Monday, January 3, 2011

Object of the Day: A Souvenir Mug of Queen Victoria, 1888

Souvenir images of the Royal Family have been popular in the United Kingdom for centuries. Portraits of the reigning monarchs have often been featured on everyday items for sale to the public as commemorative collectibles. This is especially true of coronations, funerals and Royal Weddings. Those of us who were alive when Diana married the Prince of Wales will recall the many Charles and Diana themed collectibles and, as we can see, a good many William and Kate souvenirs are already being produced.

This ceramic mug with gold details is dated 1888 on the bottom. It bears a portrait of Queen Victoria based upon a series of paintings which had been inspired by an 1887 photograph (see below) taken of the Queen. Here, she can be seen in her garter and insignia wearing the imperial crown as well as the stunning diamond coronation necklace and earrings. She looks especially serene and majestic. This image of the Queen was one of her favorites.  In fact, she herself commissioned several portrait brooches and bracelets for friends and family using a derivation of the same picture. 

Commemorative china such as this would have been purchased around England by supporters of the Queen, but were also produced for export with the intention of heightening British pride. And, I must confess, though I’m an American living in Texas, I can’t help but feel British pride when I look at her smiling back at me.

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