The Washington Post

Souvenir sales soar after monarch’s death, but rise in value takes time

- BY JACLYN PEISER

Lambert of London, a gift shop less than a mile northeast of Buckingham Palace, will be out of Queen Elizabeth II souvenirs by the weekend.

“We had a whole burst of online orders last night, and a lot of stuff has gone out the door today,” Michael Blumberg, an employee, told The Washington Post in a phone interview Friday. “We didn’t expect her majesty to leave us, so it’ ll be a week or so before the new stock arrives.”

Major events surroundin­g the royal family often lead to surges in sales for everything from tchotchkes to fine china and gold coins. Jubilees, in particular, are worth millions in memorabili­a sales. For the queen’s recent platinum celebratio­n, the Center for Retail Research found that spending on souvenirs, memorabili­a and gifts reached over 281 million pounds, or more than $326 million.

But marking of the end of the longest reign by a British monarch opens up new opportunit­ies for retailers and buyers, experts say. And for those who have collected rare items over the years, her death marks the start of those items’ expected rise in value.

Tchotchkes and rare collectibl­es of the queen won’t immediatel­y increase in value, according to Antony Charman, a founder of Vintage Trading Solutions. His company often buys rare items from people who were left antiques or collectibl­es by deceased relatives. It’s an investment that pays off as time goes by and items become rarer.

“Collection is a long game,” he said. “It’s going to be a number of years before they actually do become worth money. They haven’t become worth more money because the queen has died and overnight they’ve gone up in price.”

Value is also determined by quality and rarity, experts say. A china tea set commemorat­ing one of the queen’s jubilees that was mass-produced won’t be worth much. But limited-edition items — where maybe only 100 were produced — will eventually sell for more.

“It would mainly be items made of probably gold or silver — that have an intrinsic value for their metal weight — that you would see kind of uplift in their value now that the queen is gone,” Charman said, pointing to limited-edition gold coins and elaborate platters decorated with the monarch’s profile.

But recency bias could cause a short-lived spike in value, he added. Charman guessed that if he held an auction, selling the company’s collection of rare items such as postage stamps and china commemorat­ing the queen’s coronation, he could probably make more money on them now than waiting about three months because people are feeling nostalgic or sentimenta­l immediatel­y after the queen’s death.

Even though the majority of tchotchkes and souvenirs may not be worth much, consumers’ desire to commemorat­e the queen through tea towels, bobble heads and mugs will continue in the weeks after her death, experts predict. And the trend is likely to be internatio­nal.

“I think there will be an enormous surge of interest because she is the longest-serving monarch in all of Britain’s history,” said Martin Cribbs, the vice president for brand management at Beanstalk, a global licensing agency.

James Constantin­ou, the managing director of Prestige Pawn Brokers, added that souvenir manufactur­ers and the official royal gift shop — which temporaril­y shut down its website moments after the announceme­nt of the queen’s death — probably will soon sell collectibl­e items marking her passing. And there may continue to be a rush from consumers to buy souvenirs commemorat­ing the queen as manufactur­ers phase out items with her likeness to make room for ones of her son King Charles III.

The staff at Lambert of London hasn’t yet placed orders for items celebratin­g the new king.

“Thousands of people will be around for the funeral and the coronation,” Blumberg said. “We may be in with new stock, but we may not. You can’t plan for these things, unfortunat­ely.”

 ?? Jeff J MITCHELL/GETTY IMAGES ?? Memorabili­a on display at the Royal Yacht Britannia for the queen’s Diamond Jubilee in May 2012 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Jeff J MITCHELL/GETTY IMAGES Memorabili­a on display at the Royal Yacht Britannia for the queen’s Diamond Jubilee in May 2012 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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