In 1965, Kay & Co Ltd commissioned a production run of Royal Worcester “round ash trays” (or RATS, as they were known to the Royal Worcester staff).  The trays were made of “Fine Bone China” and were fully marked as Royal Worcester pieces.

It is understood that over 100,000 sets of these dishes were produced for the company.  They were presented as a goodwill gesture to its agents, customers and, occasionally, staff.  The office of the Chairman was responsible for their distribution and personal letters from the Chairman often accompanied the dishes thanking the agent or customer for their efforts.

The “pin dishes” or “pin trays”, as they are now known, are approximately 4 inches in diameter and are edged in gold.  A set comprises of two dishes, each with a scene of Worcester that was especially drawn for the commission by Royal Worcester artists.  They were always sent out in presentation boxes, which could be either green or in later years, blue and marked as “Royal Worcester”.

One scene depicts the cathedral at Worcester, as viewed from the western bank of the River Severn.  The reverse of the current £20 note in circulation (2004) has a similar view.  The other scene is of the Edgar Tower that guards, to this day, the entrance to the cathedral precincts.

The Worcester Cathedral view

The rear of the dishes

The Edgar Tower view

The “real” Edgar Tower in 1913

In the year of the Silver Jubilee, 1977, Kays commissioned a pin dish from Royal Staffordshire and sent these out to its agents as goodwill gestures.  Although no records have yet been found to confirm the total production run, there must have been many thousands produced. The dish is approximately 12 cms in diameter and has a distinctive scalloped edge with gold trim.  The dishes were accompanied by a silver-coloured note of thanks. 

The Royal Coat of Arms (face)

The reverse of the dish

The “silver” note

This limited edition of some 5000 models (model reference D865/7) was made for Kays by Corgi, the well-known die-cast manufacturer, in the early 1980s.  The model features the “new” Kays logo that was launched in 1982.  The basic model is still used today by Corgi for promotional models for a wide range of companies.

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