Royal Copenhagen

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Royal Copenhagen
Type Porcelain Manufacturer
Founded 1 May 1775
Headquarters Denmark, Copenhagen
Parent Fiskars
Website Royal Copenhagen

Royal Copenhagen, officially the Royal Porcelain Factory (Danish: Den Kongelige Porcelænsfabrik) is a manufacturer of porcelain products and was founded in Copenhagen 1 May 1775 under the protection of Queen Juliane Marie. It is recognized by its factory mark, the three wavy lines above each other, symbolizing Denmark’s three straits: Øresund, the Great Belt and the Little Belt.[1]

Early years[edit]

Royal Porcelain manufactory in Copenhagen (19th century)

Starting in the 17th century, Europeans were fascinated by the blue and white and white porcelain exported from China during the Ming and Qing dynasties,[2] but Danes had to discover for themselves how to produce the "white gold" (white glaze) that they found so irresistible about porcelain.

The Royal Copenhagen manufactory operations began in a converted post office in 1775. It was founded by a chemist, Frantz Heinrich Müller, who was given a 50-year monopoly to create porcelain. The first pieces manufactured were dining services for the royal family.[3] When, in 1779, King Christian VII assumed financial responsibility, the manufactory was styled the Royal Porcelain Factory. In 1790, Royal Copenhagen brought out its now famous Flora Danica ‘Blue Fluted’ dinner service, with gilded edge and Danish flora motifs,[4] and Royal Copenhagen held a monopoly on the "Blue Fluted" name.[5]

By 1851, Royal Copenhagen qualified for the World Expo in London. In 1868, as a result of royal companies' privatization, the Royal Porcelain Factory came into private hands. It was purchased by the faience factory Aluminia in 1882. Shortly after Aluminia's acquisition, Royal Copenhagen production was moved to a modern factory building at Aluminia’s site in Frederiksberg, on the outskirts of Copenhagen. By 1889, Royal Copenhagen qualified for the World Expo in Paris, winning the Grand Prix, giving it international exposure.

Current company[edit]

In recent years, Royal Copenhagen acquired Georg Jensen in 1972, incorporated with Holmegaard Glass Factory in 1985, and finally Bing & Grøndahl in 1987. Royal Copenhagen was a part of a group of Scandinavian companies, Royal Scandinavia, together with Georg Jensen, and was owned by the Danish private equity fund, Axcel. Following Axcel's acquisition of Royal Scandinavia, Holmegaard Glasværk was sold in a MBO and a controlling interest in the Swedish glass works Orrefors Kosta Boda was sold to New Wave Group. In April 2008 it was reported that Royal Copenhagen was moving nearly all of its production to Thailand.[6] In December 2012 Axcel has sold Royal Copenhagen to the Finnish listed company Fiskars, which was founded in 1649.[7]

Patterns (original manufacturer in parentheses)[edit]

Seagull dinnerware, designed by Fanny Garde of Bing & Grøndahl in 1895
"Blue Fluted" pattern dinner service

Most famous[edit]

New[edit]

  • Black Mega, Palmette, White Plain, White Half Lace, White Full Lace, Blue Flower Curved and Plain, White Pot, Blue Line, the new Christmas service Star Fluted, and Ole.[8]

Discontinued[edit]

  • Gemina, Gemma, Jingle Bells, and Julian Marie (Royal Copenhagen)
  • Seagull, Blue Henning Koppel, White Henning Koppel, Tema, Mexico (Bing & Grøndahl)

Collectibles[edit]

  • Royal Copenhagen 2010 plaquettes: Numbered and named faience plates depicted a variety of scenes, holidays, years, and occasions. Most commonly round, they measured about 8 cm (3-1/4") in diameter, with a blue scene on white background.
  • Larger, approximately 7-1/4", blue on white faience plates, created annually for Mother's Day, the Olympics, and other commemorations. Some weren't annual issues, instead depicted scenes. In 1895, Royal Copenhagen began producing annual Christmas plates, still in production today [1]
  • Porcelein pipes, beginning in 1969 and manufactured for about 15 years.

Christmas Plates[edit]

The tradition of Christmas plates started hundreds of years ago in Europe, when wealthy people presented their servants with cookies and candies, served on decorative plates of wood or metal at Christmas time. The servants referred to these gifts as their Christmas Plate. In 1895 Bing & Grøndahl produced the first Christmas plate made from porcelain, with the date inscribed, and has made one each year since. In 1908 the Royal Copenhagen factory followed suit. Each year these plates are made in limited quantities and have been a highly prized commodity for over 100 years. Each plate is made in the year of issue only, after which the mold is destroyed, and the plate never made again.[9]

The themes since 1908 are:[10]

