BOSLEY POTTERY: A Glaze of Glory

Bread crock, made by T G & A G Bosley - Photo by Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences
MacRobertsons Freddo Frogs advertising statue – Photo by Shapiro Auctioneers

Bosley pottery is a South Australian Brand of Pottery popular for its production of figurines of animals like dogs, frogs, and the popular “Freddo Frogs – the advertising statue”, kangaroos, koalas, kookaburras, magpies, owls, penguins, pigeons, rabbits, squirrels, and swans. Other figurines included baskets, gnomes, platters, vases, and the phenomenal Bosley-Ware-Beethoven-Bust. His work was an outstanding work of brilliant glazing with bright colours, which was a trademark for him.

Brief History

Thomas George Dufty Bosley was born in 1867 to Thomas Bosely and Corah Dufty, around Adelaide, at Brompton village. He was the second born of three children – Eliza Bosley, Thomas George Bosley, and Annie Bosley (who died as a child). The names Thomas George Dufty Bosley was a combination of his father’s name (Thomas), his uncle’s name (George), his mother’s maiden name (Dufty), and his fathers’ surname (Bosley). He started making pottery when he was nine years old, following in the footsteps of his birth father, Thomas Bosley, and his uncle George Bosley who later became his stepfather.

Bosley Brothers

Bosley pottery gnome – Photo by Carter’s Price Guide to Antiques and Collectables

The Bosley brothers, Thomas Bosley and George Bosley, were both trained potters from Staffordshire Potteries in England. They travelled all the way from England as immigrants to South Australia to work. Thomas got to South Australia in 1866, while George got in a year before – 1865. On getting to South Australia, the work that was available to them was brickmaking, and so they became brickmakers until they had the opportunity to practice pottery again. They made bricks at Hindmarsh Pottery, and eventually got jobs as potters, making pottery, chimney pots, household items, and terracotta pipes.

George Bosley left Hindmarsh Pottery by 1890, having spent 25 years (1865 – 1890) making pottery and other items, as well as teaching how to make pottery. George was highly commended as an excellent teacher of pottery by his master at the School of Design where he taught for 6 years (1886 – 1892). By 1890, George retired from actively making pottery at Hindmarsh Pottery, and focused more on teaching wheelwork in how to make pottery, and engaged in pottery exhibitions; this he did for 2 years (1890 – 1892). In total, he spent 27 years (1865 – 1892) working as a potter and a teacher of pottery. George eventually died in 1892, leaving Thomas George Duft Bosley, his stepson, to take over the Bosley Brothers’ legacy.

His Career

Bosley Ware Beethoven bust – Photo by Davidson Auctions

Thomas George Dufty Bosley most definitely took in his fathers’ steps, starting his pottery career at age nine, as an apprentice at the Hindmarsh pottery, where his birth father and his uncle had worked for many years.

When Thomas George’s father Thomas Bosley, died, his uncle, George Bosley, married his mother Corah, and they had more children together. At the time, George Bosley had become a head potter at the Hindmarsh Pottery, and Thomas George at age nine became an apprentice with his new stepfather at the pottery, making arrays of colourfully glazed figurines, ornaments, platters, vessels, and many more, over many years. He was especially known for his work of glazed frogs, gnomes, and the glazed Beethoven Bust.

After his stepfather, George Bosley died, he journeyed to West Australia and started working at a brickyard. Thomas George worked at the brickyard in West Australia for 20 years, and then returned to his family home in South Australia in 1913. On his arrival, he started work in a big and successful brickyard called Eden Hills Brickyard. He managed the place, until it wound down as a result of the depression that hit in 1929.

Thomas George and his own son, who now worked with him, had little or nothing to fall back on for the period. Two years later, in 1931, Thomas George was able to buy a little quantity of pottery material from Hindmarsh Pottery where he formerly worked for many years. He, alongside his son, Alfred, and another potter settled to making vases, and other ornamental works. They took these works to a Sales Depot that was new at the time and sold them there. The Mayor of Adelaide, Lady Bonython, and her committee members asked Thomas George to make a variety of styles and colours. He made good sales at the depot and increased his production.

His success

By 1932, Thomas George started his own pottery in Mitcham, just at the garden behind his home, which he named “Bosley Ware Pottery”. He started making a wider variety of pottery including bread crocks, and the Lady Bonython patronized his work a lot.

Thomas George’s son, Alfred, began working for his father at the pottery. And by 1935, he started employing more hands. He then started making centenary souvenirs for the South Australian centenary coming up the following year – 1936. At that period, he had to employ more hands, and got six workers to support Alfred and him. By the next year, 1937, Thomas George built a house not far from the pottery. It was a bungalow, with his trademark of Bosley Green chimney pot, a whole lot of colourful glazed tiles, and air vents that were also made of colourful glazed tiles.

Eight years later, in 1945, Thomas George Duft Bosley died. The house was theirs up until 1977. In the event of his death, business at the pottery was not the same. The year after he died, 1946, a new pottery company was opened. It was called Mitcham Potteries Limited; the new pottery was run by Ron Bissett. The premises was made large, and it was doing very well, making up to 10,000 bread crocks every year. The Mitcham Potteries made their products in the name of Bosley Ware.

But by 1954, the Mitcham Potteries fought to keep afloat in business, and eventually stopped making ornamental wares. And the original Bosley pottery remained in production up until the year 1964, and eventually closed down as well, and its premises used the St. Vincent de Paul Opportunity Shop.