Since the first Royal Copenhagen Annual Plate was launched in 1908, it has been cherished among collectors across the world. Telling the story of Danish culture and heritage, each plate is a piece of Danish porcelain history. The story behind the iconic blue plates is one of royal heritage, craftsmanship and a passion for blue since 1775.

It all began in 1888

The idea behind the annual plate as we know it today originates from the 1888 Nordic Industrial, Agricultural and Arts Exhibition in Copenhagen. An enormous event, primarily held in and around the Tivoli gardens, that would bring 1,3 million guests to a country of just 2 million inhabitants. The Royal Danish Porcelain Factory had, as part of its exhibition at the fair, created a series of plates that lined the podiums used for display. The plates were decorated in blue with the factory’s logo: The crown and three wavy lines.

Among the guests at the exhibition were members of the royal family and after having seen the plates, Crown Princess Louise of Denmark asked to purchase one as a keepsake from this grand event. Her plate was marked with a small sign causing other visitors to wish to acquire a plate as well; eventually exceeding the amount of available plates, forcing the porcelain factory to produce more. And thus it was discovered that they had inadvertently created the perfect collectors’ item to be used for marking special occasions. In the years to come The Royal Danish Porcelain Factory would create plates to celebrate various milestones in relation to the royal family. 

A Unique Craft

Around the same time, artist Frans August Hallin from the Royal Danish Porcelain Factory decided to carve a relief in the mould for the plate, making it possible to easily repeat the decoration in numerous copies. Instead of hand-painting the plates, they could then be spray painted and the disparities in depth created by the relief would create variations in the intensity of the colour.

In 1895 however, Hallin left the factory and took his idea with him to Bing & Grøndahl. Here the owner of the factory Harald Bing, came up with the idea of using the relief technique to create an collector’s plate for an occasion that could be repeated annually with a new motive year after year. And so, Bing & Grøndahl would become the first to release an Annual Christmas Plate exactly as we know them today. Thirteen years later in 1908, Royal Copenhagen followed suit and released their own annual plate using Hallin’s relief technique. Although the two porcelain factories were merged in 1987 the two series of annual plates continue to exist side by side to the delight of collectors and gift givers around the world.