Year Christmas Plate Notes
1908 Madonna & Child
1909 Danish Landscape
1910 The Magi
1911 Thief Plate
1911 Landscape
1912 Christmas Tree
1913 Frederiks Kirke Frederik's Church
1914 Helligåndskirken Church of the Holy Ghost
1915 Danish Landscape
1916 Shepherds in the Field
1917 Vor Frelsers Kirke Church of Our Saviour, Christianshavn
1918 The Shepherds
1919 In The Park
1920 Mary & Child
1921 Aabenraa Market
1922 Three Singing Angels
1923 Landscape
1924 Sailing Ship
1925 Christianshavn
1926 Christianshavns Kanal
1927 Ship's Boy at Tiller
1928 Vicar's Family
1929 Grundtvigs Kirke Grundtvig's Church
1930 Fishing Boats
1931 Mother & Child
1932 Frederiksberg
1933 Storebæltsfærgerne Great Belt ferries
1934 Eremitageslottet The Hermitage Palace
1935 Kronborg
1936 Roskilde Domkirke Roskilde Cathedral
1937 Copenhagen
1938 Round Church
1939 Ship on Greenland Ice
1940 The Good Shepherd
1941 Village Church
1942 Bell Tower
1943 Flight Into Egypt
1944 Winter Scene
1945 Peaceful Motif
1946 Zealand Church
1947 The Good Shepherd
1948 Nødebo Kirke Nødebo Church
1949 Vor Frue Kirke Church of Our Lady
1950 Boeslunde Church
1951 Christmas Angel
1952 Christmas In The Forest
1953 Frederiksberg
1954 Amalienborg
1955 Fano Girl
1956 Rosenborg Slot Rosenborg Castle
1957 The Good Shepherd
1958 Grønland Greenland
1959 Christmas Night
1960 The Stag
1961 Training Ship Denmark
1962 Den lille havfrue The Little Mermaid
1963 Hojsager Mill
1964 Fetching The Tree
1965 Little Skaters
1966 The Blackbird At Christmas
1967 The Royal Oak
1968 The Last Umiak
1969 Old Farmyard
1970 Christmas Rose & Cat
1971 Hare In Winter
1972 In The Desert
1973 Train Homeward Bound
1974 Owl
1975 Marselisborg Slot Marselisborg Palace
1976 Vibaek Mill
1977 Immervad Bridge
1978 Greenland Scene
1979 Choosing The Tree
1980 Bringing Home The Tree
1981 Admiring The Tree
1982 Waiting For Christmas
1983 Merry Christmas
1984 Jingle Bells
1985 The Snowman
1986 Christmas Holidays
1987 Winter Birds
1988 Copenhagen Skyline
1989 Old Skating Pond
1990 Tivoli Gardens
1991 Santa Lucia Fest
1992 The Royal Coach
1993 Arriving Train
1994 Home From Shopping
1995 The Manor House
1996 Street Lamps
1997 Roskilde Domkirke Roskilde Cathedral
1998 Boat Scene
1999 The Sleigh Ride
2000 Trimming The Tree
2001 Watching The Birds
2002 Winter In The Forest
2003 Seasons Greetings
2004 Awaiting The Christmas Train
2005 Hans Christian Andersen House
2006 Kronborg
2007 Christmas in Nyhavn
2008 Copenhagen Christmas
2009 Christmas at Amagertorv Amager Square
2010 Christmas in Greenland
2011 Waiting For Santa Claus
2012 Sailing The North Sea
2013 Copenhagen Harbour
2014 Hans Christian Andersen

Further reading[edit]

  • Bojesen, Benedicte, and Steen Nottelmann. Royal Copenhagen Art, Industry. Lyngby: Sophienholm, 1996. ISBN 87-87883-57-0
  • Christoffersen, Lars. Christmas Plates & Other Commemoratives from Royal Copenhagen and Bing & Grøndahl. A Schiffer book for collectors. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Pub, 2004. ISBN 0-7643-2089-0 Table of contents
  • Heritage, Robert J. Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Animals and Figurines. A Schiffer book for collectors. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Pub, 1997. ISBN 0-7643-0101-2
  • Kongelige Porcelainsfabrik, Bredo L. Grandjean, Dyveke Helsted, and Merete Bodelsen. The Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Manufactory 1775-1975. Copenhagen: The Manufactory, [eksp., Amagertorv 6], 1975. ISBN 87-980342-1-9
  • Pope, Caroline, and Nick Pope. A Collector's Guide to Royal Copenhagen Porcelain. A Schiffer book for collectors. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 2001. ISBN 0-7643-1386-X
  • Wagner, Peter, Steen Nottelmann, Finn Andersen, and Paul Nesbitt. Flora Danica. Edinburgh: Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, 1994. ISBN 0-9523869-0-9
  • Winstone, H. V. F. Royal Copenhagen. [London]: Stacey International, 1984. ISBN 0-905743-37-7

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Royal Copenhagen at Wikimedia Commons

See also[edit]