WITH the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle just around the corner, a new display at Portland Basin Museum takes a look at how Royal weddings, coronations and jubilees have been celebrated through ceramics, medals ● and other collectibles.
The first royal commemorative item ever produced is believed to have been a mug manufactured in 1660 for the coronation of Charles II.
It was another 100 years before items were produced to mark the occasion of George II’s coronation in 1761.
Before the Victorian era commemorative ceramics were produced in low numbers. By the time of Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 the industry had boomed thanks to several factors.
The growth of the middle classes during the nineteenth century meant there was a large market for decorative ceramics, alongside an increased respect for the monarchy. Advances in the production of creamware pottery and transfer printing enabled factories to meet this demand.
The towns of Tameside often produced their own souvenirs. Medals for coronations and jubilees, especially the coronations of Edward VII in 1902, George V in 1911 and George VI in 1937, were extremely popular.
Edward VIII reigned for just 326 days before abdicating in 1936. His coronation was scheduled for May 12, 1937 but never took place. Souvenir mugs and plates, produced well in advance, still commemorate the coronation that never was.
More recent commemoratives, especially for the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, have been more ‘fun’ and less conventional – ‘dress up dolly books’ and face masks, for example.
The wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry on May 19 has already generated a wealth of commemorative items from dolls to ceramics, tea towels to bookmarks and fridge magnets.
Portland Basin Museum is open from 10am to 4pm Tuesday to Sunday, entry is free.
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Royal commemorative items at Portland Basin Museum