Skip to content

By Selina Hurley on

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.