Tuesday 24 July 2018

King George VI Souvenirs (and other related items)

King George VI ('Prince Albert' Frederick Arthur George) was born at York Cottage, Sandringham, United Kingdom on 14th December 1895. Queen Victoria, his great grandmother was on the throne of England at the time of his birth.
He married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon at Westminster Abbey on 26th April 1923. Being the second son of King George V, George was not expected to inherit the throne, however, things changed for George when his elder brother, Edward VIII, abdicated to marry the divorced American socialite, Wallis Simpson. Thus George VI was crowned king on 12th May 1937 at his coronation in Westminster Abbey and reigned until his death on 6th February 1952.

As with most of the English monarchs, many souvenirs of their significant life events were produced. Below are just a few from my own personal collection.

Souvenir books, such as "Our Royal Family" provide a wealth of both formal and candid photographs, of King George VI and his family life. This hardcover, cloth bound book was published by The Sun News-Pictorial in Melbourne in about 1949.
(The above portrait of King George VI was taken from this book, "Our Royal Family")

This beautiful painting of the coronation, by Frank O. Salisbury, is featured on both the front and back inside cover pages of the book "Our Royal Family".

Detail of the intricately embossed cloth bound cover of  "Our Royal Family".

Ceramic souvenir cup of the 1937 Coronation of King George VI  . 

The title ' EMPEROR OF INDIA' (or EMPRESS during Queen Victoria's reign) was used by the British monarchy from 1876 until 1948 when India gained its independence from the United Kingdom.

This Norville Ware cup was produced by C & E Limited, England.

The long running "The Illustrated London News" produced a Royal Silver Wedding Number on May 1 1948 to commemorate the 25th wedding anniversary of King George VI and Elizabeth (also known as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother). The magazine featured an elaborately adorned cover and a 12 page full colour centre section featuring some wonderful photos of the Royal Family, two of which are reproduced below.

The official wedding photo of the King and Queen from April 26, 1923.

Lovely family photo taken at Buckingham Palace in 1942, featuring the King and Queen with their two daughters, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret.

Souvenir plate produced for the cancelled 1949 Royal Visit to Australia. This was to be the first Royal Visit by a reigning monarch but was cancelled at the last minute due to the King's failing health. This proved to be rather unfortunate for the manufacturers of the royal visit souvenirs. I wonder what happened to most of these now not required souvenirs? Obviously some have survived!
Another royal tour to Australia was planned for 1952, this time by Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. Unfortunately, this tour had to be cancelled before it was even half way through when her father, King George VI, died. It wasn't until two years later, 1954, that a reigning monarch would finally visit Australia.

Crest detail on 1949 Royal Visit plate.

This Royal Tudor Ware plate was produced by Barker Bros. Ltd, England

Children's china was another popular area for the souvenir manufacturers. This Baby's Plate was produced as a souvenir of Princess Margaret Rose's birth in 1930. The plate is decorated with two lovebirds (budgerigars) and marguerite and rose flower designs referring to the given names of the princess. This design proved to be very popular at the time.

Souvenir details from the back of the Baby's Plate.

How many more souvenirs were produced during the reign of King George VI? I'm not sure anyone would really know, but it would probably numbers in the thousands.

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