As the British monarch’s 70-year reign approaches, a potter has created a collection of service commemorating the event, in the purest English tradition.
In his pottery workshop, Simon Willis proudly displays the service collection he launched for Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign, with the hardly hidden dream that the monarch would add one of these pieces to his personal collection. “We have no chance of seeing a queen or a king on the throne again in 70 years,” said the owner of Goviers, a company that specializes in commemorative pottery for more than thirty years in Stoke-on. -Trained, in central England. “It is nothing!”
Elizabeth II ascended the throne on February 6, 1952, and the festivities are scheduled for June. For the occasion, Goviers has been selling a “Platinum Jubilee” series of cups and plates with very English floral motifs since July last year. The work is careful, as each motif is first printed in color slices before it is manually placed on a cup or a fine porcelain plate. With a brush, a potter adds the final golden finishes to the dishes, which are then fired before they are ready to be marketed.
From the raw mug to the final touches of paint, everything is made in Stoke-on-Trent. Conveniently located in the Midlands, with clay to make pottery and coal to bake them, the city had become the world center for pottery production around 1800, and thrived for decades before falling sharply between factory closures and relocations in Asia.
“Very English tradition”
“Many factories have traveled abroad because of the cost” of production and do not have a special collection for the royal anniversary, regrets Simon Willis, 58. “I think the market is not big enough.” When he accidentally fell into ceramics after studying economics specializing in the automotive industry, he did not hesitate to create his anniversary range as he was aware that his customers, 90% British, are collectors.
“They definitely have plates at home to celebrate the Queen’s wedding, her coronation, all these events …”, he emphasizes. “It’s a tradition I imagine very much English.” Sold between 45 pounds for a small cup (54 euros) and 175 pounds for a large plate, Govier’s tableware is actually not intended to be used as a simple kitchen utensil, but to be exhibited along with other commemorative ceramics.
“The British ceramics industry has always been good at marking these events, big and small,” said Simon Willis. “The great thing about ceramics is that what is produced today, if taken care of, will still be there when my son is dead. Because we produce something that, by its very nature, lasts forever. ”
Souvenirs dedicated to the royal family or the queen, which are still extremely popular as she approaches her 96th birthday, have been endlessly rejected and continue to be sold at every birth, wedding or royal celebration. According to the UK Center for Retail, these souvenirs generated almost £ 200m. GBP (EUR 240 million at current exchange rates) during the previous anniversary in 2012, when five million commemorative mugs and ceramics were sold.
This year, four days of festivities are planned for early June to mark the platinum anniversary with a military parade, a big concert and thousands of popular lunches across the country. Despite Brexit and the pandemic, many tourists are expected. Goviers expects to sell only a few hundred cups and plates, but hopes his service will stick in people’s minds. “It’s always a little special to make something associated with a royal event to be celebrated all over the world,” explains Simon Willis, who dreams of the monarch having one of his pottery.
“It is clear that the Queen has a huge collection,” he says. (But) it’s still quite exciting to imagine that some of our productions might go into the hands of Her Majesty.