De Porceleyne Fles commemorative plates

From our collection we show you these astronomy and space related items

See also Rembrandt total solar eclipse plate here


Return of Comet Halley in 1910

"Het Kometen Jaar" - "The Comet Year"


De Porceleyne Fles - date code AE 1909

Artist - Jacobus Frölich Snr. - work period 1889 to 1929


This is a rare piece and was only the 3rd commemorative plate that Fles actually issued (though a few one-offs were made in the 1870's - 90's). The Royal Delft factory does not know how many were actually made. This was told to us personally on a recent visit (October 2003). Our piece is in superb condition. Only the merest hint of crazing. Looks like the day it left the factory.

About this plate and comets.

The depiction of Comet Halley itself is the stylized one with the words in capitals - "HALLEY". in the centre. You can also see above this depictions of the constellations Aquarius and Gemini. These were the two constellations that Comet Halley passed through as it was seen in the night sky. It was seen from about February to July 1910.

You can see to the upper left of the plate another smaller depiction of a comet with the designation "1910A". The "A" indicates that this comet was the first to be seen in the sky in January of 1910. The second comet would be "1910B or "1910b" and so on. This part of the plate actually refers to another comet which was so bright that it was seen during the day. This comet has been called - "The Great Comet of 1910" or "The Daylight Comet of 1910" or "Winter Comet 1910". It was brighter than Comet Halley.

January 2010 is the 100th anniversary of 'The Daylight Comet of 1910'.

When we asked about the details on the plate during a visit in October 2003, Royal Delft were unable to help as there were little or no records. An employee said that maybe only five or so were ever produced.

Here is an interesting bit of trivia about Comet Halley from Stuart.

Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)
Throughout his life, Twain was aware that he was born when Comet Halley was visible. He predicted that he would die when it returned - and he was right! When Mark Twain died on April 21, 1910, Comet Halley was once again visible in the sky. In 1909 he wrote:-

"I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835.
It is coming again next year and I expect to go out with it.
It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don't go out with Halley's Comet.
The Almighty has said, no doubt: 'Now here are these two unaccountable freaks;
they came in together, they must go out together'."

Mark Twain

The 1986 return of Comet Halley



De Porceleyne Fles - date code DE - 1986
Artist - Jos. L.P.M. van der Giessen - work period 1962 to present

Very rare commemorative plate on the 1986 return of Comet Halley. Only 42 were made and this is number 3. The date of 9 February 1986 on the plate was the closest the comet came to Earth.

Launch of the very first artificial satellite by the USSR

"Sputnik" - 4 October 1957


De Porceleyne Fles - date code CB - 1957

Artist - H. de Jong - work period 1951 to 1984


One of a mini series of 7 plates relating to the space missions. The plates are of Apollo 8, Apollo 11, Sputnik, Apollo Soyuz, Skylab & Kohoutek, First Astronauts and the 1986 return of Comet Halley. All of them designed by Marcelius de Bruijn. This Sputnik plate still has the retailers sticker which reads - Focke & Meltzer. A'Dam-Den Haag.

The first astronaut - Yuri Gagarin - USSR - 1961



De Porceleyne Fles - date code CF - 1961
Artist - Leo Hartsuiker - work period - 1953 to 1972

From the same launch pad at the Baikonur cosmodrome that saw Sputnik 1 launced in 1957, Yuri Gagarin was blasted into space on Vostok 1 to become the first man to orbit the Earth. He completed one orbit lasting 103 minutes. This was 12 April 1961.

Apollo 11 - first men on the moon - July 1969



De Porceleyne Fles - date code CN - 1969 - Dutch language version

Artist - J. Boot - work period 1950 to 1994


The exploration of another world. One of the greatest achievements made by humankind. To land men on the moon and return them safely to earth. Designed by Marcelius de Bruijn. The plate above, which is in Dutch, would have been made for the home market. The lower plate, in English, was for the export market. With original factory sticker. Any marks or shadings are photographic reflections, the plates are in perfect condition.



De Porceleyne Fles - date code CN - 1969 - English language export version

Artist - Paul G. Bartels - work period 1968 - present


Apollo 8 - first men to circle the moon - December 1968



De Porceleyne Fles - date code CN - 1969

Artist - unknown


The first men to leave the confines of earth and journey to the moon. They were in orbit over the Christmas period in 1968. Designed by Marcelius de Bruijn. This plate in English, would be for the export market. Any marks are photographic reflections, the plate is in perfect condition.

Skylab & Comet Kohoutek & Comet Wirtanen

Space Station Skylab and the observation of Comet Kohoutek + Rosetta mission to Comet Wirtanen




De Porceleyne Fles.

Made for the Rosetta mission to Comet Wirtanen.

Very rare item.

De Porceleyne Fles - date code CT - 1974

Number 17 in a limited edition of 1000

Artist - H. de Jong - work period 1951 to 1984


Skylab was the world's first large space station. Launched on May 14 1973 by a Saturn V Rocket. Assembled from Saturn V and Apollo components, Skylab was to serve as a laborarory for 9 months carrying out scientific experiments including solar observations in space until February 1974.

Comet Kohoutek (C/1973 E1) earned a bad reputation by not living up to the media hype, including stories about it being possibly the "Comet of the Century". It seems that comets that are entering the inner solar system for the first time (as Kohoutek) have much slower rises in brightness than do comets that have made many journeys through the inner solar system. So this is why it was not as bright as anticipated!


Photograph of Comet Kohoutek taken by members of the lunar and planetary laboratory photographic team from the University of Arizona, from the Catalina observatory with a 35mm camera on January 11, 1974.






Apollo/Soyuz Mission - July 1975



De Porceleyne Fles - date code CU - 1975

Number 112 in a stated limited edition of 1000. It is thought, however, that possibly as few as 150 were actually ever produced. These plates are extremely rare. We have never seen another one.

Artist - D. Hoesinn Semmen - work period 1954 to 1994


This mission was the final flight of the US Apollo program. It was the first spaceflight where two spacecraft from different nations docked in space. On the successful docking between the two spacecraft were the words - 'Soyuz and Apollo are shaking hands now'. The crew signed certificates and exchanged commemorative items. Flight crew were: Apollo - Thomas P. Stafford, Vance D. Brand & Donald K. Slayton. For Soyuz - Alexey A. Leonov & Valery N. Kubasov.

We are grateful to our friends John & Cherry Laurance ('Cherob' from De Looier Antique Centre in Amsterdam) for finding this for us. They found it in Australia and saved it for us knowing we had been looking for many years to add this final plate to our collection. They surprised us with it during a recent (October 2007) visit to Amsterdam. Thanks John & Cherry!


This final addition now completes the De Porceleyne Fles space commemorative plates collection.





Three plates in the series are shown here below that were photographed at the Royal Delft factory by Kim and include the original master drawing for Skylab & Kohoutek by Marcelius de Bruijn and the Apollo/Soyuz mission of 1975.



Photographs from Royal Delft by Kim Lindley.

With grateful thanks to Rick Erickson & Peter Cameron and to Jessica van Erkel from Royal Delft for sending us the picture below .