Tag Archives: num:ScienceMuseum=A64169

Coronation collecting

After the heady celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee, which memorabilia are you going to hold on to? When Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne in 1952 and was crowned the year after a whole host of memorabilia was available. We have a range of coronation day items celebrating the crowning of the current monarch as well as monarchs across Europe.


Acrylic pill box, 1953 ( Science Museum, London )

Both the mug and pill box are part of the museum’s Plastics and Modern Materials collections as examples of acrylic and urea formalyde. The pill box carries the royal coat of arms. Urea formaldehyde was first patented in the 1920s and was used for a wide range of things for electrical fittings and lampshades.   

Coronation day mug, 1953 ( Science Museum, London )

By far the quirkiest item relating to the Queen’s coronation in the collections is a decorative neon light bulb with the filament twisted in to the letters ‘E R’ for Elizabeth Regina and surmounted by a crown. The light bulb was collected in 2001 with as a commemorative piece to celebrate the Golden Jubilee 10 years ago.

Decorative light bulb 1952-1953 ( Science Museum, London )

For other coronations we have to rely on medals and prints of the time, but for King Ludwig II of Bavaria we have the magnificent meerschaum cigar holder complete with a carriage and six horses. Monarch of Bavaria until his death, Ludwig had a passion for building fairytale-like castles, but was also a significant patron of the arts.

Cigar holder representing the coronation of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, Munich, Germany, 1864-1867 ( Science Museum, London )

For more on the Queen’s Jubilee why not check out the Science and Society Picture Library’s own tribute here or At Home with the Queen at the Museum of London.



We’re all mugs for a royal wedding…

Oh we all love a royal wedding. With memorabilia manufacturers wasting no time to issue commemorative souvenirs featuring Prince William and his future missus, Kate Middleton, it’s an opportune moment to examine a few monarchical mementoes from our own collections…

Mugs to celebrate the marriage of Charles, HRH Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer, were presented to child patients at the Lord Mayor Treloar Orthopaedic Hospital, Alton, England.

Charles and Diana commemorative mug, 1981. Credit: Science Museum, London

I’m rather a fan of this royal silhouette vase (Can you see it? Can you see it?!!!), created as part of an illusions exhibition for display in the Millennium Dome. Though not wedding ware, the original vase made by Kaiser Porcelain, celebrated Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee of 1977.

Can you guess who it is yet? The vase's shape creates an optical illusion, showing the profiles of the Queen and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. Credit: Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

If that isn’t ostentatious enough for you, check out this extravagant cigar holder, celebrating the coronation of the Bavarian king, Ludwig II in 1864.  With a penchant for building fairytale-like castles, Ludwig became known variously as The Swan King, the Fairy Tale King and latterly ‘Mad King Ludwig’.

Cigar holder representing the coronation of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, Munich, Germany, 1864-1867

Clearly, ornate meerschaum pipes (a versatile clay-like material) were the royal souvenir fad of the day. Here’s another from the 1880s, this time picturing the coronation (or possibly wedding) of Frederick III, Emperor of Germany, and his consort Victoria.  Perhaps it’s time to resurrect the ornate pipe to mark Will and Kate’s nuptial celebrations?

Nothing more tasteful than commemorating a royal celebration with a giant ornate pipe. Credit: Science Museum, London

Finally, whilst nowadays there’s no pressure to produce an heir, Kate might still want to check out our Royal Births game for some tips…