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White Star Line, RMS Olympic & Titanic. A'la carte restaurant Regent Plate Goldsmiths & Silversmiths, silver service.

by Jonathan Quayle |

White Star Line, the silver service used within the exclusive restaurant on the RMS 'Olympic' & 'Titanic', C-1911.  Produced by Goldsmiths & Silversmiths, large hot chocolate pot.

Complete tea service, c-1911.

In 1911 when choosing the silver service that would be employed within the speciality A'La Carte restaurant as installed within the upcoming 'Olympic' class liners, White Star Line turned to a respected and well known firm of silversmiths, namely Goldsmiths & Silversmiths of London, Regents Street.

A firm more readily recognised for their skills as jewellers and diamond dealers. The firm did have a burgeoning department for silver plated wares for the high end hotel trade, and it was this pedigree coupled with a Royal Warrant for high Edwardian quality that drew White Star to chose the firm, (see advertisement in the Shipbuilder of 1911, the firm proudly celebrating the use of its 'Regent Plate' range). It is interesting that White Star chose a specialist silversmiths for a specific restaurant when they already had a very healthy ongoing relationship with the world renown firm of Elkington & Co, whom already supplied huge quantities of A1 silver plate to the whole fleet for all three classes throughout. 

 

Original advertisement as featured within the shipbuilder magazine (reprint) of 1911.

It's hardly then surprising after White Star had gone to one of the finest silversmiths of the land that they did the same with the china for the restaurants, opting for Royal Crown Darby to accompany the new silver, and commissioning a exclusive crystal service as well, such was the intent of total luxury and quality for the creme dela creme of North Atlantic 1st Class passengers. 

The Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Company Ltd were responsible for pretty much the entire silver service for the restaurants, they produced a large range of items such as tea and coffee sets, associated milk and sugar bowls, each in three differing sizes, toast racks, again in three sizes, multiple lidded entree dishes in varying sizes, various sized platters for both meat and fish dishes and of course the majority of the cutlery used in the restaurant (see pictures). Although its thought Elkington produced knives and forks for the after dinner fruit/desert service.

A set of six fish knives and forks, by Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Co Ltd, All back stamped with makers stamp, correct registration number:- 'Rd 451002', and the White Star Line swallow tale house flag.

A rare and beautifully proportioned tea spoon, amazingly detail to the design. This example was the best piece condition wise I have ever seen, the pattern very strong and sharp, working well on the pieces shape.

Detailed close up's of the main design elements on this service as found on the cutlery.

The largest of three toast racks the company manufactured for White Star Line. It's thought the smallest of these was used alongside the caviar servers.

This service, which was at least at first unique to the 'Olympic' class (It is thought the service was later ordered and used onboard Majestic & Homeric in the 1920's), was a design chosen from the company's design books rather than being specifically designed for the new liners. The registration number "Rd 451002" is thought to be indicate 1905, well before the advent of the new liners. Although the shapes of the service are typically Edwardian in form, the pattern was for 1911 relatively 'modern'. The pattern is in what we would today title, Art Nouveau, displaying highly stylised vine and scroll work. The hollow ware* of the range (*tea post, coffee, milk and sugar bowls etc) also sported typically Edwardian draped swags, highly evocative of the era.

In the event from the Olympians, only Olympic and Titanic would ever receive their silver services, the majority of Titanic's still lying with her on the bottom of the North Atlantic.

A recent discovery, a very rare large claret jug in the A'la Carte pattern by Goldsmiths & Silversmiths, in Regent plate. The body is solid let cut crystal and probably manufactured by Stuart crystal who produced much of the ships crystal service. In 20+ years I have only seen three of these, all were in different sizes, this at just over 10" tall is the largest, its probable, as with much of this service that the jug was only produced in three sizes. Also featured is a cocktail/serving dish also by Goldsmiths & Silversmiths in the medium size.

Specially designed napkin or serviette rings were also chosen for the restaurant, although unmarked with a manufacturers marks other than a stamped anchor motif, recent research has uncovered the anchor mark is that of the famous American silversmiths Gorham. A similar 'wave' design can be found on hollow ware produced by the company for the United Staes Lines around the same period, the early teens, which may explain the somewhat complementary but differing design to that found on the rest of the service, it appears to show stylised foaming waves. We know these were definitely used onboard Titanic as one survived as a lucky souvenir in the pocket of a survivor, sold in the 1993 by Onslow's auction house. 

A selection of pictures showing the catalogue for an Onslow's Titanic & Maritime artefacts sale held in 1993, including three items from the estate of a Second Class passenger who escaped the sinking liner, so the story goes, pocketing one of these napkin rings as a souvenir. 

