Chinaware commemorating coronation of King Charles III goes on sale

The range was made using centuries-old manufacturing processes in the heart of the Potteries, an area around Stoke-on-Trent

The collection is made of hand-finished bone China. AFP
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A collection of hand-finished bone China has gone on sale commemorating the upcoming coronation of King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla.

The range, made using centuries-old manufacturing processes in the heart of the Potteries, an area around Stoke-on-Trent, marks the May 6 ceremony at Westminster Abbey.

The bespoke design incorporates the royal coat of arms and a garland of laurel leaves symbolising peace.

Also featured is a decorative border of oak leaves signifying strength and longevity alongside the emblems of the four nations of the UK — the thistle, rose, shamrock and daffodil — while an entwined ribbon symbolises the partnership of the king and queen consort.

The range, from the Royal Collection Trust charity, features Charles's cypher, which is stamped in gold foil, designed by The College of Arms and consists of initials from his name and title, rex, which is Latin for king.

Ian Grant, the trust's head of product development and buying, said the process of designing and manufacturing thousands of pieces brought enormous pride to the staff working to produce the range.

The trust, part of the royal household, has been making commemorative china for 30 years.

But Mr Grant said: “This is probably the most momentous occasion we've developed a product for.”

Mr Grant, who started in the industry as an apprentice at Wedgwood in 1984, said designers and artisans needed to create a line of desirable products “very quickly” after the coronation date was announced.

The exact manufacturing location is kept under wraps, but workers there, some of whom started in the pottery-making industry as teenagers and are now in their 60s, spoke of their delight at being involved in marking such a historic event.

Mr Grant said each stage requires “years of training”, building to an “amazing process” which gives value to the Made in England stamp each item has applied on its base.

The china is fired in a biscuit kiln at 1,238°C for 11 hours, baking the pottery to such an extent that, when emptied at 4am, it will have shrunk by 15 per cent — a percentage indicating a fine quality bone china.

Pieces are then put in electric vibrating machines filled with small composite cubes of wood and pottery which act to “polish” the item without damaging it, allowing it to be glazed, and fired again at 1,080C.

The items are then decorated with a hand-applied silkscreen litho print.

In their still unfinished state, the colours on the decorated items — featuring paint containing liquid gold — are mismatched.

But once fired for a third and final time at 810°C, the heat and chemical processes turn the browns into golds and the green becomes a deep and vivid royal blue.

Even the boxes into which the pieces are packed are handmade by another Stoke-on-Trent firm, where an experienced team can make 200 packages an hour.

Mr Grant said: “Our guests and visitors to the sites at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse always look for something a little bit special when they visit us.

“So we wanted to make sure that this product met the expectations of our visitors but also truly and properly reflected the occasion.”

The range comprises a coffee mug priced at £30, pillbox at £40, tankard at £50, an eight-inch dessert plate also at £50, and a tea cup and saucer at £75.

There are also several limited edition lines which will be hand-numbered, produced in smaller runs ranging from 150 to 1,000 and be “a little bit more special”, Mr Grant said.

Profits go to the trust for the care and conservation of the Royal Collection.

Updated: April 14, 2023, 12:01 PM