UPDATE 8/22/2022: Thanks to Ryan from the M*A*S*H Matters Podcast for sending me some information from Loretta Swit’s book SwitHeart: The Watercolour Art & Animal Activism of Loretta Swit. We can now identify the artist of the cast painting as Bernard “Bernie” Fuchs (October 29, 1932 – September 17, 2009). More information on Fuchs and some of his other works can be seen on Artnet!
As M*A*S*H was winding down in 1982 and 1983, products flooded the market to capitalize on the success of the series and its final season. You’ve probably seen many products including bed sheets, clothing, hats, books, toys, and much more. Two of the items that have been in my collection for over ten years is this porcelain plate and this porcelain post card. What drew me to them initially was the artwork. The painting of the M*A*S*H cast was used to promote the finale by 20th Century Fox Television and CBS. I have several advertising posters in my collection now, but I have not been able to find any information on the artist. All of them say “Property of 20th Century Fox Television” and not much else. I like the artwork, and I think it works well in these two products. Let’s take a look at each of these unique items!
We’ll begin with the plate since it was the first one that I purchased. I have not been able to find much information on the company Royal Orleans, but I have found some other commemorative items they made including porcelain figurines. As for this plate, it is individually numbered and is advertised as “limited edition” but there is no indication of how many were made. The plate was released for the final season of M*A*S*H with the back of the box saying, “Royal Orleans and Twentieth Century-Fox are proud to mark the final season of M*A*S*H, one of television’s highest rated shows, with this fine limited edition commemorative plate.” The number of the plate is then attached to the box on a sticker. The number is also printed on the back of the plate.
Overall, this is a very nice plate. It is well printed, and it is in very condition considering it is over 40 years old. I really like that the original box and certificate of authenticity are included. The artwork is very striking and it would make a nice decoration for any M*A*S*H fan. While this item does not exactly fit the scope of my collection, which primarily focuses on items from the production of the series, it was the artwork that drew me to it. It also helps the tell the story of the hype around the final season of M*A*S*H which concluded with the record breaking finale.
The Post Card
After buying the plate, I learned that there was also a matching commemorative, porcelain post card. I was confused by the whole concept of a “porcelain post card” until I purchased this one. The box itself was the post card! The front of the box features the cast artwork. Meanwhile, the back has a place to write addresses and place a stamp. Inside the box, the porcelain post card is in a protective inner box and styrofoam tray. Like the plate, the post card includes a certificate of authenticity from Royal Orleans, and they are individually numbered.
Personally, I would be very nervous to mail a porcelain post card! But it is a very unique item. The back of the porcelain post card features a cardboard backing with the years that M*A*S*H ran and the text “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” meaning that this item must have been created after the finale aired, or it was created once the title of the finale had been announced. The back has some space to write a note and includes the unique number from the certificate of authenticity.
Both of these items are part of the hype surrounding the final season of M*A*S*H. But I am left with several questions. Why create a post card out of porcelain? Were other porcelain post cards created? What happened to Royal Orleans? And most importantly, who is the artist responsible for this artwork? These items are frequently available on eBay, especially the plate, and either is a great way to display a great piece of M*A*S*H artwork.