This service remained on the Olympic from 1911 until the ship was withdrawn in 1935. At this time her silver service was placed into the newly formed Cunard White Star Lines company stores in southampton. It was remained here until 1936 when it was sent on mass probably to Elkington to be re branded and if need be re plated, at this stage much was sold off as surplus to unrelated marine service in the land based hotel trade, we occasionally see pieces turn up on the antique market with a hotel stamp and that of the White Star Line. The remainder that the company did retain was re branded and stamped with the crescent 'C' 'Cunard White Star' logo to the underside, beside the original unaffected White Star Line house flag. It was then sent back to Cunard White Star's southampton store and re issued to the then new RMS 'Queen Mary' in 1936. It was used throughout the ship but manly in Second and Third class as well as being used by officers in their own accommodations. To this day a fairly large amount of this service can be seen within the archives of the Queen Mary in Long Beach California.

The makers marks, as shown on the base of the teapot. To the left can be seen the original White Star Line house flag as originally stamped c-1911/12. To the right the later stamp with the crescent 'C' Cunard White Star logo, c-1936.

Other pieces from this service remained in store and eventually found re use on both Queen Elizabeth (1938) and Mauretania II (1939). Again the service was largely consigned to the Second & Third Class of these ships, although Cunard publicity and promotional films of the 1950's clearly show large platters for salmon & fish dishes being used in this pattern on both Queen's in the First Class dining rooms. 

Identical examples of this pattern have been recovered from the Titanic wreck site, (see pictures of an identical teapot in the same pattern that were recovered from the wreck site, photos taken from a traveling exhibit in Canada in 2012 of recovered artefacts, internet/press photo.

The recovered teapot to the right perfectly matches the recently discovered example below, albeit without showing the signs of almost 100 years on the bottom of the atlantic. 

1000's of pieces of this service were produced for the White Star Line by Goldsmiths & Silversmiths. The majority of the items that you find today are the entrée dishes, sometimes referred to as muffin dishes, lidded tureens etc. The shapes of these pieces were well made and very durable, as such they survived and can be found to this day. What is far rarer are the more fragile hollow ware, items like tea and coffee pots rarely come onto the open market. In 20 years of collecting & dealing in this field I have only found or seen a handful of sugar bowls or milk/cream jugs, and only seen two tea pots, one of the hardest to find White Star Line silver plate patterns, and as a result highly  valuable.

The following pictures illustrate the myriad shapes and sizes that were produced in the Regent Plate pattern for the White Star Line, and its 'Olympic' class liners. This section will be regularly updated as new shapes come to light.

A seldom seen article from the pattern, at just under 3" across these little dishes contained salt, probably originally with guided interiors to protect the metal from the acidity of the salt. This shape was produced in at least three sizes, this being the smallest, the second size could be used as an auxiliary sugar bowl or large salt. The final largest size of this shape was produced as finger bowl.

A miniature sauce boat (less than 6"), most likely for a spirt to be poured over a specific dish, unique, as yet I have not seen another. The bottom of this example was loaded with infilled lead to aid stability on rough weather whilst at sea, similar to how the coffee pot was weighted, see above. Again as is common with the Regent Plate service its probable this shape was produced in varying sizes, most likely three, the largest being for standard gravy. 

A rare publicity card/brochure, c-1920's. Produced by White Star Line to advertise the services and facilities of the A'la Carte restaurant.

A large hot chocolate pot, just over 8" tall. Identical examples of this shape have been recovered from the Titanic wreck site. The spout sports a very similar 'duck bill' to that found on the claret jug listed above. It appears Goldsmiths & Silversmiths only made this shape in one size. A smaller different shape was issued for single servings, it was also used for coffee, see below:-

 

The small pot used for both hot chocolate and coffee, standing at just under 6". Like its larger brother above, both are bottom marked, although both shapes were issued with bottom marked, side marked and bottom and side mark together.

The small single hot chocolate pot shown next to the largest sized of the toast racks.

Seldom seen mustard pot, crystal liner, small hole for the use of a small mustard spoon (missing) which undoubtedly would have been in the same patter. The set also included matching salt & pepper pots, creating a trio cruet.

Complete lidded tureen, sometimes referred to as a 'Muffin dish' due to its squat shape. In a common theme in this service, Goldsmiths produced at least three sizes of this shape, this being the medium/middle size. This example although being recently re plated was still in remarkable condition. It is an early example, which we can tell by the multiple times the lid is marked, this tureen has no less that three White Star Line house flags, two on the lid, on inside, the other on the outside. The other is on the underside of the base. Later examples are usually only marked/stamped once.

The tureen seen without its lid.

Close up detail of the famous design on the well cast handles.

The underside showing the correct registration mark, makers stamp and the all important stamped flag & star.

The lid showing the outside stamped company flag & star.

Detail of the external stamped flag & star.

The underside of the lid showing the internal stamped flag & star.

An interesting comparison showing an identical example of this shape of tureen contrasted with one recovered from the wreck of the Titanic herself.

 

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