The Christmas-plate tradition originated in Denmark in 1895, when a former Royal Copenhagen designer named F.A. Hallin suggested to his new boss, Harald Bing of Bing and Grøndahl, that he consider a new type of relief-painting technique to make plates. At first, Bing was not especially interested in Hallin’s idea, but he was looking for a way to compete with Royal Copenhagen (the two firms merged in 1987). Bing seized on the idea of a special Christmas plate about seven inches in diameter using Hallin’s technique, and then added a twist—the molds for the plate would be destroyed to ensure the plate’s eventual collectability.

Hallin’s first plate was titled "Behind the Frozen Window," and it featured a blue-and-white, wintery silhouette of Copenhagen framed from below by ice crystals, like the kind that form on a picture window. Hallin designed Christmas plates for Bing and Grøndahl in 1896 (a crescent moon over snow-dusted trees) and 1897 (blue sparrows feeding in the snow) before stepping aside to let a new designer have a turn. Jens Peter Dahl Jensen designed five Christmas plates between 1899 and 1906 ("The Crows Enjoying Christmas" from 1899 is particularly rare), and Johannes Achton Friis gets credit for 14 plates between 1917 and 1931 (the "Skating Couple" from 1927 is especially charming).

The designer of several Icelandic Christmas plates made between 1928 and 1930 is unknown, but those plates are the most collectible, and expensive, Bing and Grøndahl Christmas plates ever produced. Less costly but highly prized are the 10-inch Bing and Grøndahl Christmas Jubilee plates, which were first produced in 1915 to commemorate the 1895 plate. Jubilee plates were produced every five years thereafter—the small production run of the 1940 plates makes them the most collectible of the bunch.

It took Royal Copenhagen more than a dozen years to respond to Bing and Grøndahl’s Christmas enterprise. In 1908, Christian Thomsen designed a six-inch blue plate called "Mary with Child," whose tone was more overtly religious than most plates by Bing and Grøndahl. Depending on the interior image, Royal Copenhagen plates were framed by bands of darker or lighter blue, sometimes decorated with pine cones or birds, but always with the year and the word Jul or Julen, which is Danish for Christmas. Many Royal Copenhagen plates were also produced for non-Danish-speaking markets. These featured the words Weihnachten (German), Noel (French), Vanoce (Czechoslovakia), and Kertmis (Dutch). From 1910 to 1941, plates were even made bearing the English word Christmas on them.

More recently, other notable china manufacturers have produced commemorative Christmas plates. In 1969, Wedgwood of England produced its first Christmas plate, a blue Jasperware piece with a white relief image of Windsor Castle at its center. And in 1981, Lenox of North Carolina made a Christmas wreath plate to honor the State of Virginia, the first of the 13 U.S. Colonies. Plates for the other 12 colonies followed each year.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Papa Teds Place

Papa Teds Place

The late Theodore H. Althof, Jr's beautiful collection of vintage dimestore cardboard Christmas 'putz' village hous… [read review or visit site]

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

The Bowes Museum: Ceramics

This gallery showcases highlights from the 5,000 items in the museum's ceramics collection dating from 1500-1900. I… [read review or visit site]

Antique Christmas Lights Museum

Antique Christmas Lights Museum

George Nelson's incredibly detailed chronicle of vintage Christmas tree lighting. Browsable by decade and special t… [read review or visit site]

Ceramics at The V&A

Ceramics at The V&A

A great reference on ceramics from the Victoria and Albert Museum. Learn about different ceramics techniques and st… [read review or visit site]

Bohemian Christmas Decorations

Bohemian Christmas Decorations

This simple site showcases over 500 artistic Gablonz glass bead antique and vintage Christmas tree ornaments, made … [read review or visit site]

