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Commemorative Items

Commemorative items have been produced for centuries to celebrate landmark events...

11/12/2023     Blog

I recently visited a property where the owner was a great Royalist and every cupboard and surface was covered in ceramic mugs, plates, vases  etc. mainly depicting her favourite Royal Princess Diana.

As you will know modern commemorative items are made in vast numbers and although it’s a lovely hobby to collect items like this they do not as a rule fetch a great at auction.

Commemorative items have been produced for centuries to celebrate landmark events whether it be a Royal, political or sporting occasion either on a National or local level.

The coronation of Charles II in 1661 is considered to be the first Royal event that was celebrated on a piece of china but these early pieces are rarely seen today outside of museums. The advent of transfer printing on pottery during the Industrial Revolution saw the mass production of commemorative wares especially for the coronation of George III in 1760. The Industrial Revolution heralded a huge progression in living standards which in turn fuelled the country’s desire for Royal Souvenirs.

Every Royal event has from this time on has been commemorated in ceramics and glassware. The earliest examples are of course the most sought after at auction especially those pre Queen Victoria.

If you prefer more modern pieces why not collect a particular factory such as Royal Doulton. Many stoneware pottery examples can easily be found dating back to the reign of Edward VII who ascended to the throne in 1901 and are brightly decorated in shades of blue, brown and green.

A Photograph of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, signed and dated 1985 in ink underneath, presented in a green leather photograph frame with feather crest by Wallace Heaton of Bond Street (These were presented to Duchy tenants); British High Commission Kuala Lumpur luncheon invitation, Ronald W. Reagan Inauguration Day envelope, signed (unverified), Princess Grace of Monaco signed (unverified) commemorating marriage envelope, etc.

Sold for £1,300 (plus 24% buyer's premium) in our Antique & Fine Art Auction on Friday 8th December 2023!

My favourite pieces are by the British painter and illustrator Eric Ravilious (1903-1940) who started a working relationship with Josiah Wedgwood and Sons in 1936. Following Edward VIII abdication in December 1936 Eric’s design was revised and re formulated to celebrate the coronation of George VI in 1937 and Elizabeth II in 1952. These are all very sought after at auction and can fetch several hundred pounds at auction.

Another of my favourite pieces were designed by the painted Dame Laura Knight (1877-1970). She designed a mug for the coronations of Edward VII and George VI. The later is often referred to as the circus design as along with George and the dragon an elephant is also part of the colourful design.

If you prefer to collect other commemorate items Royal signatures are always popular and can fetch a few hundred pounds or stools from Royal coronations or from the investiture of the Prince of Wales in 1969 do come up for sale and make a real talking point in your home.

Another area is shipping or Titanic memorabilia which is highly collected such a posters, uniforms, letters etc. A collection of items from a Titanic survivor Margaret “Molly” Brown  including a White Star line blanket from the ship amongst other things fetched an amazing £70,000 at auction last year.

Political events are another highly collected area of commemorative items and one that I am particularly interested in. I remember buying in the early 1980’s the Spitting images satirical  teapot of Margaret Thatcher which were just decorated in a white glaze and how can fetch around £100 but sadly I no longer have mine!