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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 April, 2005, 13:34 GMT 14:34 UK
Fans 'panic buy' 8 April mementos
by Paula Dear
BBC News

Anyone who has ever had to alter a wedding date will know it causes endless hassles.

Charles and Camilla wedding tea towel
Worth putting away for the grandchildren's financial future?

But the world event that sparked the postponement of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles' nuptials has had more knock-on effects than most.

In all the furore following the death of the Pope should some pity be reserved, for example, for the makers of Royal wedding memorabilia?

They had, after all, been churning out souvenirs at short notice since the wedding was announced, only to see the date changed from 8 to 9 April.

And what future for those tea towels, mugs, spoons, key rings and fine china bearing the now defunct date?

It seems it may not be as disastrous as first thought for retailers.

It's panic buying out there - it's the world gone bonkers
Eric Knowles

Royal fans are apparently rushing to snap up the "novelty" mementos dated 8 April, either for their quirkiness value, or in the belief they will be worth a few quid in the future.

Online buyers and sellers are busy exchanging the incorrectly dated crockery, bookmarks and mouse mats (one currently bidding at 32) on eBay.

And the phones have been busy at Stoke-on-Trent pottery firm Aynsley China, which is hurriedly changing its designs after it made a four-piece collection bearing Friday's date.

Managing director Gavin Williamson said 500 people had called on Monday to order items with April 8 on.

'Quality first'

But it seems that those rushing to snap up the souvenirs might do better to admire them for their intrinsic beauty, rather than their potential as an investment.

According to antiques expert Eric Knowles - of the BBC's Antique Roadshow and new programme The 20th Century Roadshow - most buyers are likely to be disappointed.

Royal Collection mugs
Is amateur antiques just a mug's game?

"It's panic buying out there. It's the world gone bonkers.

"The idea of buying something for 10 or 20 and thinking that in a few years it will be worth 30 - well, there are better ways of making money," he said.

He said anyone looking to make a decent profit on Royal wedding memorabilia - whether the date is right or wrong - should go for "quality" first.

"You're better off spending 150 and finding in 15 years or so it's gone up to 200 or 250."

Wedgwood china and pieces from makers such as Royal Crown Derby usually "come good", he says.

But Wedgwood dropped the idea of commemorating the couple's wedding because of a lack of time between the announcement and the marriage date.

Charity auction

Their 1953 Queen Elizabeth II coronation mug would now fetch 200-300, he said, while a Festival of Britain one would get around 500, said Mr Knowles.

"The problem for most potters this time is that there has not been enough time to produce the goods," he added.

Royal Crown Derby was just short of printing the gold date on its collection - including a 120 'loving cup' - but the company has been "inundated" with callers wanting to buy samples marked with 8 April, said a spokeswoman.

"We have decided to auction the samples in aid of charity, probably the Prince's Trust," she said.

Royal Mint commemorative coins
Royal Mint is having to remodel its commemorative coins

That an incorrect date on quality souvenirs would boost value is open to question anyway. Mugs produced for the crowning of Edward VII in 1902 - and later reprinted after it was postponed due to illness - are more valuable if they bear the correct date, for example.

But such considerations seem to have had little impact ahead of the latest Royal wedding.

At the lower end of the market trade remained robust, according to one Windsor shop owner.

At Dhillons gift shop, on the High Street next door but one to the Royal couple's wedding venue, sales of tea towels, spoons, mugs, tin openers and badges were still roaring after the date was changed, said owner Kashmir Dhillon.

Customers like the fact they had goods with the wrong date on they believed it would later become a "collector's item", she said.

"Many of our customers are tourists and can't come back again to get a mug with the new date on," she said. "They are happy with the one they have bought."

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