Royal Copenhagen
Company typeSubsidiary
Founded1 May 1775; 249 years ago (1775-05-01)
HeadquartersDenmark, Copenhagen
Plate with flower decoration, c. 1905-1910

Royal Copenhagen, officially the Royal Porcelain Factory (Danish: Den Kongelige Porcelænsfabrik), is a Danish manufacturer of porcelain products and was founded in Copenhagen in 1775 under the protection of Danish Dowager Queen Juliane Marie. It is recognized by its factory mark, the three wavy lines above each other, symbolizing Denmark's three water ways: Storebælt, Lillebælt and Øresund.[1][2]

Early years

Modern Musselmalet or "Blue Fluted" pattern dinner service
Pieces of the "Flora Danica" dinner service, Christiansborg Palace

Starting in the 17th century, Europeans, long fascinated by the blue and white porcelain exported from China during the Ming and Qing dynasties, began to imitate the precious ware.[3] The Royal Copenhagen manufactory's operations began in a converted post office in 1775. It was founded by chemist Frantz Heinrich Müller who was given a 50-year monopoly to create porcelain. Though royal patronage was not at first official, the first pieces manufactured were dining services for the royal family.[4] When, in 1779, King Christian VII assumed financial responsibility, the manufactory was styled the Royal Porcelain Factory.

The factory's pattern No. 1, still in production, is "Musselmalet", "mussel-painted", called "Blue Fluted" in English-speaking countries. The "mussel blue" is cobalt. The discovery in 1772 of a rich vein of cobalt in Norway, the junior part of the joint kingdom, was quickly developed using some nearby water power into an industry, grinding cobalt to a fine dust to incorporate in ceramic glazes and glass manufacture. The mellowed Blaafarveværket site is a tourist attraction today. During the first half of the 19th century cobalt rivaled fisheries as the greatest source of wealth obtained from Norway. Many of the German porcelain manufactories in the 19th century produced a version of intense blue "echt Kobalt" decor combined with patterned gilding, using the Norwegian cobalt from Denmark.

In 1790, Royal Copenhagen was commissioned by the king to produce a "Flora Danica" dinner service, with gilded edges and botanical motifs copied from the ongoing illustrated Flora Danica.[5] It was intended as a gift for Catherine the Great; Royal Copenhagen has produced hand-painted pieces of "Flora Danica" to this day.

Vase with Japanese wild carp, shape by Arnold Krog and Soren Bech Jacobsen, 1887, decorated by August F. Hallin, 1888, porcelain

In 1851, Royal Copenhagen showed its production at The Great Exhibition in London. In 1868, as a result of royal companies' privatization, the Royal Porcelain Factory came into private hands, though the "Royal" designation was retained.

In the mid-19th century the many large European porcelain companies generally stood aloof from artistic developments such as Japonisme, and the Arts and Crafts movement, concentrating on tableware, and often struggling to throw off what had become the deadening influence of Rococo and Neoclassical styles. In the 1870s most continued to produce an eclectic variety of revivalist styles, though sometimes experimenting with glazes, as at Meissen porcelain, which began to produce monochrome vases from 1883.[6]

The first major porcelain company to seriously change its styles was Royal Copenhagen, which made radical changes from 1883, when it was bought by Aluminia, an earthenware company. Arnold Krog, an architect under 30 with no practical experience of the industry, was made artistic director the next year, and rapidly shifted designs in the same directions art pottery was exploring, commissioning many painters to design for the factory. Japanese influences were initially very strong. The new wares soon won prizes at various international exhibitions, and most of the large porcelain makers began to move in similar directions,[7] causing problems for the smaller art potteries.

Shortly after Aluminia's acquisition, Royal Copenhagen production was moved to a modern factory building at Aluminia's site in Frederiksberg, on the outskirts of Copenhagen. At the Exposition Universelle (1889) in Paris, Royal Copenhagen won the Grand Prix, giving it international exposure.

Current company

In recent years, Royal Copenhagen acquired Georg Jensen in 1972, incorporated with Holmegaard Glass Factory in 1985, and finally Bing & Grøndahl in 1987. Royal Copenhagen was a part of a group of Scandinavian companies, Royal Scandinavia, together with Georg Jensen, and was owned by a Danish private equity fund, Axcel. Following Axcel's acquisition of Royal Scandinavia, Holmegaard Glasværk was sold in a MBO, and a controlling interest in the Swedish glass works Orrefors Kosta Boda was sold to New Wave Group.

In December 2012, Axcel sold Royal Copenhagen to the Finnish listed company Fiskars, which was founded in 1649.[8]

The company now produces its products in Thailand.[9][10][11]

Patterns (original manufacturer in parentheses)

Seagull dinnerware, designed by Fanny Garde of Bing & Grøndahl in 1895

Most famous

New and currently in production

Blue Fluted Plain (1775, revised in 1885), White Fluted (1775), Blue Fluted Mega (2000), Black Fluted Mega (2006), Princess (1978), Blue Fluted Half Lace (1888), Blue Fluted Full Lace (1775, revised in 1885), blomst (-), Hav (2019), White Elements (2008), Blue Elements (2011), Multicoloured Elements (2008), Star Fluted Christmas (2006), Flora (2012), Blue Palmette (2004), White Fluted Half Lace, Flora Danica (1790) [12]



Vase designed by Gerhard Heilmann, 1891

Christmas plates

The tradition of Christmas plates started hundreds of years ago in Europe, when wealthy people presented their servants with cakes and sweets, served on decorative plates of wood or metal at Christmas time. The servants referred to these gifts as their Christmas Plate. In 1895 Bing & Grøndahl produced the first Christmas plate made from porcelain, with the date inscribed, and has made one each year since. In 1908 the Royal Copenhagen factory followed suit. Each year these plates are made in limited quantities and have been collectable for over 100 years. Each plate is made in the year of issue only, after which the mould is destroyed, and the design is never made again.[14]

