It’s almost upon us – the Platinum Jubilee – the oft-trumpeted and much anticipated celebration of Her Majesty the Queen’s accession to the throne in 1952, about which much ado is quite rightly being made.

Wonderful occasion though it may be, it is not of singular significance. We are – as a nation – well practised in the celebration of Royal occasions, be they engagements, marriages, births, coronations or sundry other rites of passage. All prompt the enthusiastic assembly of trestle tables, the festoonment of everything that doesn’t move away swiftly enough with bunting, and the brewing of tea on an industrial scale. The sector of industry – other than the media – being most willingly prompted to also shift in to overdrive is that concerned with the manufacture of souvenir goods and merchandise.

The production of such wares gathered pace after the restoration of the monarchy in the second half of the 17th century – in the wake of the English Civil War. It was the coronation of Charles II (1661) and his wedding to Katherine of Braganza the following year which led directly to the commissioning of commemorative plates and ‘souvenir’ glasses, albeit as part of very limited editions intended for presentation to the King himself, rather than for distribution to all and sundry – such finery was never intended for the general populace.

However, the die had been cast, and as industrialisation developed and (relative) mass-production became more viable, the subsequent feats of 18th century monarchs were celebrated by the fabrication of wares intended for more general consumption. Transfer-printed porcelain marked the coronation of George III in 1760, and many of the ‘big names’ in British pottery exploited later events to the full; the Doulton manufactory – for instance – is purported to have been granted the epithet ‘Royal Doulton’ by way of a warrant awarded on the back of the production of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee mugs ! Glass-makers took a little longer to clamber aboard the bandwagon. with the facility to mass-produce engraved tankards and goblets not really becoming financially viable until the Edwardian era, although there were still some very fine examples which were hand-finished - in far more limited numbers - during the reign of our current monarch’s great-great-grandmother.

Manufacturers in other sectors – unsurprisingly – also looked to grab their slice of the celebratory Victoria sponge – notably toy producers such as John Hill & Co, Lesney (Matchbox) and Britain’s – all of whom made models of the coronation coach used seventy years ago, and which are now eminently collectable.

Fortunately, down at the Pantiles Arcade, we have been able to assemble such a diverse collection of artefacts that we can offer pieces from all of these categories – glassware, porcelain and – with immediate effect from this coming weekend – the toys and models as mentioned above. These latter pieces are being made available courtesy of the propitious arrival of our most recent recruit – Mr Pete Redman of Hope And Glory Vintage Collectables. Pete will be situated front of house (in the former Tourist Information office) from Saturday 4th June, and will have a number of appropriately regal pieces available from the instant that he opens his doors.



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