At his ceramics workshop, Simon Willis proudly presented the tableware collection he launched for Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign, with the almost unmistakable dream that the monarch would add one of these pieces to his personal collection.
” We have not had a chance to see a queen or king on the throne again for 70 years “, launched the owner of Goviers, a company that has specialized for more than thirty years in the manufacture of commemorative ceramics in Stoke-on-Trent, in the heart of England.” It’s not nothing! »
Elizabeth II ascended the throne on February 6, 1952, and festivities were planned for June. For the occasion, Goviers has been selling the “Platinum Jubilee” range of cups and plates with very English floral motifs since last July.
The work is meticulous, each motif is first printed on color slices before being manually placed in a cup or a fine porcelain plate. Using a brush, a ceramist adds the final golden finish to the dishes, which are then fired before being ready to sell.
From the raw cup to the final touch of paint, all made at Stoke-on-Trent. Conveniently located in the Midlands, with clay making ceramics and coal to bake them, the town became the center of pottery production around the world in the 1800s, thriving for decades before falling sharply, between closure of factories and relocations in Asia.
“Very English tradition”
” Many factories moved abroad because of the cost of production and no special collection for the royal jubilee, regrets Simon Willis, 58. ” I think the market is not big enough. »
Falling accidentally into ceramics after studying economics specializing in the automotive industry, he didn’t hesitate before creating his anniversary set, knowing that his customers, 90% British, were collectors.
” Surely they have plates at home to celebrate the Queen’s wedding, her coronation, all these events ... “, he underlined.” It’s a tradition, I imagine very English “.
Sold between 45 pounds for the small cup (54 euros) and 175 pounds for the large plate, Goviers tableware was really not intended to be used as a simple kitchen utensil but to display alongside other commemorative ceramics.
” The British ceramics industry has always been good at marking these events, large or small. “said Simon Willis.” The beauty of ceramics is that what is produced now, if taken care of, is still there when my son is dead. ‘Cause we produce something that inherently lasts forever “.
Souvenirs dedicated to the royal family or queen, which are still very popular as she approaches her 96th birthday, are endlessly rejected and continue to be sold at every birth, wedding or celebration of the king.
According to the UK Center for Retail, these memories generated nearly 200 million pounds (240 million euros at current rates) of costs last jubilee in 2012, where five million commemorative mugs and pottery were sold.
This year, four days of festivities are planned in early June to mark the platinum jubilee, with a military parade, a big concert and thousands of popular lunches across the country. Despite Brexit and the pandemic, many tourists are expected.
Goviers only expects to sell a few hundred cups and plates, but hopes his dishes will remain in people’s minds. ” It’s always a bit special to do something associated with a royal event that will be celebrated around the world. “, explains Simon Willis, who dreams that the monarch has one of his ceramics.
” Obviously the queen has a large collection “, he underlined. corn” it’s still a bit thrilling to think that some of our productions might fall into the hands of Her Majesty “.