Royal collectors gear up for King Charles III’s coronation
The demand for royal memorabilia is expected to take off this week with some items tipped to be worth thousands of dollars, as the coronation nears.
But experienced royal collectors have some canny tips to help snag a bargain.
King Charles III will be crowned king of the UK and 14 other Commonwealth realms — including Australia — on May 6.
Like previous major royal events, including weddings, and the recent death of Charles’ mother, Elizabeth II, production of royal memorabilia has gone into overdrive.
While royal memorabilia has been around since the 17th century, the market really took off in the 1960s as the Royal Family became more visible in the media.
According to Sydney’s Theodore Bruce auction house, items such as an English Delft Charger plate commemorating William III’s 1690 coronation sold in the UK in 2017 for £7800.
A signed photograph of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, gifted to their chauffeur during their 1973 Australian tour, recently sold for thousands above estimate.
And one royal fanatic in 2011 paid £500 on eBay for a slice of William & Kate’s wedding cake.
Theodore Bruce is holding their own royal memorabilia auction on the day of Charles’ coronation, although pieces of cake will presumably not be up for grabs.
Speaking to radio 4BC following of Elizabeth’s death last September, Theodore Bruce’s Casi Prischl said items from Elizabeth II’s 1953 coronation tend to be the most valuable.
“She had no memorabilia produced before that, unlike say Prince Charles who had more memorabilia made when he was born because they knew he was going to be the King, probably at some stage,” Ms Prischl said.
“Whereas with [Elizabeth] there was none of that, really, until she was 10 years of age … certainly I think her [coronation] remains the most popular pieces to collect, and probably the most valuable as well.”
Ms Prischl said coins were among the items usually guaranteed to appreciate in value.
“Both the Australian and British Royal Mint have seen a huge uptick in people wanting to buy coins, because obviously the head on the back of those coins will swap in due course.”
Heading to the UK to experience the coronation first hand will be Australia’s foremost collector of royal memorabilia, Jan Hugo.
Jan has been collecting royal family items since the wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981, and the collection in her Nulkaba, NSW home has since expanded to more than 10,000 items.
“We’ve given up counting,” Jan told NCA NewsWire, who said the 10,000 figure was from a few years ago, and the collection has only grown since then.
“We picked up pieces from antique shops, deceased estates, we bought collections from people who no longer needed them.
“Lots of china, most of the cabinets are filled with china … they look better in the cupboards … everything from flags, spoons, thimbles … teddy bears, games.
“I started to collect back when Diana took up with Prince Charles … our first child was born at that time, and we put some stuff aside for the baby.
“Diana was such an amazing person, and once I had this massive cabinet full of Diana and Charles, we needed something for the Queen, and then the Queen’s father, and now we have things from 11 different Monarchs and royals.
“It just gets in your blood I think.”
The first 30 years of collecting were the hardest, in the days before the internet was widespread.
In fact, Jan said the internet was now the best place to find memorabilia for those who may be inspired by the coronation to start their own collections.
“There is so much of it on the internet … you’ll get lots of plates, cups, towels … but you have to have the cheaper items as well,” she said, noting that while officially endorsed items at Buckingham Palace’s Royal Collection Shop are generally more sought after, they are the most expensive.
“You pay $500 for a teapot at the palace, but you can get one for $20 at the corner shop.
“No one could afford just the official stuff.”
She’s not wrong: a single Victoria Regina Plate, a limited edition of 500, will set you back £150 (about $A270).
But what items are worth the most?
Jan said the most sought-after items are those that have actually been handled by a member of the Royal Family.
“A lady told me she had a pair of Queen Victoria‘s gloves. Victoria would give her gloves away when she grew tired of them, to servants and the like … hat is something really great to have, that was owned by a king or queen.”
And of course, Jan said she’s taking an extra couple of suitcases with her to the UK in case she decides to pick up some more items for the collection.
The coronation of King Charles III will take place London on Saturday May 6 at 11am local time — 8pm AEST.