On May 6, the world tuned in to watch King Charles III and his wife, Camilla, crowned King and Queen of the United Kingdom. In the months leading up to his coronation, and on the heels of newly-issued Queen Elizabeth memorial items, a new wave of royal memorabilia honoring King Charles’ ascension to the throne has hit the market.
Everything from cookie tins to commemorative coins and china can be purchased online and in shops and souvenir stands throughout the United Kingdom and around the world. On Amazon.com, one can purchase such mass-produced commemorative items as a King Charles III Coronation Plate for $25.00, a coronation mug for $14.29, an uncirculated Royal Mint 2023 Britannia King Charles III Ascension to the Throne coin for $54.95 and a King Charles III Coronation Platinum Package of life-size cutouts, party faces and a photo of the Royal Family for $329.99. Home décor banners, hanging ornaments, throw pillows, beer glasses, sweatshirts, playing cards, and a wide range of other kitschy commemorative items are also available for sale for those looking to join in the celebration and mark the occasion with a souvenir.
Soon, however, this celebratory moment will become all but a recent memory in history and the souvenirs from this grand event will be replaced and displaced by the next big royal event. Whatever inventory that’s left will find its way into bargain bins, resale shops, and flea markets – great places for a collector to look for affordable additions to their collection.
So, does that mean that coronation memorabilia has no real value outside of one’s personal collecting passion? Here are some recent thoughts from collectors and dealers as the world gets caught up in coronation fever:
“When it comes to coronation memorabilia, the sky is the limit in terms of what could be considered valuable,” says Nicholas Wells, a London-based antique dealer and owner of Nicholas Wells Antiques Ltd., in a recent article for Homes and Gardens. “Memorabilia from royal events like coronations and jubilees can be more than just trinkets or souvenirs. For collectors, they represent a piece of history, a connection to a momentous occasion, and, sometimes, a lucrative investment opportunity.”
While commemorative coins, medals, plates, and cups are popular items among collectors, as are photographs and other souvenirs related to the coronation ceremony, serious collectors look for items that belonged to or were signed by members of the royal family, such as personal letters, clothing, or jewelry, and rarer, limited-edition pieces in perfect condition from known makers.
Antique dealer Nick Jones suggests collectors consider pieces made in limited numbers – and recommends buying from a well-known factory, such as Wedgwood or Royal Doulton; however, china and pottery aside, Jones reminds us not to overlook a traditional British kitchen staple: tea. “You can also consider pieces from Harrods or Fortnum & Mason– such as a box of coronation tea, which is already dried so it won’t rot. Remember, rarity counts, so keep it unopened in the box so it’s in pristine condition… Fortnum & Mason have a well-established relationship with the royal family, so it’s no surprise they have a special coronation collection.”
“Historically unless the item was owned by a member of the Royal Family, the increase in monetary value is small,” says collectibles Expert Tracy Martin in a recent interview with The Sun; however, Martin believes a lot has to do with the item’s maker, calling out items made by Halcyon Days, the prestigious English manufacturer of fine bone china, and Spode, which has released classic blue and white commemorative pieces. “Spode is affordable yet desirable with collectors,” Martin says. “And Halcyon Days signature enamel boxes have three Royal Warrants and have always been a popular area of collecting.” Martin also recommends pottery queen Emma Bridgewater’s collection as an investment. “Collectors are always eager to snap up the English potters mugs.” But, Martin says, it’s not just ceramics that will increase in value – “even cheap commemorative food and drink could be worth money, so hold on to that biscuit caddy. Food packaging is a massive area of collecting as it is all about nostalgia, tins being at the top of the list.” Her advice to collectors: “Keep everything in mint to good condition, store away from direct sunlight and try not to scratch tins or crumple packaging.”
According to an article in last week’s London Mirror, Anita Atkinson, 66, spent the last four decades collecting tea sets, trinkets, paintings, flags, books and even cardboard cut-outs to celebrate her love for the monarchy. Today, her collection of royal memorabilia is worth more than £200,000 ($251,593). The grandmother, who is from Crook, County Durham, has items that date back to the 18th-century reign of Queen Anne displayed in her home and in a private ‘museum’ housed in an old dairy barn on the farm where she lives.
With so much to choose from, experts recommend the following tips for upping your chances for long-term value:
1. Look for rare and limited edition pieces: While plenty of retailers are currently offering a selection of coronation mugs, for example, they will more often than not be mass-produced in a large collection, rather than limited edition, very rare pieces. Stephanie Connell, an antique dealer, and consultant tells Woman & Home that “anything unusual, such as rare coronation mugs, or directly from the Royal family – such as signed presentation photographs – have been increasing in demand in recent years…Swansea pottery mugs celebrating the coronation of Queen Victoria, for example, can fetch over £500 at auction.”
2. Invest in quality pieces: the best advice for finding some truly rare coronation memorabilia, souvenirs, and collectibles that may hold value in the future is to keep an eye out for good design and craftsmanship. Adds antique dealer Nicholas Wells, “It’s best to look for items that are in good condition and have a clear provenance.” In other words, always ask the seller/dealer about the history and origin of the piece, and make sure you have as much information as possible before purchasing.
3. Choose your timing wisely: While most people will be searching for coronation memorabilia in the lead-up to the big day, it’s important to note that prices and value will fluctuate depending on when the piece is bought. “Some collectors and experts suggest that it may be better to wait until after the coronation to buy memorabilia, as prices could potentially drop due to a decrease in demand,” says Wells. “This could be especially true if there is a surplus of memorabilia produced for the event, and collectors may be looking to sell their items after the initial excitement has died down.”
While it’s hard to say which items of royal memorabilia will become valuable in the future, experts say there are certain things to look out for. “Official programs, commemorative coins, commemorative plates, photographs, and other souvenirs related to the coronation ceremony” will likely prove valuable over time. Indeed, the Royal Mint coronation coins, released on Monday, April 24, are a good example of a limited edition, commemorative piece that could become very valuable in the future.