may find a Black Lady stamped Silver Cloud. Barsony manufactured many forms of day to day decor items, which included lamps and lamp bases, candlesticks, figurines, ashtrays, wall hangings, bookends, figure vases, bowls etc. The occasional item from this genre have been found with "Made in England" stickers, though it appears this was pretty much an Australian product. Certainly, anything with an undamaged Barsony label is given a premium price in here.
Barsony used prefix stampings on their items, for example, F, FL, GL, H, HL, L, U, T, V, followed by a number. The letter stamping identified the type of item e.g. H stood for head , HL stood for head lamp, V meant vase, F for figurine, FL meant figurine lamp etc. Usually the pieces are stamped on the base and intermittently are companied with a Barsony Ceramics sticker.
Barsony Black Lady figures have a soft, gentle roundness on all features. Facial features are never prominent, with lips glowing in red and sometimes subtle colour painted to the eyes. Breasts are always quite round, not pointed, and the same with heads. The distinctive feature of Barsony Black Ladies is the beautiful lively coloured paint to imply garments and other floral designs.
In the present boom, some of these lamps have sold for as much as $1000. Even dealers think this is over the top and suggest $500 to $600 is about the maxium for even the finest pieces.
It appears the name of these Australia icons has spread around the world. So if you find one of these beautiful pieces in a your parents or grandparents home, and it comes your way, it maybe worth its weight in gold someday.