After a flying start with the King of Prussia commemoratives in the 1750s and a small flurry
of other worthies such as William Pitt, Shakespeare and George III appearing in the 1760s,
Worcester didn’t make any Commemorative porcelain for over 100 years, but from the late
19th century onwards a restricted range of items were made, many of them commissioned by
individuals or retailers.
The first Victorian commemoratives were a pair of plates marking the Golden Jubilee of
Queen Victoria in 1887. The plates were commissioned by the Mayor of Worcester, Walter
Holland to give away to local school children (pink for the girls and blue for boys). In 1902,
again Mayor, Walter Holland ordered a series of plates, this time 1683 coronation plates
for distribution to the ‘Old People’ of the City. In 1911 the Mayor of Worcester, Emanuel
‘Pumpy’ Thomas (manufacturer of Climax pumping machines) ordered 8,350 plates to
commemorate the Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary paying £22.16.8 per 1,000
for them. These were presented with great ceremony to Worcester School children.
In 1896 the Mayor of Worcester, the 7th Earl Beauchamp and his sister Lady Mary Lygon
ordered a Royal Worcester plate to mark their year as Mayor and Mayoress. The plates were
presented to all the children of Worcester’s church schools at a big party he held for them at
his family home, Madresfield Court, just outside Worcester. The Earl gave the children tea
and buns and provided swing boats and roundabouts to entertain them.
Very rich, hand painted pieces have also been produced starting with the magnificent
Imperial vase in 1902. At least seven of these vases were made to celebrate the accession of
Edward VII and Queen Alexander. Pellat’s, Aspreys and other top class retailers also
commissioned special commemoratives to mark important Royal Events. A wonderful rose
jar with a cover in the shape of a crown was issued in 1911, each hand painted by Harry Davis
or Raymond Rushton with a scene of Windsor castle.
Relief portraits have often featured as Worcester Commemoratives, an exquisite scent bottle
with a relief portrait of the Queen Victoria was designed in 1887 by Frederick Thorpe.
Madame Charol designed a relief plaque of Edward VIII to be issued as a Limited Edition
of 250, but production was cut short by the abdication in December 1936 and the plaque
is now rarely seen. Much more common are the very similar plaques of George VI and the
double portrait of George VI and Elizabeth, modelled by Richard Garbe RA For the Silver
Jubilee of 1977, Arnold Machin (designer of the British postage stamp and decimal coinage)
modelled a large scale portrait of Queen Elizabeth.
In more recent years a broader range of small items have been produced as collecting
commemoratives has become more popular. A whole range of pieces were made to mark the
wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 and to celebrate the Golden
Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2002, Royal Worcester produced a commemorative giftware
collection. The design was inspired by a rich Chinoiserie pattern created for the Prince of
Wales in 1807.
The images have been softened to appeal to today’s tastes but retain the flamboyant gold
decoration, which was so popular during the early 19th century. Eight items were included in
the range; 20cm and 27cm plates, mug, coffee cup and saucer, coaster, rectangular tray, china box
and a large limited edition Flight bowl. Plus a special limited edition of 750 pairs of Lion and
Unicorn candle snuffers.