Eric Knowles Eric Knowles, Antiquarian

Commemorative Mugs

Today you can expect to pay in the region of £10 or more for a 1953 Coronation mug, given as a freebie to most schoolchildren at that time. Should your parents have decided to go upmarket and spend the equivalent of £1 on a Wedgwood Coronation mug after a design by Eric Ravilious you can expect nearer £300. When it comes to collecting any type of commemorative the maker is usually of great importance and big names often show a good return in later years.

There was a time when possession of any object that might be seen as carrying a Royal sentiment could have landed you in serious trouble. Thankfully Oliver Cromwell is long gone. The image of King Charles the First and his son Charles the Second turns up on a few extremely rare tinglaze mugs, prices start at £5,000. Up until the mid 18th century all commemorative mugs were hand painted,however the invention of printing on pottery allowed for mass production.

As a result of such pots being available in large quantities the image of King George the Third soon became known to far more of his subjects. Consequently a collector is able to put together a selection of mugs that chronicle the most significant events of the King's 60 year reign. Perhaps the most poignant are the mugs that celebrate the return of the monarchs mental health selling for about £400, depending on condition, Physical not mental.

The reigns of his two sons George the Fourth and William the Fourth saw mugs to commemorate both their Coronations and deaths. Values are in the £300 plus bracket. However the monarchs were by no means the only subjects to gain the attention of the potters. Heroes such as Nelson and Wellington were eagerly received. A Nelson blue printed mug might normally find a buyer at £400 but this year being the Bicentenary of his death has already seen prices escalate.

For the new collector the reign of Queen Victoria spanning the years 1836 to 1901 offers the most opportunities with prices starting at £20. 1837 Coronation mugs have been the subject of debate amongst collectors as to wether they were made in Staffordshire or South Wales. One thing is for certain should you decide you want one for your collection be prepared to fork out £800 of your hard earned cash.

Fortunately Queen Vic's 1887 "Golden" Jubilee and the "Diamond" that followed in 1897 are invariably easier on the wallet. A top maker such as Doulton produced Jubilee bone china mugs in several colourways with price tags of about £120 for a clean example. Earthenware Jubilee mugs by lesser known makers can regularly be found for £30 and less although sometimes the Queen's image would not have her amused.

The advent of the new century saw more in the way of Coronation mugs for Edward the Seventh, George the Fifth, Edward the Eighth, George the Sixth and our present Queen. The vast majority can be tracked down at prices that start at £10 through to £40 and yes that includes Edward the Eighth, the king who was never crowned. Other mugs to consider are those that recall the grim years of the First World War. Once again prices are usually in the £30 to £60 bracket.

In more recent years subject matter has included our Queens two Jubilees but more importantly her childrens Royal weddings. Jean Watson has been in touch regarding her Charles and Diana Bone china mug by Caverswall for which she originally paid the sum of £6. Today you could expect to part with nearer £25. Caverswall is a respected maker other mugs are nearer £10. Given the choice my money would have to go on the 1953 Ravilious mug for three reasons. First a great designer, second a top maker and three that was the year I was born. "God Save The Queen".


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