Royal Christmas plates
Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates - Danish Blue Porcelain Christmas Plates as Wall decoration
Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates
Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates are some of the most famous blue Christmas wall plates and collectibles in the world.
The first Royal Copenhagen Christmas wall plate was issued in a tiny edition in 1908 to test the interest. The Christmas plate was warmly received and since thena Christmas plate have continuously been produced every year. The Royal Christmas plates are distinctive, because of their famous blue and recognizable spruce branch, which surrounds the motif of all Christmas plates almost from the beginning.
The spruce edge, as we know it from Christmas plates today, have been the same on all of the decorative Christmas wall plates since 1941, but experiments with edges have been done much earlier. Already on the Christmas plate from 1909, there is an edge consisting of summer flowers and angels. In 1911, we have a real spruce branches with cones and in 1915 we see the edge as it looks today.
Actually there was experimentation with different edges up through the 1920's and in the 1930's the edge takes more and more shape, and in 1941 we have the same edge as the one we know today.
In the 1960's and 1970's there were Royal Christmas wall plates in almost every Danish home. Either as decoration on the walls or savings in the attic. Unfortunately the interest in the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates decreased in the following years and these years does not have the same high commercial value as some of the others.
In 1987 the Royal Porcelain Factory merged with Bing & Grondahl porcelain factory and thus arose the name Royal Copenhagen in Denmark. Abroad the Royal Danish Christmas wall plates have always been known as Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates.
Today the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates are also used as dishes for Christmas parties, dessert plates for rice pudding or cake plates for your festivities. The Christmas plates are of course still hung up on the wall, as they have always been, but today they have multiple uses. If you cover your Christmas table with a white, red or blue tablecloth the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates fit beautifully. Along with white porcelain, they provide a beautiful contrast to the main tableware and is a beautiful reminder of tradition and Christmas through the ages, which has been a central part of our consciousness around Christmas.
The Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates started later than Bing and Grondahl's, but they are more famous around the world today. The plates are perfect decorations for both wall and table and with these old blue Christmas plates you can be sure to set a Christmas table that will amaze and amuse your friends. If you serve on the plate the motif will slowly emerge as the food is eaten revealing the wonderful image below in a slow fashion piece by piece giving the whole seance and extra dimension. This is especially true, if you have a set of plates with different images on them. Then every guest will have his or her own unique motif, when finished eating and if combined with the Christmas cups and saucers the whole thing could get an extra dimension. If there are to be played any games the serving of the food directly on the plate with the motif hidden and not matched to the cup and saucer makes for a great way of pairing of in groups, where the person with the plate motif is matched to the one with the cup motif.
In combination with the Royal Copenhagen Christmas cups, you can set a unique coffee table. In 1979 Royal Copenhagen started the tradition of making a Christmas cup and saucer with the same motif as the Christmas plate of the year. It gives you the possibility of setting a coffee table with the Royal Copenhagen Christmas Service, together with a coffee pot, sugar bowl, creamer and candlesticks.
Royal Copenhagen Christmas Table 2013:
Make a beautiful Christmas table with the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates as cake plate, and the RC Christmas cups:
The very first Royal Christmas plate from 1908 shows Mary with the child and was designed by the great contemporary artist Chr. Thomsen. At the beginning the designers of the Christmas plates varied from year to year, but one of the designers among the first Christmas plates is Oluf Jensen. Since the mid-1960's Kaj Lange was a steady designer of the blue Christmas plates. In 1986, Sven Vestergaard took over and he designed the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates until 2015.
Remember that Christmas plates can be used for serving food!
The blue Danish Christmas plates are decorated under the glazing, which means that they can be used for serving food and to eat from. This makes it possible to set a table with the many different motifs that have been produced through the years. This is a exellent way to use these old plates and makes it possible to set a table, where every plate is different.
The history of the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates
Royal Copenhagen's first Christmas plate was released in 1908, 13 years after the first porcelain Christmas plate was produced by Bing & Grondahl.
Philip Schou engaged the very skilled Chemist Adolph Clement in 1883 and later, in 1885, the Architect Arnold Krogh, who became the manager of Royal Copenhagen. These two developed and refined the underglaze technique in such a way that Royal Copenhagen was able to release its first Christmas plate in the characteristic blue nuances in 1908.
Royal Copenhagen's first Christmas plate was only produced in 1908, and the tradition of only producing the Christmas plate in the year of its release has been followed ever since. The mould for each year's Christmas plate is destroyed, when the year comes to an end, and the plate can never be reproduced. This fact has made Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates from some years scarce, and especially the 1908 Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate, which was produced in a very limited number as Royal Copenhagen had no way of anticipating the success of the Christmas plate, is in very high demand by collectors all over the world.
