December 20, 2011

Bjorn Wiinblad Christmas Plates

This very timely and appropriately festive post is from guest writer Karen Andersen in Denmark, who has a collection of one of my favourite series of Wiinblad plates - The Gospel Plates. I have two of them, and they are breathtakingly beautiful.  I think this series is one of Wiinblads best. The size of them helps make them so impressive on display (at about 28cm in diameter) A huge thank you to Karen for doing this - as anyone who has a blog will know - researching, putting together and editing, checking, formatting a post of this size is a significant amount of work. So over to Karen.....Ray.

here are three different series of Bjørn Wiinblad Christmas plates, all produced by Rosenthal.'The series I am collecting and will write about, are the porcelain Christmas Gospel plates from 1971-82.

At the same time, a series of glass plates in bluish colors with similar motifs was released. From 1983 to 1994 a series of Christmas carol illustrations also ran. All three series each lasted twelve years – twelve seems to have been a sort of magic number for Wiinblad plates.

The Christmas Gospel plates are held in strong colors and gold, and are quite oriental in their look. The prices for them differ a lot on eBay and other net auctions. But they have maintained a reasonable price range over the years, unlike the classic Danish blue Christmas plates from this period, which have decreased tremendously.

The first plate from 1971 is much rarer than the following, so it normally costs about four times as much as the later plates. The plates from 1972-74 are also quite rare and mostly cost twice as much as the plates from the mid-seventies. And finally, the last three plates from the eighties are slightly more expensive than the previous. So, my collection is from 1974 to 1982 minus the -81 plate, which I still hope to find for reasonable money.

All the plates are labeled “Weihnachtsteller” on the back, and below that they have a German text telling what they depict. The sequence of the scenes is a bit random, which is rather disappointing when you think of the perfectly disposed story on Wiinblad’s old Nymølle month plates.

It has puzzled me why Wiinblad has chosen these particular motives and sequences. First we have Mary with child and the Epiphany on four different plates – almost a separate series before the others. Then we have the Annunciation – which is how it all started as far as I know.

Then comes the worship of the shepherds, and after that we are off to Jesus’ childhood, interrupted with random pictures of angels with instruments. It sort of makes sense that the final picture is of Jesus’ baptism – that way we have covered conception, birth and baptism.

But I miss pictures of Joseph and Mary going to Bethlehem, Joseph talking to the innkeeper, the angel talking to the shepherds, the star above the crib, and probably numerous other traditional pictures from the Christmas Gospel. Of course you do not have to interpret the Gospel in the traditional way, but this depiction either lacks a plan or was planned by someone who had had too much Christmas gløgg to drink. Sorry Wiinblad, I adore your works, but what were you thinking of here?

......That being said, I love the bright colors and patterns, and actually it is okay that these plates are rather far from our usual Christmas ornaments, because we Danes have the strange habit of keeping Christmas plates up all year.

Finally, to get us all into the proper Christmas Spirit, I give you a Christmas stamp with a Santa, designed by Bjørn Wiinblad in 1968:

Karen Andersen, December 2011.

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