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A Royal flush.

Byline: Bargain Hunter

THE Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations take centre stage this weekend and a range of commemoratives are in the shops to mark the event. Our Queen, however, is not the first British monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. In 1897, Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee led to widespread celebrations and to the production of a number of commemorative wares like those shown here.

In fact, rather fewer commemoratives appeared in 1897 than had been produced 10 years previously on the occasion of Victoria's Golden Jubilee when ceramics in particular had been made in considerable quantities, some being distributed free to schoolchildren by town councils, charities and institutions.

The commonest royal commemorative items are usually mugs, cups and plates. The Staffordshire wall plaque pictured here is slightly rarer and therefore of greater interest to collectors. Similar plaques in Sunderland lustre are more collectable still.

The pressed glass dish with the reverse portrait painted in gold was made by Sowerby's, one of the principal British producers of pressed glass. This company was founded by the Sowerby family who had been making glass since the 1760s. With the advent of pressed glass in the 19th century, Sowerby's expanded massively, moving to new premises in Gateshead in the 1850s.

The mass production of pressed glass began in England in the 1830s just in time for Queen Victoria's coronation, which occasioned the first pressed glass royal commemorative pieces. For her Golden Jubilee more than 100 different pressed glass items were made, including plates, dishes, jugs, beakers, baskets, candlesticks and even photograph frames.

The designs, as in the dish shown here, were mainly achieved using a new impressed dot technique which made them stand out more than the methods previously used on hand-blown glass. The use of cold-painted gilding was particular to Sowerby's. While it certainly makes the bust of Victoria easier to see, the fact that it isn't fired on means that it can wear off quite easily. Soon afterwards, this technique became popular in America and led to the creation of what is known as goofus glass - pressed glass with cold-painted decoration.

Both these items came from local charity shops. Twentieth century royal commemoratives, especially ceramics, are common finds in charity shops and are generally cheap, but you come across 19th century examples far less frequently.

Having said that, neither of these is in perfect condition and they're only worth around pounds 15-pounds 20 apiece. However, the two cost a modest pounds 5.


* Commemorative plaque, above, and pressed glass dish, right
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 2, 2012
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