The Royal Copenhagen 1908 Christmas plate is titled Madonna with Child. Christian Thomsen designed this first Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate in the well known blue nuances. The following years, Royal Copenhagen engaged a number of very talented designers to add their contribution to the motif of the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate. The Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate motifs have varied throughout the years, but as a whole, they have caught the "Danish soul" and the cultural heritage from which it has sprung. Starting with the Christian tradition on which most Danes built their lives in 1908, Christmas traditions, the Danish winter landscape, the ships sailing in Danish waters, the beautiful old Danish churches such as the Grundtvig Church, the round churches of Bornholm to very old houses in Aabenraa. Royal Copenhagen's Christmas plate offers one description of Denmark, from whence the Christmas plates originate.
As before Royal Copenhagen engaged a number of very talented designers to give their contribution to the motif of the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate. The first Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates from 1941-1945 were only produced in very limited numbers, due to lack of firewood etc. during the war. The Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate had previous only been a decorative plate sold to the better middle classes, but in the 1960’s, because of fast growing wealth in the northern part of Europe, ordinary people started to buy Christmas plates. Soon it became a collectible, which was to be found in almost all Danish homes. Those people who bought Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates soon experienced the demand for the Christmas plates rising considerably, and therefore the value of Royal Christmas plates boomed. Soon the decorative plates were not only decorative collectibles, but also an object of investment.
Gradually while the sale and demand for Christmas plates found a more reasonable level, the interest in investing in Christmas plates eased off and the plates were again produced and purchased as decorative porcelain plates.
Because of the increase of quantity of Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates produced in the 1970’s, there is a large supply of these years, while the plates from the middle of the 1980s and forth were only made in much smaller quantities and therefore some of these years are very difficult to find.
The 100th year of Royal Copenhagen's Christmas plate in 2008 was celebrated with a view of the Danish capital and the evocative theme: "Christmas in Copenhagen". Sven Vestergaard has decorated the 2008 Christmas Plate with his interpretation of the most beautiful towers of the Danish capital: the Stock Exchange, City Hall, the Round Tower, Christiansborg Palace, the Church of Our Lady, Our Saviour's Church and the Marble Church. Svend Vestergaard has been one of the designers behind Royal Copenhagen's Christmas plates since 1985, and with these characteristic towers and spires, he illustrates the unique landmarks of a city studded with truly rich architecture. The Copenhagen towers motif draws a direct parallel to earlier plate motifs; Our Saviour's Church appeared as a separate motif in 1917 and the Church of Our Lady in 1949. In front of the plate's towers, the artist has drawn a bouquet of flowering Christmas roses, inspired by the wonderful story about a poor girl, who wanted to bring flowers to manger of Christ. As she had no money, she wept so much that Christmas roses began to grow where her tears fell to the earth. Behind the towers we see the radiance that lights up "Christmas in Copenhagen". This is a fond reference to the first Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate, which was created a hundred years ago. On the 1908 plate the artist illuminated the Madonna and Child with the same radiance.
The Christmas plates remarkable journey
From the early 20th Century until today, where the plate has become a popular collector's item. The lovely wall decoration has made a long and remarkable journey. At the Nordic Exhibition of 1888 Royal Copenhagen (then known as the Royal Danish Porcelain Manufacturer) displayed a series of plates with the factory's three familiar waves and a royal crown all painted in blue. The plates were intended as advertising for the factory, and they made quite a stir with the public. Crown Princess Louise was so taken with them that she immediately bought one and rumors of the royal purchase spread like wildfire, with the result that people were soon queuing up to buy plates. The plates were incredibly modern and different. In an age when everything was decorated with curlicues and gold, the simplicity and restrained colour palette of the plates were something quite new. It was 20 years before the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate was born as a collectible, however by then a rival porcelain factory Bing & Grondahl had been batch producing plates since 1895. In the beginning, the motifs were selected on the basis of a contest among the factory's porcelain painters, which resulted in great variation in expressions. Later, artists took turn to supply the motifs, which were often based on various events in Denmark. One of the most well known plate motifs is the kneeling angle on the plate from 1945. At the time, the angel's prayer without a doubt symbolised gratitude for the end of the war and liberation of Denmark. Famous Danish landmarks including the Training Ship Danmark, the Little Mermaid, Tivoli’s Pantomime Theatre and Hans Christian Andersen's House, have also been featured on the plates. Hans Christian Andersen's House provided the motif for the plate in 2005, when the author's bicentenary was celebrated all over the world.
