Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Diamond standard

Looking for a Diamond Jubilee memento? Antiques expert Fiona Shoop advises…

I am the proud owner of a 1977 Silver Jubilee mug. It’s a little battered but brings back happy memories. Even without its chips and cracks, I’d be lucky to get £5 for it but some memorabilia isn’t about money but the honouring of an event.

On the other hand, the Diamond Jubilee is a great time to invest in quality commemoratives – and quality is the key. I wrote about the goods produced for the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday. Cynicism reigned and the manufacturers were very canny – you’ll see the goods labelled as being produced for her 100th year, not birthday – just in case she didn’t quite make it. Fortunately, no such problems exist with our long-reigning monarch but, let’s just say, not all of the goods are quite, well, tasteful. Others are delightful but unlikely to rise in value, while some are a very good investment.

Royal commemoratives are not as popular as they were, partly because the Royal Family lost some of their sheen when they became too accessible.

Historic Jubilees

There are surprisingly few Jubilees and the only other monarch to have had a Diamond Jubilee was Queen Victoria in 1897. Victoria’s reign also saw the first mass-produced goods and it’s still fairly easy to find pressed glass plates commemorating both her Golden and Diamond Jubilees. Expect to pay £30 to £50 for these, based on their condition. These were made by several firms, the most famous being Sowerby. One of my favourite pieces is an octagonal plate, part of a series by Wallis Gimson & Co, made for the 1887 Golden Jubilee and celebrating the Trades and Industries of the nation. Worth £100 to £150; just make sure it’s not chipped.

This year, expect a wealth of former royal commemoratives to flood the market. My personal favourite is a range of 11 sheep, designed by Malcolm Gooding and made by Carlton Ware in 1984, featuring the Royal Family – including the Queen, with her handbag.

TOP TEN COLLECTABLES

With so many commemoratives available for the Diamond Jubilee, which ones do I recommend?

Jubilee collectibles

1 The Royal Collection – stylish bone china pieces. Diamond Jubilee side plate, £35, John Lewis: 0845-604 9049, www.johnlewis.com

2 Royal Worcester figure of the Queen. Limited edition of 2,500 and made to order, this stylish piece is £150 and one of the best Diamond Jubilee investments, from Goviers: 01395-513419, www.goviers.co.uk

3 Royal Crown Derby Pearly King and Queen figures. This cool cat pair are in a limited edition of 350 and have been redesigned from their original 1989 release to feature ‘EIIR’. Price, £450. RCD’s limited edition Imari solidgold band square casket has already sold out, despite a price tag of £1,650. I also like the Diamond Jubilee oval bauble (limited edition of 1,500), at £85 from high-street retailers.

4 Dean’s bear: 12-inch Diamond Jubilee Bear, white mohair with a purple sash, pendant and pearly tiara, a limited edition of 60 and an affordable £99.95. Order soon on: 01981-240966, www.deansbears.com

5 Merrythought: another British bear institution, offers this 15-inch, Diamond Jubilee Bear in wavy, cream mohair with a purple sash, embroidered with the Queen’s cipher. The edition is limited to 200 and costs £189.95, available from specialist toy stores and direct from Merrythought: 01952-433044, www.merrythought.co.uk

Jubilee collectibles

6 Halcyon Days’ Vivat Regina Prestige box in red, from a series. Top-quality enamels – the holder of three royal warrants; £525, Halcyon Days: 0844-880 8210 and selected retailers.

7 Hornby: Princess Elizabeth locomotive and three carriages, limited edition of 4,000, £174.99, from specialist toy and department stores.

8 Dartington Crystal celebrates with elegant glass and crystal ware, including this Toasting Flute, £65 for a pair, from www.dartington.co.uk

9 Royal Doulton figure of the Queen seated, wearing full ceremonial regalia, £195, from high-street retailers.

10 Emma Bridgewater hand-painted decorative teapot (£75) and boxed mug (£40), from the National Gallery shop: www.nationalgallery.co.uk

SPECIAL MENTIONS

While, strictly speaking, they’re not a collectable, I’m going to be buying several special Jubilee shoppers in aid of Cancer Research and available for £3 from their stores, with 100% profi ts going to the charity. Especially important in the Queen’s Jubilee year as her father, King George VI, suffered from cancer. I’d also recommend the shapely Bell’s Diamond Jubilee decanter – don’t drink it or your investment will drain away – the empty decanter’s worth only a fraction of its true cost. The whisky market is still strong, so buy now for a healthy profit in the future: £84.95, from specialist off licences.

THE QUEEN’S WILDLIFE GARDEN DVD OFFER

A policeman escorting ducklings through the Palace grounds. A family of sparrows nesting in the Palace gates. The aerial artistry of dragonflies, set against the world’s most famous backdrop. These are just some of the extraordinary scenes in The Queen’s Garden, a rare film that charts a year in the life of the Buckingham Palace garden.

Filmed in 1976 by the late Bill Travers and narrated by Virginia McKenna, it offers a glorious insight into this vibrant, beautiful habitat, and has been personally approved by Her Majesty the Queen.

Now, to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, we are able to offer this touching DVD to readers on an exclusive basis, complete with a personal message from Virginia McKenna herself.

PRICE £14.99, plus £1.50 p&p

Order by phone on: 01403-240170. By post: The Queen’s Garden DVD, 3 Grove House, Foundry Lane, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 5PL. Make cheques payable to Born Free Trading/Queen’s Garden.



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