By Anne Cowne
The pair of Royal Copenhagen porcelain vases painted by M. Kjølner are my favourite items. There is also a bit of a story behind why we have two.
In 1960, when Lloyd’s Register celebrated its bicentenary, the Danish Committee presented the head office with a Royal Copenhagen vase showing the Danish Royal Yacht Dannebrog sailing past the renaissance castle Frederiksborg Slot, one of the Danish Royal palaces situated north of Copenhagen. Like most of Royal Copenhagen’s porcelain, it has a unique quality and soft colouring but also a quiet style which to my eyes is wonderful and makes me happy to be able to look at something beautiful and cheers me upon a normal working day.
In the early 1970s, 71 Fenchurch Street had a bit of a revamp and at some stage during that period the vase disappeared. After some efforts in trying to trace the vase, not only by the superintendent of the building at that time, Vic Emms, but also the police as it had been reported missing, finally an insurance claim was made and payment received. A replacement was ordered.
The replacement shows the royal yacht in the foreground passing the royal castle.
Some five years after the claim was made, Mr Emms, had a phone call from a man who had bought ‘a rather attractive vase’ in Portobello Market, London, a couple of years earlier, for use as a stage prop. He finally decided that he would sell it on and noticed Lloyd’s Register’s name on the vase. Hence the phone call wondering if we would like to buy it. This man had been using the vase for flowers when not in use as a stage prop. Mr Emms said that we would like that very much. The man wondered how he knew what he was buying and Mr Emms gave him a detailed description of the vase, then broke the news to the man that he was actually in possession of stolen goods. The man quickly said that he did not want any trouble, ‘I just want my money back’.
Mr Emms asked what he had paid for it and when he was told, he said yes we would buy it, and, we would double the amount, because at that point he knew that the figure discussed was ‘only’ 15% of the true value.
The man came to 71 Fenchurch Street straight away with the vase. Lloyd’s Register also reimbursed the insurance company, a happy ending all round. The two vases then went on to grace the Committee Smoking Room (which is no longer in existence) but are now in the Board Room.
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