In his workshop, Simon Willis, owner of Cowiers, which specializes in making souvenir pottery, works on a special collection prior to the Queen’s Jubilee.
Simon Willis in his pottery workshop proudly displays the tableware collection he introduced for the 70-year reign of Elizabeth II, with the hidden dream that the king would add one of these pieces to his personal collection.
We will not see a queen or a king on the throne again for 70 years, ”says the owner. Cowboys, A company specializing in the manufacture of commemorative ceramics for over thirty years in Stoke-on-Trend, Central England. “It’s nothing!”
A “Platinum Jubilee” limit
Elizabeth II ascended the throne on February 6, 1952, and ceremonies were scheduled for June. For this event, Cowiers has been selling “Platinum Jubilee” size cups and plates with English floral patterns since last July.
The workmanship is meticulous, before being placed manually on a cup or a fine ceramic plate each core is first printed on colored pieces. With a brush, a potter adds the final golden coatings to dishes, which are then baked before they are ready to be marketed.
Everything from the green mug to the final touch of paint is made in Stoke-on-Trend. Located conveniently in the Midlands, clay for making pottery and coal for baking them, the city became a global center of pottery production in the 1800s, thriving for decades, with factories shutting down and relocating sharply in Asia.
Simon Willis, 58, regrets that “many factories have gone overseas due to production costs” and do not have a special collection for the state anniversary. “I think the market is not good enough.”
A “very English” tradition
Accidentally falling into pottery after studying economics specializing in the automotive industry, he did not hesitate to create his own year limit, knowing that 90% of his clients were British collectors.
“The plates will definitely be in their house to celebrate the Queen’s wedding, the coronation, all of these events …” he underlines. “It’s a tradition, I imagine so much English”.
Selling for 45 45 (54 54) for the small cup and 5 175 (0 210) for the large tray, the Cowie’s tableware will be displayed with other memorabilia without being used as a simple kitchen utensil.
“The British pottery industry has always excelled at marking events large or small,” said Simon Willis.
Add: “The great thing about ceramics is that what is produced today, if taken care of, will be there even after my son dies, because inwardly we produce something that is more enduring”.
Souvenirs dedicated to the royal family or queen, still popular as he approaches his 96th birthday, are endlessly discarded and regularly sold during every birth, wedding or royal celebration.
According to the UK Center for Retail, these souvenirs sold five million vases and pottery during the previous Jubilee in 2012 at a cost of nearly 200m (current price € 240m).
This year, four days of celebrations are planned in early June to mark the Platinum Jubilee with a military parade, big concert and thousands of popular lunches across the country. Despite Brexit and epidemics, many tourists are expected.
The Cowboys expect to sell only a few hundred trophies and plates, but he hopes his desk utensils will stay in people’s minds.
“It’s always a bit special to do something related to a royal event that is celebrated around the world,” explains Simon Willis, who dreams of having the king own one of his porcelain.
“Obviously the Queen has a huge collection,” he said. But “it is even more thrilling to imagine that some of our products will go into the hands of His Majesty”.
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