100 years of production unchanged
At Royal Copenhagen's factory outside Copenhagen, the plates are made in the same way as over a hundred years ago. The first plates of this type dates all the way back to 1895. The production of the plate of the year starts with the artist, who draws the motif. The artist's drawing goes to the model shop, where it is transferred to a plaster model freehand. Creating shadows and nuances of colour by scratching the lines of the drawing in relief on the white plaster demands great skill and accuracy. Once the original model has been cut from the drawing, copies are made of it. These moulds can only be used 30-50 times, so new ones have to be made constantly. Then the plate itself is moulded by pressing the porcelain paste down over the mould, on which the motif appears in relief. The delicate shades of blue that give the plate their character are produced by combining traditional porcelain painting with a special spray technique. The colour is sprayed on carefully in several thin coats and then partly brushed off again. This technique creates a special effect that makes it possible to produce fine shades and nuances. From under a transparent coating of clear glaze the colour shines out with a vibrancy all of its own. This technique is still recognised today as being typical of Royal Copenhagen's plates.
The 100th anniversary of Royal Copenhagen's Christmas plate was celebrated in 2008 with festivities and events in Denmark, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Italy and the United States. For this occasion, Royal Copenhagen produced an exclusive silk scarf showing 26 of the last 100 years of plate motifs. The gorgeous scarf in shades of blue was on sale in select stores in Europe and Asia. No other Christmas plate collection in the world can rival the long and wonderful history of Danish Christmas plates. Right up to the present day, every single year has seen the launch of a plate with changing motifs taken from Denmark's countryside, history and traditions.
Only two artists have designed the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates from 1980-2008, namely Kaj Lange and Sven Vestergaard. Sven Vestergaard designed the 2008 Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate. He has many years of experience designing for Royal Copenhagen.
Employed at the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Manufactory as an overglaze painter, 1952-59.
Designer of the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Manufactory's Centenary Bowl, 1975.
Designer of Royal Copenhagen's Christmas plates, 1985-2015.
Own studio, working on a freelance basis for Royal Copenhagen, 1989-.
An early start....
At the age of 16 Sven Vestergaard was employed at the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Manufactory as an apprentice in the overglaze department. The effect of this decision is still evident in his meticulous attention to minute detail and the subtleties of the porcelain medium.
In 1959 Sven left the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Manufactory and started working as illustrator at various Danish advertising agencies as well as Berlingske Tidende - Denmark's oldest newspaper.
...and a happy return
When the position as draughtsman in the factory's design studio became vacant in 1975, Sven Vestergaard, who had never lost his love for porcelain, was happy to return and develop his talents as an artist. That same year Sven Vestergaard's artwork was chosen for the Christmas plate, "Danish Watermill", his first Christmas plate in a series of many.
In 1985 he became designer of Royal Copenhagen's Christmas plates and in 1989 he got his own studio, working on a freelance basis for Royal Copenhagen.
Below you will find an overview of the different designers of the Christmas plates:
Christian Thomsen has designed the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate 1908, 1910 and 1912
Stephan Ussing has designed the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate 1909
Oluf Jensen has designed the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate 1911, 1917, 1918, 1919, 1923, 1925, 1929, 1932 and 1934
Arthur Boesen has designed the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate 1913 and 1914
Arnold Krog has designed the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate 1915
Richard Bøcher has designed the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate 1916, 1926, 1936, 1945 and 1951
Gotfred Rode has designed the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate 1920, 1928 and 1931
Ellinor Selchau has designed the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate 1922
Chr. Benjamin-Olsen has designed the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate 1924, 1927, 1930, 1933 and 1935
Niels Thorsson (Nils Thorson) has designed the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate 1937, 1942, 1943 and 1946
Herne Nielsen has designed the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate 1938
Sv. Nicolai Nielsen has designed the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate 1939
Kaj Lange has designed the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate 1940, 1947, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973 ,1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985
Theodor Kjølner has designed the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate 1941, 1948 and 1953
Viggo Olsen has designed the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate 1944 and 1950
Hans Henrik Hansen has designed the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate 1949, 1957, 1958, 1959 and 1960
Sven Vestergaard has designed the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate 1976, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015
Allan Therkelsen has designed the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023.
If you are looking for Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates with other inscriptions than "JUL" like "Weihnacten" "Noel" "Vanoce" Please Click here to find our assortment
Facts about Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates:
When was the first Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate issued?
The first Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate was issued in 1908.
Are there variations of the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates?
Yes, over the years a number of plates have been issued with text in German, French and other languages than Danish.
Which artist has designed the most Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates?
The artist behind the largest number of Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates is Sven Vestergaard.
Which are the rarest Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates?
The rarest Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate is the first plate from 1908. Other rare plates include the years between 1940 and 1945 during the war.