“Two or three people came in and bought it,” said Matthew Quinnthe owner’s son, Paul Quinn, and the head of the nearby Quinn auction house. “I don’t know if they’re going to put it on eBay or if they want to get it before anyone else gets it.”
We may not be able to have diamond-encrusted tiaras or mink-encrusted robes, but we can get an Elizabethan letter opener or an Prince Charles and Princess Diana egg cup. As for why we do this, Quinn has a few theories.
Some collectors have a certain kitsch, but he thinks more collectors of royal memorabilia will be drawn to the fairytale connotations of princesses and princes, queens and kings. The neighborhoods around Buckingham Palace are full of shops dedicated to the avid royal family.
“Over the last century, Americans have been buying,” Quinn said.
Queen Elizabeth II’s face featured on banknotes around the world
These things make their way through our luggage to America like invasive beetles. Ultimately, most of it goes to antique stores, thrift stores, garage sales and auction houses like Quinns, where it always finds a buyer.
“We’ve been importing from the UK for many years,” Quinn said. “Every time we go, we make more money with the royal collection in suitcases than with boxes full of British furniture.”
Almost any budget has it. Falls Church Antique Annex Royal Mugs on West Broad Street start at about $20.Or you can buy a stoneware cup made in 1902 for a coronation for $675 Edward VII.
“A high-end product like the Royal Doultons is in the middle hundreds to thousands,” Quinn said. “So many different manufacturers make coronations and jubilees. A better manufacturer can offer better prices and be less tacky. Older stuff does have more value, in part because it’s worth less.”
The store has quirky items like Queen Horse Brass, or the buckled metal rings used to hold the bridle straps on horses, and a TV tray decorated with pictures of Elizabeth and her. Prince Philipperfect for watching “The Crown” while eating.
“It’s amazing what they’re wearing,” Quinn said. Of course, we put our own royalty version on the keepsake. The entire display case at the Falls Church Antique Annex is filled with American political memorabilia.
“A pen Barack Obama Quinn said the picture on it looked nothing like what we’ve seen in the UK. “But I don’t think we do it to the same extent.”
With the exception of royal collectibles and a few categories like comic books and baseball cards, people aren’t collecting as much as they used to, Quinn said. Interest and value in the Hummel and Lladró statues have plummeted. The same goes for the collection plate.
“We can’t sell china cabinets these days,” Quinn said. “Nobody wants to buy them.” Chinese cabinets are large pieces of furniture designed to be crammed with cumbersome stuff.They are anathema to someone who grew up in the age of minimalism Marie Kondo.
Quinn, 47, is younger than the generation that prized china cabinets, a generation that spent time and money finishing their stamps, coins or Franklin Mint baubles. He said he and his wife don’t collect large quantities of either type, preferring to buy interesting single items to talk to them. He said young people prefer experiences over material things.
“At my house, we’d have bread and dinner in a great funky bowl with a great bottle of old wine,” he said. “We’d rather spend money that way than line the top of the dining room wall with Bing & Grøndahl collection plates.”
But a plate with royalty on it? People still seem to want it. You can imagine what’s already in stores in the UK, eventually making its way to the US: King Charles IIIsoon to a mug near you.