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    

200 Disposable White 9" Plastic Plates - - Party Ware Light Weight High Quality Lot Of 36 Tiny Plastic Square Plates ~ ~ Party, Event, Wedding, Birthday, SaladsVtg Set 8 Signed Spode England Christmas Tree 10 3/4" Porcelain Dinner Plates NrVilleroy & Boch Naif Christmas Serving Platter 10 1/8" Vitro Porcelain 1748 DishVilleroy & Boch Naif Christmas Tray Tab Handled Serving Platter Pickle DishFranklin Mint Sterling Silver Under Mistletoe Norman Rockwell Christmas PlateSue Zulauf Christmas Cut Outs New Black Holiday 4pc Plate Set 8.5 Inch BhfoFranklin Mint 1972 Christmas Plate Norman Rockwell Solid Sterling Silver 7.1 OzBing & Grondahl B & G - Jule After 1924 - Collectors Christmas Plate The Joys Of Christmas Lenox Set Of 12 Dinner Plates 11" Made In U.s.a 1996Bing & Grondahl B & G - Jule After 1905 - Collectors Christmas Plate Bing & Grondahl B & G - Jule After 1912 - Collectors Christmas Plate Set 10 Signed Spode English Porcelain Christmas Tree 7 7/8" Salad Dessert PlatesMint Villeroy & Boch Naif Christmas Porcelain 12" Round Chop Plate Cake PlatterSue Zulauf Christmas Cut Outs New Red 4pc Snowman Plate Set 8.5 Inch BhfoBing & Grondahl B & G - Jule After 1945 - Collectors Christmas Plate Bing & Grondahl B & G - Jule After 1911 - Collectors Christmas Plate Mint Villeroy & Boch Naif Christmas Porcelain Square Handle Cake Cookie Plate #2Bing & Grondahl B & G - Jule After 1928 - Collectors Christmas Plate Bing & Grondahl B & G - Jule After 1950 - Collectors Christmas Plate 1943 Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate - Flight Into Egypt - Rare. Free Shipping.Johnson Bros. Friendly Village Christmas 15 1/4" Oval Scalloped PlatterBringing Home Tree Norman Rockwell Franklin Sterling Silver 1st Christmas Plate1910 Bing & Grondahl B&g Christmas Plate ~ Mint Old Organist6 Noritake #175 (pattern 16034) - Christmas Ball 6 1/2" Bread Plates - Nm Bing & Grondahl B & G - Jule After 1917 - Collectors Christmas Plate Bing & Grondahl B & G - Jule After 1955 - Collectors Christmas Plate Bing & Grondahl B & G - Jule After 1933 - Collectors Christmas Plate The Joys Of Christmas Lenox Set Of 6 Salad Plates Made In U.s.a 1996 RetiredSue Zulauf Christmas Cut Outs New White Hoilday 4pc Plate Set 7 Inch BhfoWendell August Forged Bronze Christmas Plate DishBing & Grondahl B & G - Jule After 2004 - Collectors Christmas Plate Vintage Spode Christmas Tree Dinner Plate 10 3/8" England S3324Marlborough.1876.qv Cover.1d Red Plate No.170 'marlborough' Xmas Day Duplex D/sThe Carolers By Norman Rockwell Franklin Mint Sterling Silver Christmas PlateWaechtersbach Germany Red Christmas Tree 10" Dinner Plates - Set Of Four1913 Bing & Grondahl B&g Christmas Plate Mint1962 Royal Copenhagen Christmas Plate "little Mermaid At Wintertime" **Villeroy & Boch Christmas Naif Salad Plates Set Of 4Royal Copenhagen 1920 Christmas Plate – The Virgin Mary With Christ ChildBing & Grondahl B & G - Jule After 1935 - Collectors Christmas Plate Lot Of 6 Bing & Grondahl B&g 1964 65/66/67/68/69 Annual Christmas PlatesRoyal Copenhagen 1964 Fetching Christmas Tree Plate Denmark Blue White No BoxBing & Grondahl B & G - Jule After 1932 - Collectors Christmas Plate Villeroy & Boch * French Garden Noel 1 Salad Plate Christmas Holiday Gibson Christmas China Holiday ~ Holly Berries ~ 8 Dinner PlatesSet Of 2 Vintage Holiday Red Tupperware Luncheon Plates 8" Square ChristmasRoyal Copenhagen 1958 Annual Christmas Collector Plate Sunshine Over GreenlandBing & Grondahl B & G - Jule After 1997 - Collectors Christmas Plate Sue Zulauf Christmas Cut Outs New Dear Santa White Holiday Dinnerware Plate BhfoOriginal Christmas Tree By Cuthbertson - Small Cute Shapped PlateGold Plate Merry Christmas Brooch Pin W Swarovski Crystals P257Sue Zulauf Christmas Cut Outs New Dear Santa Plate White Plate 10 1/2 Inch Bhfo2 Fitz And Floyd St Nicholas Christmas 7.50" Dessert Salad Bread PlatesCopeland Spode Christmas Tree Magenta Dinner Plate Old Mark England MintNoritake 175/16034 Christmas Ball Two 7.5" Plates ~ Green StampR. Hétreau Haviland Limoges 12 Days Of Christmas Decor Plates France, 1970-1981Rare Pottery 1968 Porsgrund Norway Church Christmas PlateGibson Christmas Holly China Dinner/serving Set Of 4 Plates Excellent UnusedRoyal Copenhagen 1963 Windmill Christmas Plate Denmark Blue White No Box Or Cert