1917 Christmas Plate
Royal Porcelain manufactory on Købmagergade in Copenhagen (19th century)

The themes since 1908 are:[15]

Year Christmas Plate Notes
1908 Madonna & Child
1909 Danish Landscape
1910 The Magi
1911 Thief Plate
1911 Landscape
1912 Christmas Tree
1913 Frederiks Kirke Frederik's Church
1914 Helligåndskirken Church of the Holy Ghost
1915 Danish Landscape
1916 Shepherds in the Field
1917 Vor Frelsers Kirke Church of Our Saviour, Christianshavn
1918 The Shepherds
1919 In The Park
1920 Mary & Child
1921 Aabenraa Market
1922 Three Singing Angels
1923 Landscape
1924 Sailing Ship
1925 Christianshavn
1926 Christianshavns Kanal
1927 Ship's Boy at Tiller
1928 Vicar's Family
1929 Grundtvigs Kirke Grundtvig's Church
1930 Fishing Boats
1931 Mother & Child
1932 Frederiksberg
1933 Storebæltsfærgerne Great Belt ferries
1934 Eremitageslottet Hermitage Hunting Lodge
1935 Kronborg
1936 Roskilde Domkirke Roskilde Cathedral
1937 Copenhagen
1938 Østerlars Church
1939 Ship on Greenland Ice
1940 The Good Shepherd
1941 Village Church
1942 Bell Tower
1943 Flight Into Egypt
1944 Winter Scene
1945 Peaceful Motif
1946 Zealand Church
1947 The Good Shepherd
1948 Nødebo Kirke Nødebo Church
1949 Vor Frue Kirke Church of Our Lady
1950 Boeslunde Church
1951 Christmas Angel
1952 Christmas In The Forest
1953 Frederiksberg
1954 Amalienborg
1955 Fanø Girl
1956 Rosenborg Slot Rosenborg Castle
1957 The Good Shepherd
1958 Grønland Greenland
1959 Christmas Night
1960 The Stag
1961 Training Ship Denmark
1962 Den lille havfrue The Little Mermaid
1963 Højsager Mill
1964 Fetching The Tree
1965 Little Skaters
1966 The Blackbird At Christmas
1967 The Royal Oak
1968 The Last Umiak
1969 Old Farmyard
1970 Christmas Rose & Cat
1971 Hare In Winter
1972 In The Desert
1973 Train Homeward Bound
1974 Owl
1975 Marselisborg Slot Marselisborg Palace
1976 Vibæk Mill
1977 Immervad Bridge
1978 Greenland Scene
1979 Choosing The Tree
1980 Bringing Home The Tree
1981 Admiring The Tree
1982 Waiting For Christmas
1983 Merry Christmas
1984 Jingle Bells
1985 The Snowman
1986 Christmas Holidays
1987 Winter Birds
1988 Copenhagen Skyline
1989 Old Skating Pond
1990 Tivoli Gardens
1991 Santa Lucia Fest
1992 The Royal Coach
1993 Arriving Train
1994 Home From Shopping
1995 The Manor House
1996 Street Lamps
1997 Roskilde Domkirke Roskilde Cathedral
1998 Boat Scene
1999 The Sleigh Ride
2000 Trimming The Tree
2001 Watching The Birds
2002 Winter In The Forest
2003 Season's Greetings
2004 Awaiting The Christmas Train
2005 Hans Christian Andersen House
2006 Kronborg
2007 Christmas in Nyhavn
2008 Copenhagen Christmas
2009 Christmas at Amagertorv Amager Square
2010 Christmas in Greenland
2011 Waiting For Santa Claus
2012 Sailing The North Sea
2013 Copenhagen Harbour
2014 Hans Christian Andersen
2015 Christmas Days
2016 Ice Skating In Copenhargen
2017 Walk At The Lakes
2018 Christmas Tree Market
2019 Meeting in the field
2020 Church Of Our Lady Vor Frue Kirke
2021 Winter in the Garden
2022 Frederiksborg castle

Further reading

See also


  1. ^ Nottelham, Steen (2016-12-21). "Den Kongelige Porcelainsfabrik". Den Store Danske.
  2. ^ "Blue signature strokes | Three Blue Waves". Retrieved 2024-02-27.
  3. ^ Lu Chenglong. "A Brief Introduction to Chinese Ceramics in Sweden". Retrieved 2007-08-19.
  4. ^ "Danish Porcelain Pipes". Retrieved 2015-10-28.
  5. ^ [1] Archived August 17, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Battie, 161–162; Mundt, 23–26,
  7. ^ Battie, 162–163; Mundt, 30–31
  8. ^ [2] Archived March 16, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Royal Copenhagen Makes Moves into Thailand". Retrieved 2015-10-28.
  10. ^ Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. "ROYAL COPENHAGEN TO THAILAND". Archived from the original on 2008-05-03. Retrieved 2008-04-11.
  11. ^ "Field trip to Royal Copenhagen Thailand". Retrieved 2015-10-28.
  12. ^ "Royal Copenhagen". Retrieved 2015-10-28.
  13. ^ "Danish Porcelain Pipes". Retrieved 2015-10-28.
  14. ^ "Empire Gifts - More Info about **Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plates from 1908 to 2014". Retrieved 2015-10-28.
  15. ^ "Royal Copenhagen :: Royal Copenhagen/Christmas Plates (1908-2015)". Retrieved 2015-10-28.