Beautiful Vintage Salt and Pepper Shakers

Click image for a larger view. Source: Black Country Museums.

I just had to stop my client work to share this wonderful design with you. While researching for some antique kitchenware, I stumbled upon this Gaydon salt & pepper pots by A.H Woodfull for British Industrial Plastics.

The sensual curved body, simple unadorned openings and the contrast between the natural Melamine yellow resin color and the black base makes this a beautiful design. This is also industrial design at its best, as not only is the form fully drafted for injection molding (that was what really turned me on!), no identifying labels or graphics are required as the holes communicate the contents of each shaker clearly.

If you are interested, Wikipedia lists the designer A.H. Woodfull as:

Albert Henry “Woody” Woodfull (born 1912) is a retired English product designer. Laying down many of the ground rules of industrial design in plastics while heading British Industrial Plastics’ Product Design Unit, his work has had international influence.

Woodfull was born in Birmingham and trained as a silversmith at the Vittoria Street School of Jewellery and Silversmithing before studying product design at the Birmingham School of Art. In 1934 he was appointed to British Industrial Plastics (BIP) as a product designer at their Streetly factory. His brief from the managing director was to “bring art to an artless industry”, and his early work was largely in packaging, where designs such as his Ardath Cigarette Box of 1935 showed strong Art Deco influences and have become highly collectable.

After World War II he produced notable promotional material for Cadbury’s,[6] but increasingly focussed on tableware, designing the classic Beetleware range in urea formaldehyde in 1946.
Woodfull visited the United States in 1948 to investigate the newly developed melamine formaldehyde material, whose greater water resistance was to lead it to briefly threaten ceramics as the dominant material in tableware.

In 1951 Woodfull was appointed to head BIP’s newly-formed Product Design Unit, where he was to remain until his retirement in 1970. As well as developing designs for BIP itself, the unit’s Design Advisory Service aimed to provide design consultancy to companies developing products in plastics, with the aim of improving the public’s perception of the quality of plastic products and increasing demand for BIP’s materials. As a result Woodfull and the team he built up were responsible to some degree for most of the designs for tableware in melamine that developed in the 1950s and 1960s, including the Gaydon and Melaware ranges that are now recognised as being among the pinnacles of 1960s plastics design.

What a fascinating look at the history of Industrial Design! I have to go and hunt for a pair of these shakers for myself as soon as possible.

  • Oliver

    October 27, 2012 at 6:57 am Reply

    That is my great-grandad. I used to call him tom but he died last year at 98. Thanks for the nice comments. He was a truly inspirationla man.

  • Alan

    February 29, 2012 at 5:17 am Reply

    Love them! Remember mum and dad had a set. I just found a pair here (UK) in vivid orange and in mint condition! Thanks for filling in the history for me. Oh -and they still serve their purpose well.

  • Justin Moore-Brown

    April 7, 2011 at 4:16 am Reply

    Less really is more and these shakers are a beautiful example.

  • Gina

    April 6, 2011 at 8:32 am Reply

    You can bet ..ill die for some too!..GREAT DESIGN and even better history.Thanks

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