The 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.
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.”
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.
It may be cold outside right now, but I don’t have to be. I own a pair of Possum Pam‘s Possum Fur Nipple Warmers that I picked up on a trip to New Zealand in 2002.
Stay warm and save the New Zealand forests at the same time!
The possum is considered a pest in New Zealand. The non-native animal was brought to the country by European settlers in the early 1800s for the establishment of a fur industry. Without a natural predator, the possum population grew out of control, causing an ecological nightmare for indigenous plants and wildlife (including the beloved kiwi bird, a national icon).
Conservation efforts have helped reduce the number of wild possum. Fur from wild-caught possums can be found in a wide range of products in New Zealand, from bed spreads to these fabulous nipple warmers. But as Possum Pam’s founder Pam McKinstry has said, “There would have to be a lot of cold nipples out there to stem this tide of destruction.”
If you’re going to be in New Zealand in the near future, help save the forests of New Zealand and pick up a set of nipple warmers. Belly or willy warmers are also available.
Cost: $9 NZD or approximately $6.50 USD
Here are a few other products made from possum:
This felted fiord jacket from Untouched World is made from Ecopossum, a blend of Merino wool, possum and silk. $595 NZD or $430 USD.
Accent your décor with this chair throw from Eco-Luxury Fur for $1250 USD.
This possum fur hat from Possum New Zealand has vintage style with contemporary details for $155 NZD or $112 USD.
Heather bought this bracelet a gift shop near Waikiki Beach in 2004.
This silver bracelet with starfish charms is no ordinary piece of jewelry to its owner Heather Gooch
, co-owner of Gooch & Gooch
. Not only is it a fond memento of her trip to Hawaii in 2004, it also became a source of comfort on her flight home.
“I’ve always been a nervous flier,” she says. “When I saw there were ten starfish, I realized it was the same as a decade of beads on a rosary. I could say the rosary discreetly on my way home on the plane without freaking out other passengers.”
Purchased at a gift shop near Oahu’s famous Waikiki Beach, the bracelet’s charms are inlaid with mother of pearl.
“I wanted something nice,” Heather remembers. “This was a once in a lifetime trip and I wanted something nice to remember it by. I still wear it six years later. If there’s an important meeting that I have to go to, you might find it on my wrist. Truth be told, I see it as my good luck charm.”
Cost: approximately $12
Can’t get to Hawaii? Here are a few starfish bracelets you can order online:
The Elsa Peretti Starfish Bracelet from Tiffany & Co. for $1,195.
Sterling Silver Polished Starfish Link Bracelet for $25.19.
The pearl starfish bracelet from Island Bangles for $45.