Old Soviet Christmas Cards

Old Soviet Christmas Cards

This site showcases over 1000 old Soviet Christmas and New Years cards from 1950 to 1990. Browse through page after… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Royal Copenhagen Small Christmas PlatesChristmas Plate Royal Copenhagen 1951 / Piatto Di Natale Lot 16 Spode White Green Christmas Tree Porcelain Plate Bowl Dish Set Hg1Ten Bing & Grondahl Copenhagen Denmark Christmas Plates 1930 To 1939 Antique 1924 Bing & Grondahl B & G Christmas Plate ~ Lighthouse & Man In RowboatAmazing Santa In Blimp Antique Porcelain Childrens Christmas Victorian Plate Christmas Vacation Griswold Blackhawks Official Ccm Hockey Jersey *name Plate*Eight Bing & Grondahl Copenhagen Denmark Christmas Plates 1940s 200 Disposable White 9" Plastic Plates - - Party Ware Light Weight High Quality 1902 B&g Bing & Grondahl Christmas Plate ~ Gothic Church ~ MintSpode Christmas Tree Set Of 5 Dinner Plates S3324 England Excellent Condition!!!Spode S3765-a9 Christmas Tree Grove Salad 7-3/4" PlateSeven Bing & Grondahl Copenhagen Denmark Christmas Plates 1923 To 1929 Villeroy Boch Naif Christmas Lot Of 4-plate, Coffee Pot, Coffee Cup, BowlGold Plate Christmas Sleigh Ride Brooch Pin W Crystal P179Ten Bing & Grondahl Copenhagen Denmark Christmas Plates 1950 To 1959 8 Villeroy & Boch Naif Christmas Salad Plates 8-1/4 Inch Pattern Was Retired Bing & Grondahl Copenhagen Denmark Christmas Plate 1937 Christmas Guests By Bus 1962 Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate The Little Mermaid At WintertimeRoyal Copenhagen Christmas Plate 1960 Vintage1961 Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate "denmark" Training Ship SkoleskibetJohnson Brothers Christmas Old Britain Castles Snack Plates And One Matching MugGold Plate Merry Christmas Brooch Pin W Swarovski Crystals P257Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate-"jul 1911" - Wooden Fence With Sheaf Of CornRoyal Copenhagen Christmas Plate 1957 Vintage1961 B&g Bing & Grondahl Christmas Plate “winter Harmony” "lille Egern Sad"Nikko Happy Holidays Christmas Tree Dinner Plate Green Trim And Swirl Edge MintRoyal Copenhagen Small Christmas PlatesRoyal Copenhagen Small Christmas PlatesAntique Royal Copenhagen Christmas Noel Plate 1943 NoËl Niels Thorsson1903 B&g Bing & Grondahl Christmas Plate Happy ExpectationsNikko Happy Holidays Christmas Tree Dishes 12 Pc Dinner Plate Cup And Saucer SetAntique 1961 Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate "the Training Ship"Antique 1924 Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate Schooner At Sea On Christmas NightRoyal Copenhagen Small Christmas Plates1965 Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate Little Skaters Kai Lange1964 Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate Fetching The Christmas Tree Kai LangeBrand New Williams Sonoma Twas The Night Before Christmas Serving Platter Dish1904 B&g Bing & Grondahl Christmas Plate "view Of Copenhagen From...."Royal Copenhagen - 1920 Christmas Plate , Villeroy & Boch Christmas Naif Square PlateBing & Grondahl Copenhagen Denmark Christmas Plate 1956 Christmas In CopenhagenDept56 Rare Ceramic Rect. Plate Circa 2005 "santa's Reindeer Games" Xmas DishWedgewood Blue Jasperware Lot 1969 Christmas Plate,trinket Dish,and AshtrayA Vintage Sterling Silver Rim Rosenthal Pine Cone Winter Christmas Plate1961 "the Training Ship" Danmark Royal Copenhagen Christmas PlateRoyal Copenhagen Small Christmas PlatesSue Zulauf Christmas Cut Outs New Santa Claus B/w Holiday Plate 8.5 Inch Bhfo#3017a Plate # Strip Of 5 1995 Christmas - Retail $20.00Royal Copenhagen 1982 Christmas Plate - Waiting For Christmas1967 Norfolk Island Pane Of 50 Christmas Stamps Muh W Selvage, Plate Number 4284Avon Christmas Plate Set 1973-1980Rare 1913 B&g Christmas Plate ''bringing Home The Tree'' Blue White Porcelain Rare 1915 B&g Christmas Plate ''chained Dog'' Blue & White Porcelain Four Bing & Grondahl Copenhagen Denmark Christmas Plates 1960 To 1963 Cracker Barrel "season Of Glory" Christmas Plate W/gold Snowflakes Peace & JoyBing & Grondahl Copenhagen Denmark Christmas Plate 1923 Ermitage Castle Bing & Grondahl Copenhagen Denmark Christmas Plate 1927 Couple Skating Vintage 1976 Belleek Christmas Plate / 8 5/8 Inch / DoveVintage 1980 Belleek Christmas Plate / 8 5/8 Inch / The Hedgehog