Royal Copenhagen

Last updated
Royal Copenhagen
Type Subsidiary
Founded1 May 1775
Headquarters Denmark, Copenhagen
Products Porcelain
Parent Fiskars
Plate with flower decoration, c. 1905-1910 Plate with flower decoration, Royal Porcelain Factory, Copenhagen, c. 1905-1910, porcelain - Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt - Darmstadt, Germany - DSC00757.jpg
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 straits: Storebælt, Lillebælt and Øresund.


Early years

Modern Musselmalet or "Blue Fluted" pattern dinner service Royal Copenhagen 1669.JPG
Modern Musselmalet or "Blue Fluted" pattern dinner service
Pieces of the "Flora Danica" dinner service, Christiansborg Palace Kobenhavn 2013 (34) (cropped).JPG
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. [1] 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. [2] 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 . [3] 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 Vase with Japanese wild carp, form by Arnold Emil Krog and Soren Bech Jacobsen, 1887, decor by August F. Hallin, 1888, Konigliche Porzellanmanufaktur Kopenhagen, porcelain - Brohan Museum, Berlin - DSC04071.JPG
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. [4]

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, [5] 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. [6]

The company now produces its products in Thailand. [7] [8] [9]

Patterns (original manufacturer in parentheses)

Seagull dinnerware, designed by Fanny Garde of Bing & Grondahl in 1895 Mowe Royal.jpg
Seagull dinnerware, designed by Fanny Garde of Bing & Grøndahl in 1895

Most famous

New & 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)




Vase designed by Gerhard Heilmann, 1891 Gerhard heilmann per royal copenhagen porcelain man. vaso 1891.jpg
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. [12]

1917 Christmas Plate Royal Copenhagen 1.jpg
1917 Christmas Plate
Royal Porcelain manufactory on Kobmagergade in Copenhagen (19th century) Den kongelige Porcelaensfabrik.jpg
Royal Porcelain manufactory on Købmagergade in Copenhagen (19th century)

The themes since 1908 are: [13]

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

Further reading

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Flora Danica</i> Atlas of botany native to Denmark

Flora Danica is a comprehensive atlas of botany from the Age of Enlightenment, containing folio-sized pictures of all the wild plants native to Denmark, in the period from 1761 to 1883.

Faience Tin-glazed pottery

Faience or faïence is the conventional English language name for fine tin-glazed pottery.


Spode is an English brand of pottery and homewares produced by the company of the same name, which is based in Stoke-on-Trent, England. Spode was founded by Josiah Spode (1733–1797) in 1770, and was responsible for perfecting two extremely important techniques that were crucial to the worldwide success of the English pottery industry in the century to follow.

Soft-paste porcelain

Soft-paste porcelain is a type of ceramic material in pottery, usually accepted as a type of porcelain. It is weaker than "true" hard-paste porcelain, and does not require either the high firing temperatures or the special mineral ingredients needed for that. There are many types, using a range of materials. The material originated in the attempts by many European potters to replicate hard-paste Chinese export porcelain, especially in the 18th century, and the best versions match hard-paste in whiteness and translucency, but not in strength. But the look and feel of the material can be highly attractive, and it can take painted decoration very well.

Meissen porcelain First European hard-paste porcelain

Meissen porcelain or Meissen china was the first European hard-paste porcelain. Early experiments were done in 1708 by Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus. After his death that October, Johann Friedrich Böttger continued von Tschirnhaus's work and brought this type of porcelain to the market, financed by Augustus the Strong, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony. The production of porcelain in the royal factory at Meissen, near Dresden, started in 1710 and attracted artists and artisans to establish, arguably, the most famous porcelain manufacturer known throughout the world. Its signature logo, the crossed swords, was introduced in 1720 to protect its production; the mark of the swords is reportedly one of the oldest trademarks in existence. In English Dresden porcelain was once the usual term for these wares, especially the figures; this is because Meissen is geographically not far from Dresden which is the Saxon capital.


Aluminia was a Danish factory of faience or earthenware pottery, established in Copenhagen in 1863. Philip Schou (1838-1922) was the founding owner of the Aluminia factory in Christianshavn. In 1882, the owners of Aluminia purchased the Royal Copenhagen porcelain factory.

Royal Copenhagen 2010 plaquettes are a series of small, collectible plates produced by Danish factories, Aluminia and Royal Copenhagen. The numbered and named series of 3-1/4” (80 mm) faience miniplates or "plaquettes" are generally round, though a few are square. The most common colors are moderate to deep blue on a white background, though some have additional colors.

Imperial Porcelain Factory, Saint Petersburg

The Imperial Porcelain Factory, also known as the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory, is a producer of hand-painted ceramics in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It was established by Dmitry Ivanovich Vinogradov in 1744 and was supported by the Russian tsars since Empress Elizabeth. Many still refer to the factory by its well-known former name, the Lomonosov Porcelain Factory.

