Discover Vintage America - JULY 2018

Buy royal commemoratives for love not value

Q: I want to buy something to commemorate the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle. The things to buy range from cups all the way to dolls and dinnerware. I want to buy something that will go up in price or retain the value of what I pay. Can you give me some direction on this please? Thank you.


A:  I am right there with you; I love the fairy tale of the now Duke and Duchess of Sussex. I could go on for days about all that was perfect and unique to royal weddings on their special day. When Diana and Charles got married I was at the TV by 2:00 am, my mother and I watched the entire festivities while on the phone with each other. We did the same when Diana was buried.

When it comes to royalty, almost every major event is captured on a cup, plate, bell, spoon, thimble, doll, magazine cover, paper dolls, tea tin, coloring book and much more. The events that are commemorated are coronations, weddings, birthdays, birth and death. I am probably leaving out a few events but you get the just and scope.


I am addressing only the British royal family as they are the most popular. The first known British royalty commemorative was made in 1547. This would have been for Edward VI who was crowned as king of England at the age of 9. The commemorative items for King Edward VI would have been coins or medals. These are difficult to find and many reproductions have been made over the years so do some research if this particular piece is on your list. These are so rare I could not find any public sales going back 10 years. Pieces produced before the late 1800s are rare and hard to find.

Mass production of commemorative items started in 1887 for Queen Victoria's golden jubilee. It was repeated in 1897 for her diamond jubilee. Items bearing these dates were the first commemorative pieces made in quantity and are the oldest that one can hope to obtain.

Commemoratives of Edward VIII's coronation are not hard to find at all as he was never coronated. He  gave up his right to the crown to marry his true love, who happened to be a commoner, Wallis Simpson. These were made in large quantity and many were sold before he abdicated the crown, they are fun to find and should not cost over $20. If you find a commemorative piece for Edward III you might want to keep an eye out for George VI his brother. The dates are the same only the name and image are different.

Another bonus to collecting royal commemoratives is that most were made by the best potteries in the UK such as Minton, Wedgwood, and Royal Doulton. So you are getting a quality piece of china with the royal tie in.

In answer to your question, buy what you love. All of the commemorative items are mass produced so the chance of any of them going up in value is slim. If it speaks to you, snap it up and never look back. You can focus on cups and saucers, tumblers, loving cups (2 handles), plates with photographs or go a bit upscale with the beautiful monogram pieces. The prices are affordable and your only limit is space.


I will close with a personal story. After Princess Diana died I purchased a plate with a beautiful image of her on it. It came from one of the companies that has an insert in magazines. I lovingly put my plate on display on our entertainment center. My husband and youngest daughter were sitting in the living room tossing a small ball to one of the dogs, I spoke up and asked them to stop before my new plate got hit. Of course they continued, the ball rolled over to me and I lobbed it for the dog. I hit that plate dead center and little shards of porcelain went everywhere. It was like a crime scene, I had the area blocked off to insure that I picked up all the tiny bits. A week later I had my beautiful Diana plate pieced back together and now she is safely kept in the china cabinet. Needless to say, this is one story that is told often by my husband.

God Save the Queen!

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Thank you to BradEx and my friend Cynthia for photographs


Note: All prices given are for sale in a private sale, antique shop or other resale outlet. Price is also dependent upon the geographic area in which you are selling. Auction value, selling to a dealer or pawnshop prices are about half or less of resale value.

Michelle Staley is a Lenexa, KS-based dealer and researcher with 35 years of experience in the antique trade. Send questions with photos to Michelle to Please keep queries to one question; questions without photos of the item may not be answered. Michelle is also available for consulting and extensive research work beyond this column. If you would like an appraisal on an antique or collectible please go to for a one-on-one appraisal.