Your Shopping Cart

It appears that your cart is currently empty!


Cunard White Star Line, Art Deco British Silver plate modernism goes to sea. RMS Queen Mary, 1936.

by Jonathan Quayle |

In May 1936, the biggest ocean liner ever to put to sea for the British Mercantile Marine, set sail for the United States, that ship would become a living legend, the RMS 'Queen Mary'.

To cater for her First Class passengers Cunard White Star employed the best silversmith of the day, Elkington Plate, pioneers in the field of silver plating metal since the 1850's.

They were commissioned by CWS to produce a service that would be striking yet capture the spirit of the age and compliment the interiors of the Cunarder. The pattern became known as 'Plain Pine' or 'Pinewood', a nod to the ships striking wooden panelled interiors. The service was a beautiful balance of what would later become known as British Art Deco and modernism, the service represents one of the purest forms of modernism found onboard the ship at the time. The directors of the company, fearful of upsetting their high calibre clientele, shyed away from more striking designs that are well documented on the continental and great French ocean liners of the day. The result was a comfortable 'homely' feel, like the well loved interior of a great country estate. So the silver service is one of the closer examples to the movements seen in Europe at the time. 

The service proved an instant success, it was quickly rolled out through the fleet, it even found its way on the aging giants Berengaria & Aquitania, one can only imagine what  this stream lined service looked like being used within the confines of the heavy and oppressively carved faux rococo Edwardian interiors of this former ships of state, the contrast must have been striking. The service was rolled out fleet wind, later used on all the company's post war fleet and in use until the late 1960's, only being superseded by the advent of the service designed by Eric Clemments for QE2 in 1969, on the remaining Cunard fleet.

Arrivals this week, a rare ice pail, dated 'Z' for 1936, as featured in the well known design magazine, The Studio, March 1936.

A selection of articles from the 'Plain pine' service created for the RMS 'Queen Mary', including a beautifully formed ice pail, and a are 17" huge waiters cocktail tray dating from 1935, a whole year before she entered service.


Comments (0)

Leave a comment