“Say it with Pottery”: The Coronation Loving Cup, 1937 Calendar

4 May 2023

With the upcoming Coronation of King Charles III, we look at a special piece of memorabilia produced for the Coronation of King George VI in 1937 – one of 30 Loving Cups commissioned by the Stoke City FC Chairman, Sir Francis Joseph.

Coronation Cup 1

What is a loving cup and why were they made?

A loving cup is one designed to be used at ceremonies and special occasions. It’s meant to be passed around so everyone can take a drink. This one has three handles and was made at the Spode Factory of Messrs W.T. Copeland and Sons.

The cup has three panels. The first has the Royal Coat of Arms and lists the different parts of the British Empire. The second states that it was presented by the Stoke City Chairman Sir Francis Joseph, while the third depicts a football scene with Stoke City players on the attack.

At the time, Sir Francis Joseph explained that ‘As the “Ambassador of the Potteries” I naturally follow faithfully my slogan “Say it with Pottery,” so that I have in mind to give worthy publicity to the pottery industry and the City of Stoke-on-Trent.’

He proposed that they be used to drink the monarch’s healthy every New Year Day. Furthermore, to ensure they remained unique, after they had been presented at a special luncheon, the President of the Football Association smashed the moulds.

Coronation Cup 2

Who were they given to?

These were presented to the King, the President of the Football Association, the President of the Football League, the Lord Mayor of Stoke, Sir Francis Joseph, each of the clubs in the First Division of the Football League, the two sides who won promotion from the Second Division*, the British Museum, and finally, Glasgow Rangers FC. Rangers received one because they came to Stoke to play in a charity game to raise money for the Helditch Colliery Disaster Relief Fund, where 30 men had died in a coal mining accident.

The Football clubs and organisations received their cups at a special luncheon held in Stoke in August 1937. The local newspaper reported on it and photographed the moment when the casts were smashed. Among the speakers at the dinner was the sportswriter and former England amateur international Ivan Sharpe. It’s interesting to see that even then, the game’s worldwide popularity was being celebrated, with Sharpe joking that, “if you fall out of an aeroplane to-day, you fall on to a goal-net.”

Staffordshire Evening Sentinel - 27 August 1937

Courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive and Reach PLC.

One cup did change hands in the years afterwards. Richard McBrearty of the Scottish Football Museum explained to us that in 1947, Sir Francis Joseph was a guest of the Scottish Football Association for a game at Hampden Park between Great Britain and Europe. Before the game he gifted his cup to the Scottish Football Association who were described as ‘both intrigued and impressed by the gift.’

Are these still used today?

Yes, Stoke and several other English clubs, along with Glasgow Rangers still use them to toast the monarch’s health, just as Sir Francis Joseph requested. Some, like Leicester City and Chelsea display their cups in the grounds. Others have been retired for safekeeping with the Scottish National Football Museum looking after the one given to the Scottish Football Association. We have two – the one presented to Preston North End FC and the one presented to the Football League. Both are cared for in our archive at Preston, alongside many other items in our Preston North End and Football League collections.

* The full list of English clubs is Arsenal, Birmingham City, Blackpool, Bolton Wanderers, Brentford, Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Derby County, Everton, Grimsby Town, Huddersfield Town, Leeds United, Leicester City, Liverpool, Man City, Man United (Second Division runners up), Middlesbrough, Portsmouth, Preston North End, Sheffield Wednesday (Second Division champions), Stoke City, Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers.

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