FLORENZ POTTERY: A Homemade Legacy

Florenz Pottery gumleaf bowl - Photo by Canberra Antiques Centre
impressed Florenz signature to base of vase – Photo by The Merchant of Welby Pty Ltd

Florence Maude Williams (née Mills) began her works of pottery in an old stable (or garage as she called it) in Marrickville, Sydney, Australia. Florence Maude Mills was born in 1894, in Perth, Western Australia. Her parents were John Brier Mills (father), and her mother Mary Blanche Mills. Together with her parents and siblings, Arthur and Mary, Florenz lived in Claremont. John Brier Mills, her father, was a Major in the Artillery and died of wounds received in a battle at Gallipoli in 1915.

Florence married George Robert Bertie Williams in 1916. George was a draughtsman turned artillery officer. The couple then moved to 20 Dudley Street in Haberfield, an inner western suburb of Sydney. They had 3 children; Joan, Marie, and George.

Education and Enterprise

Florenz Boot Ashtray – Photo by Branch 3D

Florence studied pottery in Sidney and right after, began her pottery work in a garage. The Florenz Pottery Pty Ltd was established in 1934 in the same garage located at Marrickville. The garage is still home to many of her great potteries, such as Fowler, Studio Anna, and Diana. It was a family business.

Her husband, George the technician, built an oil-fired kiln, quite different from the traditional coal-fired ones used by most other potteries at the time. Marie, their daughter, also worked at the pottery. In the few years that followed, Florence experimented the production of Dresden-like figurines using firing lace until it was perfected.

WWII and Post War Pottery

Lidded jar, Florenz Pottery – Photo by Australian Pottery at Bemboka

Florenz and other pottery companies during the Second World War gained government contracts to produce porcelain insulators for radar and other war-related works within their scope. Wartime restrictions only allowed the production of utilitarian pottery and as such, so little decorative ware is found around the time.

The post-war period necessitated Florenz and her fifteen employees to begin making resistance blocks for electric stoves, which were purchased by the New South Wales Housing Commission. They also produced insulators for the power industry. Ceramic insulators are very vital electrical equipment used to support and separate electrical conductors while avoiding the current passing through them.

Raising of other Great Potters

The company went into a voluntary liquidation in 1942, a common and legal business practice, and at the same time, recommenced immediately at the same site under the name Florenz Potteries (000 164 214). The couple then lived at a property on the corner of Robinson Crescent while the pottery was located at 313 Illawarra Road Marrickville, which is now the site of the “Good One” Vietnamese Barbeque (eat in or take away). The company made all kinds of hand-thrown and slip cast ceramics, as well as hospital and laboratory porcelain. The Florenz Pottery came with many different marks over the years, which included paper labels, printed underglaze stamps, and versions of the name “Florenz” incised on the product.

four slip cast ceramic dishes and a vase, Florenz Pottery – Photo by Antiques Reporter

Florenz raised many well-known potters, some of which are Harry Memmot, Andrew Halford, Lino Alvarez, and Diogenes Farri.


Florenz died on the 18th of September, 1948. In 1951, three years after, her husband sold the pottery to Johann Harves, Max Archer, and Mr. Pitcher.

In 1962 they relocated the pottery to 36 Chard Road, Brookvale. The company experienced several management changes over the following eighteen years, with Harves (who was a German immigrant after the WWII) at the head of the management until its closure in 1980.