If you’re a lover of Danish porcelain and want to collect Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates, then you need to know the history of the company itself. It is important to know the history so you can learn to identify proper Royal Copenhagen works, and appreciate the art and craftsmanship that goes in to each and every plate they make.
Royal Copenhagen came into existence in 1775 Denmark. Frantz Heinrich Muller, a chemist, had been experimenting for years and finally discovered how to produce hard porcelain in the best way. The company was under the protection of Denmark’s queen, and bore the trademark (and then factory mark) of three wavy lines, meant to symbolize the three straits in Denmark.
At first, these plates were not made. In fact, the factory had a lot of problems right from the start. Denmark does not have a lot of the resources needed to make and produce porcelain. But in 1779 King Christian VII, the King at the time, invested money in the factory and guaranteed their future.
In 1849, monarchy as a method of absolute rule was abolished in Denmark, so their royal investment no longer guaranteed them a place on the market. In 1868, Royal Copenhagen came into private ownership.
In 1908, the very first Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate was made. This began a tradition of annual Christmas plates that continues to this day. The plate was developed using brand new underglazing techniques. F.A Halin cut the design on relief on to the plate, and used interchanging layers of color to make a variety of rich blue hues. His technique set the benchmark for the quality that Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates are renowned for, and that makes them such sought after collectors items.
Each Christmas plate is unique for the year it is made in. The year appears on the surface of the plate. Even today, the way they make the plates hasn’t changed much from how they were made back in the early 1900’s. Each plate is painted by hand.
The very first Royal Copenhagen Christmas plate, for 1908, is called ‘Mary With Child’ and is one of the most sought after by collectors. Another desired piece is the small 1911 plate, known as the ‘Thief Plate’, which is different than the regular 1911 plate ‘Wooden Fence With Sheaf Of Corn’. Newer plates that collectors want are the 2004 and 2005 plates that were signed by the artist, Sven Vestergaard. These can be found, but usually in very limited quantities.