Queen Elizabeth II has been the queen of Britain and the Commonwealth for almost 70 years, making her the longest reigning British monarch in history. Her coronation in 1953, a year following the death of her father King George VI, was the first widely publicised and televised British Royal event of its time. More than 100,000 people tuned in to view the event, and coronation celebrations were held not just in Britain but in Commonwealth countries worldwide.
To celebrate the Coronation, many toymakers (especially in the United Kingdom) went on to produce toys and collectibles to commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime event. Many of these vintage collectibles and toys can only be found on online auction sites today, and are widely sought after by collectors and royal enthusiasts worldwide. To get a glimpse of these valuable items in Singapore, look no further than the MINT Museum Of Toys’ own collection of toys from the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II:
1. The Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – Singapore Celebration Programme
Maker: Public Relations Office
Year of Make: 1953
Country of Origin: Singapore
Made in Singapore in 1953, this original programme from the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II is both a historical artefact and a valuable collectible. The cover drawing depicts boats on the Singapore River with notable Civic District buildings in the background including the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, the old Supreme Court, City Hall, and St. Andrew’s Cathedral. Above the drawing is the coats of arms of the Colony of Singapore, and the City of Singapore.
The programme was printed in Singapore – a Crown Colony of the United Kingdom at the time – to mark the Coronation celebrations. The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II took place on 2 June 1953 at Westminster Abbey in London, followed by the death of her father King George VI the previous year. It was the first British coronation to be televised, and was watched by over 10 million viewers worldwide. Not only is this programme a peek into the festivities of the Coronation itself, but it is also a reminder of Singapore’s colonial past.
Part of the week-long celebrations included islandwide activities, the opening of Queen Elizabeth Walk and the Esplanade Gardens, nightly processions, and even firework displays. The celebrations lasted for one week, and religious venues such as churches, mosques, and temples all held special religious services as well. On the final day of Coronation Week, a parade was held at the Padang to celebrate the Trooping of Colour (also known as the sovereign’s official birthday).
2. Coronation Series – Box D Procession
Year of Make: 1953
Material: Cardboard, Die-Cast, and Paper
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Made by British toy company John Hill & Company (or Johillco) in 1953, this cardboard and paper box set includes die-cast figurines of individuals involved in the Coronation procession of Queen Elizabeth II. The four-wheeled coach is gold, and pulled by eight horses. Figures of both the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are visible inside. Accompanying figurines include the Household Cavalry, Guardsmen of the Household Division, Royal Footmen, and other soldiers and officials.
The set comes with an instruction sheet explaining the correct positions to replicate the Coronation procession. Though simple and understated, these vintage figurines would have brought much joy to British children of the time.
Johillco stopped operations in the 1960s, making collectibles such as these even more valuable and hard to find today. Complete sets such as these can now sell for several hundred British pounds at an auction or on sites such as Ebay!
3. Queen Elizabeth II Riding Horse Figurine
Year of Make: 1988
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
The British royal family has continued to capture the attention of people worldwide throughout the years, and they are still one of the biggest drivers of tourism and visitors in the United Kingdom. Even years after the actual coronation had taken place, many British toy and memorabilia companies were still producing collectibles commemorating the event.
This 1988 die-cast figurine from Britains depicts Queen Elizabeth II riding sidesaddle on a black horse, while dressed in the uniform of one of the regiments of the Guards Division. The outfit comprises a red military jacket with a blue sash and medals, long blue skirt, and black hat with a white plume. This small figurine looks simple, but its intricate and hand painted details make it a widely desired item by royal collectors today. Britains has been famous for their die-cast miniatures since the company was first founded in the 19th century, and that craftsmanship is one reason why Britains figurines such as these have become collectibles amongst royal family enthusiasts.
Take a peek into History at the MINT Museum Of Toys
Vintage collectibles give us a glimpse into our past. While they may look simple compared to the toys and collectibles of today, they are still valuable memorabilia that hold immense value and (in some cases) nostalgic memories.
You can look forward to learning about history through toys at Singapore’s MINT Museum of Toys. Sign up for a museum membership to stay in the loop about the museum’s upcoming reopening, or follow us on social media for the latest updates.