Paragon China’s Patriotic Series
During World War 2 the British government controlled British Industry very closely, ensuring all efforts went to the war effort. China producing companies were only allowed to make limited quantities of plain white china for domestic consumption. However, they were able to apply for government permission to produce more decorative china for overseas export, primarily to Canada and the United States. The Paragon China Company took advantage of this opportunity and produced the war related Patriotic Series for export.
With a few exceptions the pieces are all marked with the Paragon double warrant back stamp. This mark was used from around 1938 till the late 1940’s. Most have the words “Patriotic Series Produced during War of Britain”. Some have “Produced In 1941” added, others don’t. They were made in basically blue, pink, yellow, mauve, buff or mint green (which was by far the most common colour). Most designs have more than one background colour.
The molds used were mostly from their ordinary tableware settings; however some were from their well-known commemorative pieces (Including the 1937 Coronation, the 1938 Munich peace conference and the 1939 Royal visit to Canada and the US). The series included cups and saucers, small pin/candy dishes, loving cups, ashtrays, mugs, plates, salt dishes and other miscellaneous pieces
Cups and saucers are the most common item and I have 14 different designs in my collection, (not counting colour variations).The decoration is normally on the inside of the cup; however some also have designs on the outside of the bowl. Some designs have plain saucers with a white or off-white center with the rest of the saucer coloured to match the cup while others have decorations and colour to match or compliment the accompanying cup.
The next most common item is the little 3 inch diameter candy/pin dishes. They have the same design elements as the corresponding cups and saucers in the series. So far I have found dishes for every cup and saucer in my collection, although I have a few pin dishes without a corresponding cup and saucer. Some, I expect, such as the “The Tower Of London” dish, are probably from small production runs where only the pin dishes were made, others like “The King (Queen) Is Still In London” are known to have matching cup and saucers but I have yet to find them.
Paragon used over 15 different themes for the series. They included, the King and Queen, the Allied War leaders (Roosevelt and Churchill), tributes to the various Armed Forces from Britain and the Commonwealth as well as tributes to the countries themselves, quotations from patriotic films, speeches and literature, and then of course, ultimate victory.
The design themes for the Patriotic Series can probably best be put into the following groups:
• The King (Queen) Is Still In London. This design has either King George or Queen Elizabeth’s likenesses with the proud slogan “The King (Queen) is still In London” reflecting the fact that they never sought refuge and left London during the Blitz. This theme is the most sought after in the series and they can be expensive to buy.
• Winston Churchill. The image of Winston Churchill was used on many different items produced for the series.
• President Roosevelt. Found primarily on cups and saucers as well as the small candy/pin dish. There are two different portraits of Roosevelt used.
• Royal Navy. This design has three warships at sea. It’s a very attractive design and was a popular theme consequently it is quite common. It’s found on many different items and they all have the motto “Britain Shall Triumph, Her Ships Plough The Sea”
• Royal Air Force. This design has two fighter planes, appearing to be Spitfires or Hurricanes, in flight. It’s probably one of the most popular designs. Also found on many different pieces. I have seen a nice mug with a floral handle go on Ebay and it went for big bucks. The RAF Crest is on the saucer. The saucer reads "Never Was So Much Owed By So Many To So Few”. The small bowl only has the RAF crest.
• Canadian Military. The following designs were tributes to the various forces in the Canadian Military:
o Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve. The small salt dish has RCNVR on it with a crest. I’ve heard tell of a cup and saucer set with these markings which I have yet to find.
o Royal Canadian Air Force. The design has the wings of the RCAF in the cup and the RCAF Flag on the saucer as well as in the cup. The crest is the only design on the small candy/pin dish.
o Royal Canadian Artillery. The salt dish design is the badge of the Royal Canadian Artillery with its two mottoes Ubique (Everywhere) and Quo fas et gloria ducunt (Where Right And Glory Lead). Underneath the badge are the initials RCA.
• The Empire and the Commonwealth: This design, displaying their shields, recognizes the efforts of members of the British Empire and Commonwealth who joined Britain in the war effort.
• Canada. There are a number of Patriotic pieces that recognize Canada and then some of the provinces specifically. I have a dish with the Quebec crest and I’ve heard of other dishes for some of the other provinces. Pieces with the Canada crest are easiest to find.
• British Cities and Landmarks. Various pieces were made for different British cities and landmarks. I have a small basket is marked “London” and a small candy/pin dish marked “The Tower Of London”. There are others known.
• The Lion Has Wings. The dish has the motto: “Fight For Freedom And Democracy”. This anti-Nazi film premiered in London on Oct. 31, 1939. Even though it was heavy in propaganda the public ate it up. It received enormous publicity and was a huge hit. Churchill praised it, and, at the time it was said, "a print smuggled into Germany produced from Hitler a threat to bomb the British movie studios." Obviously Paragon saw the opportunity and jumped on the Patriotic band-wagon.
• Longfellow Poem. President Roosevelt wrote a letter to Winston Churchill in January 1941, quoting from the Longfellow poem "The Building of the Ship." Churchill, desperate for U.S. support, found the letter "an inspiration". Paragon recognized its significance and added it to their Patriotic Series. It says” “To Mr. Churchill. Sail on, O Ship of State! Sail on, O Union, strong and great! Humanity with all its fears - With all the hopes of future years - Is hanging breathless on thy fate! Franklin D Roosevelt”
• Great Britain. A great variety of dishes were made prominently displaying the map of England with the slogan “ There Will Always Be An England”. This is one of the more common themes.
• Famous Quotations. I have found 4 different quotations for this theme in the series. All 4, have a cup and saucer and a pin/candy dish. The design elements are identical for all 4 quotations.
o Churchill’s quote: ‘We shall not fail or falter; We shall not weaken or tire. Give us the tools and we will finish the job.’
o Patriotic quote: “To the leadership and example of our King and Queen for their simple and sincere humanness and their genuine fellowship with their people”
o To the Commonwealth: “To The Splendid Response given by the British Commonwealth in this momentous struggle, to the brave sons of a great Empire.”
o Dorothy Thompson: “Never has she been more truly Great Britain than today. When you write with the trail of your scars the greatest chapter in the history of Freedom"
• St George and the Dragon. Both the Plate and the Loving Cup have the picture of St. George slaying the dragon and also two crests, one with Longefellow’s “The Building Of The Ship” poem and the other with Churchill’s “We Shall Not Fail Or Falter” speech. Ships, artillary and planes also adorn both items. I feel the 11 inch Plate and companion Loving Cup may be two of the finest display pieces ever made by Paragon.
• Victory. I’m not sure, but I presume these were produced later in the war in anticipation of ultimate victory. The first candy/pin dish features St Paul’s Cathedral with the caption “The Dawn Of Victory”. The second dish has the British Lion holding the letter V with the caption “For Victory”. I have this version in the cup and saucer, pin/candy dish and a small dessert plate.
As production records are lost to history it is not known exactly what pieces were produced in the series or in what numbers. Large quantities of some items were made and then to add mystery to the whole thing, it was reported a few years ago that Paragon would produce as few as 50 items in some runs. The probability is that many of the items ended up at the bottom of the Atlantic thanks to German U-Boats and many more were broken or simply discarded after the war. No one really knows what a complete collection looks like. The unpredictable nature of this series makes it an even more interesting item to collect. You never know what will turn up next.