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    

Vintage Tupperware Christmas Holiday Mugs, Plates & Coasters/lids 17 Piece SetBlue Ridge Southern Pottery Plates Lot Of 4 Christmas Tree Mistletoe Dishes SetSpode Christmas Rose Dessert Tray Platter1924 Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate "schooner At Sea Christmas Night"1951 Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate. "christmas Angel"Vintage Spode England Cookie Sandwich Serving Tray Platter Christmas Tree 13+ "1935 Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate ***kronborg***1927 Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate "helmsman At The Wheel Christmas Night"Santa Claus, Hot Air Baloon, Kids, Christmas Tree, Doll, Plate 5.25" Vintage Versace Rosenthal Christmas Glory 2004 PlateSanta Claus, Car, Package, Kids, Christmas Tree, Doll, Gun, Plate 5.25" Vintage Lot Of 4 Spode Blue Room 8.5 Inch Christmas Plates (#1, 3, 4 & 5) Mint Condition1941 Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate "danish Church"Nail Stamp Stamping Image Plate Print Nail Art Template Diy Nail Art Xmas T-6Beautiful Wedgwood Blue Jasperware Christmas Plate & Two Bells1pc Xmas Snowflake Nail Art Stamping Template Image Plate Born Pretty Bp-l032 Santa Claus, Blimp, Kids, Boat, Christmas Tree, Pkg, Doll, Plate 5.25" Vintage Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate 1955 Fano GirlRoyal Albert Christmas Magic Old Country Roses Plate Christmas At Home1911 Bing & Grondahl Christmas Plate - "angels And Shepherds"4 Christmas Scotty Dog Plates By 222 Fifth~pie/salad~green/red Plaid Trim~cute!!Merry Brite Christmas Dinner Plate Dish Set Santa Service For 8 New In Box! Exc!Mary Engelbreit Scottie Christmas Mini Plate - Set Of 4 With Box1959 Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate - "christmas Night"Christmas Xmas Nail Art Stamp Template Image Plate Born Pretty #01 Nail ToolFiesta Ware Christmas Tree Oval Platter And Dish 75 Anniv. OrnamentFrankoma 1975 Bird In Hand Christmas Card 2 3/4" Plate Grace Lee Milton SmithJohnson Brothers Large 10&5/8" Merry Christmas Plate, Friendly Village,ironstone1912 Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate8 Pfaltzgraff Heritage Christmas Tree Salad Luncheon Plates Mint Cond.Born Pretty Bp-l032 Christmas Snowflake Nail Art Stamping Template Image PlateXmas Snowflake Nail Art Stamp Template Image Plate Born Pretty Bp-l032Christmas Xmas Nail Art Stamp Stamping Template Image Plate Born Pretty Bp01Xmas Snowflake Nail Art Stamp Template Image Plate Born Pretty Bp-l032Johnson Brothers, Merry Christmas, 17.5" Platter, Friendly Village, England RareBatman Collector Edition Plate -2005 Christmas Holiday #499 Out Of 1000Villeroy & Boch Naif Christmas Laplau Round Serving Platter Chop Plate 12” Royal Copenhagen Plate Little Mermaid At Wintertime 1962 ChristmasHlc Fiestaware Tis The Season Christmas Luncheon Plate. Beautiful!(4) Spode Christmas Tree Salad Plates 8" Original Box4 Spode Christmas Tree Salad Plates Green Trim #3324 EnglandRoyal Albert Christmas PlateBlue Eidge Southern Pottery Plate Dish Christmas Tree Present China Unique OldWedgwood Christmas Plate Tower Bridge 1975 In Box #91929 Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate. "grundtvig Church"Vintage1990 Royal Copenhagen Christmas Collector Plate, Danmark, Tivoli TreeHarley Davidson Christmas Plates, Ornaments & Figurines Lot Deal, 9 Pieces, Nr!Mcdonalds Plates Seasons, Christmas, Easter, Nugget HalloweenChristmas Xmas Theme Nail Art Stamp Template Image Plate Born Pretty Bp01Christmas Diy Image Stamp Stamping Plates Manicure Template Nail Art PlateChristmas Diy Image Stamp Stamping Plates Manicure Template Nail Art PlateHot Christmas Diy Image Stamp Stamping Plates Manicure Template Nail Art PlateBlock Spal Portugal Whimsy Christmas 1992 -- Set Of 3 Dinner Plates 10 5/8" Nr4 Spode Christmas Tree Dinner Plates Green Trim #3324 England1985 Belleek 9" Christmas Plate Sprig Of Heather4 Crate&barrel Snowman Glass Dessert Plates Christmas Winter Arcoroc FranceWedgwood Christmas 1980 Blue Jasperware Plate - St. James PalaceRoyal Copenhagen 1967 Christmas Plate VintageWedgwood Christmas 1988 Blue Jasperware Plate - Old Observatory Greenwich1975 Belleek Christmas Plate - Celtic Cross - Excellent Condition