Art pottery

Art pottery is a term for pottery with artistic aspirations, made in relatively small quantities, mostly between about 1870 and 1930. Typically, sets of the usual tableware items are excluded from the term; instead the objects produced are mostly decorative vessels such as vases, jugs, bowls and the like which are sold singly. The term originated in the later 19th century, and is usually used only for pottery produced from that period onwards. It tends to be used for ceramics produced in factory conditions, but in relatively small quantities, using skilled workers, with at the least close supervision by a designer or some sort of artistic director. Studio pottery is a step up, supposed to be produced in even smaller quantities, with the hands-on participation of an artist-potter, who often performs all or most of the production stages. But the use of both terms can be elastic. Ceramic art is often a much wider term, covering all pottery that comes within the scope of art history, but "ceramic artist" is often used for hands-on artist potters in studio pottery.

Bing & Grøndahl

Bing & Grøndahl was a Danish porcelain manufacturer founded in 1853 by the sculptor Frederik Vilhelm Grøndahl and merchant brothers Meyer Hermann Bing and Jacob Herman Bing. The trademark backstamp for Bing & Grøndahl (B&G) porcelains is the three towers derived from the Coat of Arms of Copenhagen. The company's Seagull dinnerware series became known as the "National Service of Denmark" in the 1950s when it was found in one tenth of all Danish households. In 1987 the company merged with its primary competitor, the Royal Porcelain Factory under the name Royal Copenhagen.

French porcelain

French porcelain has a history spanning a period from the 17th century to the present. The French were heavily involved in the early European efforts to discover the secrets of making the hard-paste porcelain known from Chinese and Japanese export porcelain. They succeeded in developing soft-paste porcelain, but Meissen porcelain was the first to make true hard-paste, around 1710, and the French took over 50 years to catch up with Meissen and the other German factories.

Jens Peter Dahl-Jensen Danish sculptor

Jens Peter Dahl-Jensen was a Danish sculptor.

Gertrud Vasegaard, née Hjorth, (1913–2007) was a Danish ceramist, remembered above all for her tea set (1956) which was included in the Danish Culture Canon. A designer for Bing & Grøndahl and Royal Copenhagen, she also had her own workshop where she collaborated with her daughter Myre.

Danish Christmas plates are collectibles which are issued annually by porcelain manufacturers in Denmark. The first annual Christmas plate was produced by Bing & Grøndahl in 1895, with Royal Copenhagen following suit in 1908. Blue and white in color, and bearing the year of issuance, the mold is discontinued after Christmas Eve.

Ingeborg Plockross Irminger Danish sculptor

Ingeborg Plockross Irminger (1872–1962) was a Danish artist who is remembered both for her sculptures and for the miniature porcelain statues of animals and human figures she designed while working for Bing & Grøndahl. A bronze cast of her 1903 bust of the writer Herman Bang was installed on Sankt Annæ Plads in Copenhagen in 2012.

Vienna porcelain

Vienna porcelain is the product of the Vienna Porcelain Manufactory, a porcelain manufacturer in Alsergrund in Vienna, Austria. It was founded in 1718 and continued until 1864.

Ludwigsburg porcelain

Ludwigsburg porcelain is porcelain made at the Ludwigsburg Porcelain Manufactory founded by Charles Eugene, Duke of Württemberg, on 5 April 1758 by decree as the Herzoglich-ächte Porcelaine-Fabrique. It operated from the grounds of the Baroque Ludwigsburg Palace. After a first two decades that were artistically, but not financially, successful, the factory went into a slow decline and was closed in 1824. Much later a series of other companies used the Ludwigsburg name, but the last production was in 2010.

Philip de Lange House

The Philip de Lange House, built in association with a nitrary in the 1750s, is the Rococo-style former home of Dutch-Danish architect and master builder Philip de Lange at Prinsessegade 54 in the Christianshavn neighborhood of Copenhagen, Denmark. It was from 1877 to 1864 part of the Royal Porcelain Manufactory's Christianshavn factory and is now hidden from the street by a school building from 1865. The house was listed on the Danish registry of protected buildings and places in 1932. It is now part of Christianshavn School and houses the school's after school programmes.

Fanny Garde

Fanny Susanne Garde [1855–1928) was a Danish porcelain painter who worked for the Bing & Grøndahl porcelain factory from 1886. She began by decorating the company's Heron dinnerware set (Hejrestellet), which proved to be an award-winning success in underglaze painting. She went on to contribute many of her own designs, especially vases decorated with flowers or fruits, sometimes also working with crackle-glazed porcelain. She is remembered in particular for decorating Bing & Grøndahl's Seagull set (Mågestellet), featuring a white bird in a blue sky.


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