Category Archives: Authentic

The royal marriage is moving merchandise in the U.K.

Royal Wedding commemorative tankardThe minute the engagement of Prince William of Wales to commoner Kate Middleton was announced to the public back in November, souvenir manufacturers were clamoring for a piece of the action. T-shirts, thimbles, stickers and mugs (among other trinkets) are all widely available in tourist shops all over the United Kingdom, but the only officially sanctioned souvenirs are bone china commemorative items offered by the royal family itself.

On a visit to Windsor Castle last week, the commemorative plate ($62) and pillbox($38) were sold out. “We can’t keep them on the shelves,” the shopkeeper told me. There were still a few tankard mugs ($54) available, so I picked one up for the Souvenir Museum collection.

Made in Staffordshire, which has a long history of producing highly prized ceramics, the exclusive design shows intertwined initials in gold and silver with the coronet of Prince Williams and the wedding date of April 29, 2011. Each handmade piece also features a decorative pattern of doves, white ribbon and silver, gold and gray hearts set against a pale gray-striped background. The pieces are individually finished by hand using 22-carat gold and presented in a blue box wrapped in white tissue paper printed with designs inspired by the wall hangings in the Clarence House.

The items can be purchased at gift shops located at the royal palaces and residences, such as Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace, or online at royalcollectionshop.co.uk. Profits go to the upkeep and conservation of the Royal Collection, one of the largest collections of paintings and works of art in the world built up over five centuries by successive British monarchs.

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Want your own fine china to commemorate your own special occasion? Hudson and Middleton, one of the china manufacturers tapped to produce the royal wedding souvenirs, will create personalized china starting at $199 for a five-piece place setting. According to the company’s website, “personal logos, crests, initials or tasteful works of art portraying your dog, car, house, yacht or horse can be supplied.”

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Filed under Art, Authentic, England, Europe, For Her, Home Furnishings, Souvenir, United Kingdom

One person’s Mexican sugar mold is another’s bludgeon

Before becoming a favorite home décor item, wooden molds like this one were hard at work creating cones of brown sugar in Mexico. But as I found out when I tried to get one home on an airplane, a sugar mold isn’t just a great souvenir; it turns out one person’s Mexican sugar mold is another’s bludgeon.

Too large for my checked luggage, I affixed a rope handle and then slipped it only the belt of the x-ray machine. In a pre-9/11 world, little thought would have been paid to my travel find. But with post-9/11 goggles on, security told me that it would not be allowed as a carry-on. “It could be a bludgeon,” I was told.

Luckily, I had plenty of time to get back to the check-in counter and check the mold through to my final destination. However, with a tight connection, you can kiss that puppy goodbye. USAToday travel writer Laura Bly’s recent travels sidelined a precious memento. Read the saga here.

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Filed under Authentic, Home Furnishings, Mexico, Uncategorized, Wood Carving

Shopping of Olympic proportion

In Vancouver, shopping is proving to be an endurance sport for anyone wanting to buy official Olympic merchandise.

Taking home the gold is The Hudson’s Bay company store, which is the only place to pick up a piece of Olympic history and news outlets have reported that fan are spending hours in line to take home a souvenir from the games.

Some of the most popular purchases are a $44 long sleeve t-shirt, a $50 men’s hooded fleece and a $400 authentic Team Canada Vancouver 2010 hockey jersey.

Team gear is not the only souvenir available in Vancouver; there are also the official Olympic mascots, including a Sasquatch (or yeti) called Quatchi and three other figures that combine aboriginal mythological figures. There are also hats, scarves, magnets, mouse pads for computers, blankets, bookmarks, coffee cups, pens, and replicas of the Inukshuk stone statue that adorns the official Olympic logo.

If you can’t make it to Vancouver, visit www.vancouver2010.com to order your souvenir.

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Filed under Apparel, Authentic, Canada, For Her, For Him, North America, Sports, Vancouver

Woodrow Wilson House extends exhibition of presidential mementos

Artillery Shell

Cracked artillery shell painted by French artist Émile Gallois (1882-1965). The painting depicts the town of Pont-à-Mousson in Lorraine, France. Strategically situated on the Moselle River, Pont-à-Mousson was the scene of heavy fighting during World War I. Photo courtesy the Woodrow Wilson House.

What do you get the president who has it all?

Ideas abound at the Woodrow Wilson House in Washington, D.C., which has extended its exhibit of 101 treasures from around the world through January 17, 2010. Included in the exhibition are an impressive collection of gifts, curios, and awards, many of which were presented by foreign dignitaries over the course of President Wilson’s two terms in office.

Among the treasures on display is a hand-painted French faience platter, weighing 32 pounds, presented during Wilson’s historic trip to Europe in 1918-1919. A stained glass medallion, also from France, features medieval glass salvaged from the Cathedral of Rheims, which was damaged by German artillery fire during World War I. Hand-painted porcelain plates, tributes from the King and Queen of Belgium, depict peaceful scenes of Belgium before the war. Elaborate gold and silver “freedom caskets” acted as offerings from the grateful people of Britain.

A lavish collection of gifts of state from Abyssinia (Ethiopia), including crowns, javelins, and a lion’s mane cape, were presented to President Wilson by the first Ethiopian diplomatic mission to the United States in 1919. Two sets of samurai armor were gifts from Japan. Other treasures include intricate ivory scrimshaws, examples of Inuit art, porcelain, silver and a beaded belt rumored to have been made by Pocahontas—an ancestor of Wilson’s wife, Edith Bolling Wilson.

Check out more photos of items in the exhibit here.

Wilson Peak rock

The top of Wilson Peak in the French Alps. Presented to President Wilson by the city of Chamonix, France in 1918. The mountain, formerly bearing the name of German explorer Dr. Piltscher, was renamed Wilson Peak by the Association of Guides and the Municipal Council of Chamonix on August 15, 1918. During the ceremony the American flag was planted on top of the mountain and at dusk the glacier crevices were illuminated by fireworks. Photo courtesy the Woodrow Wilson House.

Silver Pendant Head piece

Triangular silver pendant headpiece with silver tassels. This headpiece was among the gifts presented to President and Mrs. Wilson by the first Abyssinian (Ethiopian) mission to the U.S. in July 1919. Photo courtesy the Woodrow Wilson House.

Micronesian fan

Tortoise shell and coconut fiber fan from the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific. A traditional Micronesian handicraft, fans of this kind were used as personal accessories or for fanning the embers of a fire. Photo courtesy of the Woodrow Wilson House.

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Filed under Authentic, D.C., North America, Souvenir, Uncategorized, United States, Washington