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    

Christmas Plate Royal Copenhagen 1951 / Piatto Di Natale Vintage Piero Fornasetti Astrolabio Plate 1966 Christmas Italian Design 24 Cm1955 Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate Fano Girl1959 "julen At Christmas Night" Danmark Royal Copenhagen Hans Hansen Plate200 Disposable White 9" Plastic Plates - - Party Ware Light Weight High Quality Huge Lot Pottery Barn Kids Tableware - Plates, Bowls, Cups - Easter, Xmas, More!1961 "the Training Ship" Danmark Royal Copenhagen Christmas PlateVintage Rudolph Reindeer Childs Christmas Plate Green Border 7 1/4 Inches1952 Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate Gold Plate Christmas Sleigh Ride Brooch Pin W Crystal P179Set Of 4 Waechtersbach Germany 10" Christmas Tree Dinner Plates - Appear UnusedRoyal Albert Old Country Roses Christmas Tree Salad Plates (6)Royal Copenhagen 1932 Christmas Plate Mint Condition Fredericksborg StatueSue Zulauf Christmas Cut Outs New Black Holiday 4pc Plate Set 8.5 Inch BhfoRoyal Copenhagen 2011 Christmas Plate "waiting For Santa Claus"Royal Copenhagen 1950 Christmas Plate Great ConditionLot 11 B&g Bing & Grondahl Denmark Annual Christmas Plates 1964-1980Spode Christmas Tree 10.5" Dinner Plates-4 Deep Plates-add To Your Set!Royal Copenhagen 1921 Christmas Plate Mint Condition Aabenras Market PlaceA Vintage Sterling Silver Rim Rosenthal Pine Cone Winter Christmas PlateWedgwood 1969 Christmas Plate - Windsor Castle - Blue & White JasperwareRoyal Copenhagen Small Christmas PlatesGold Plate Merry Christmas Brooch Pin W Swarovski Crystals P2571939 Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate Jul " Expedition Ship In Greenland"1904 B&g Bing & Grondahl Christmas Plate "view Of Copenhagen From...."Royal Copenhagen 1936 Christmas Plate Roskilde CathedralRoyal Albert Christmas Magic Handled Cake Serving Plate Roses Gold TrimAntique Austrian Christmas Plate Victor Venner "a Check " Holly Berry DecorRoyal Copenhagen Mini Plate Christmas Ornament -- 1979 & 1985Spode 10 1/2 Inch Dinner Plate Christmas Tree Gold 75th Anniversary Msrp $60 NewSue Zulauf Christmas Cut Outs New Santa Claus B/w Holiday Plate 8.5 Inch BhfoRoyal Copenhagen 1990 Christmas Collector Plate - Christmas At TivoliRoyal Copenhagen 1964 Christmas PlatePier 1 Imports Hand Painted Ironstone 'christmas Tree' Dinner Plates (set Of 4)Lenox Christmas Trees Around The World Plate 2008 Spain Original BoxVintage Noritake Christmas Ball China - Twenty 5 1/2 Inch Serving PlatesLenox 1995 And 1996 Annual Ltd Edition Holiday Christmas Collector Plates NibPfaltzgraff Vtg Xmas 8.25 Salad Lunch Plate Yorktowne Stoneware Tree Bird Blue Vintage Christineholm Porcelaine Lars Carlson Plate Japan - Christmas ElfsCanada, 1997-2001 Full Christmas Plate Blocks On FdcsVintage Avon Christmas Plate 1975 "skaters On The Pond"Sue Zulauf Christmas Cut Outs New Dear Santa Plate White Plate 10 1/2 Inch BhfoDollhouse Miniature Christmas Plate W Gold StandQa31 Christmas Designs Nail Art Image Stamp Stamping Plates Manicure TemplateComplete Set (6) The Edna Hibel Christmas Collector's Series Plates KnowlesVintage Noritake Christmas China - 1 Serving Platter, 4 Plates, 1 Gravy BoatKnowles Disney Mickeys Christmas Carol Series First Issue Bah Humbug Plate MintCracker Barrel "season Of Glory" Christmas Plate W/gold Snowflakes Peace & JoyWilton Armatele 1982 Limited Special Edition Plate Christmas Street SceneVintage Ucagco December Christmas Poinsettia Plate Cup Saucer Lusterware1984 Christmas Plate Jefferson Pewter Historical Society Stained Glass Detail 1985 Christmas Plate Jefferson Pewter Historical Society Stained Glass Detail Spode Christmas Tree Shaped Plate Or Soapdish, New, Approx. 6.5" X 6"Rosenthal Jingle Bells 1984 Cobalt Blue Porcelain Collector Plate Bjorn WiinbladRoyal Copenhagen 1988 Decorative Christmas Plate (christmas Eve, Denmark)Rosenthal Silent Night Holy Night 1983 Cobalt Blue Plate Bjorn Wiinblad Mib1974 Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate "winter Twilight" + Pamphlet Owl Moon1970 Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate "christmas Rose And Cat" 1980 Pickard Christmas Plate Madonna & ChildLtd Ed. Franklin Mint Coca-cola Santa Plate: Merry Christmas Calls For Coke