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

by Jonathan Quayle |

A White Star Line rare champagne bucket from the RMS 'Olympic' later reused on the RMS 'Queen Mary' by the high end firm, Boodle & Dunthorpe of Liverpool, C-1910/11.

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.

A very rare A'la Carte champagne bucket, not to be confused with the more common ice buckets in the same shape but half the size by Goldsmiths & Silversmiths. A recent discovery in California, it has changed (as of February 2020) what we know about the pattern and whom produced it. The general consensus was that the pattern was designed by Goldsmiths & Silversmith around 1905, especially chosen by White Star in 1910/11 for use within the ships A'la Carte restaurants of the new Olympic class. Other than pieces being made later under licence to firms such as Roberts & Belk, G&S were considered the only manufactures. The above champagne bucket changes this totally.  

The champagne bucket pictured here (the only one we have ever seen or heard off in 20+ years) is manufactured not by G&S but by a firm called Boodle & Dunthorpe, of Liverpool, c-1910/11. The firm incredibly still operates today under the name 'Boodles' and is now know as a world leading quality diamond jewellers. Around 1910/11 they were a firm of well respected fine jewellers and silver, outfitting some of the finest homes of the well to do in and around the thriving port of Liverpool. Its interesting to note that it appears the order for the Champagne buckets, at the least, was split and sent to Boodle. The reasons for this are unclear and perhaps we will never know. It might have been a case of splitting the order in able to facilitate getting a full ships compliment and silver created in time, these orders would have been huge, creating thousands of articles for each liner.

The full stamped makers mark on the underside of the Champagne bucket. Unlike any previously marked piece we have seen from the A'la Carte service. The full company's name is shown, along with a serial number reading:- 'F4308'. A shield mark contains the initials 'EP A1' for electro plate, and A1 for top quality standard. I am unsure what the circle within a box stamp represents.

The pair of handles on this bucket are heavily but incredibly finely cast, far thicker than those seen on the standard G&S smaller ice buckets in the same shape. 

The full White Star Line house flag is proudly stamped to the side of the bucket. Typically on many items in this service it is not strongly stamped. It appears that much of the services hollow ware (teapots, coffee pots, jugs etc) stamped in this way are often shallow cast or stamped. Very few pieces of hollow ware that I have seen ever have a fine deep clear stamp unless on a more flatter surface such as a tureen lid or similar. It also possible this bucket was at some stage re plated, but not within many decades, thus resulting in a more faint mark. 

This bucket had a particularly fascinating history and provenance. I purchased this from a family in Napper Valley, California It had been in their family for over 50 years having been bought at one of the famous auctions held by the city of Long Beach in 1967/70, when to recoup money laid out for the ageing ocean liner the city sold off what it saw as surplus, it even displayed this little keepsakes brass plaque stuck to the underside of the base. As described earlier in this blog, much of Olympic's silver silver, having competed a faithful service at sea of 24 years, was transferred to the then new Queen Mary. Most of Olympic's second hand service was used within the ships 2nd and 3rd class which makes perfect sense, Cunard White Star was always a very practical company. But some articles, such as anything that was originally seen as an expensive piece, such as an ice bucket or large tea urns etc, was used within the ships Cabin then later post war First Class accommodations. 

I purchased the bucket in January 2020 and picked it up whilst out in Los Angeles the following month. During my stay I was lucky enough to stay on the Queen Mary, so thought it only fair to bring the bucket back to the ship it had so loyally served for over 30 years, 50 years later. 

Back home in the Isle of Wight sunshine and after a deep clean the bucket came up a treat. Its astonishing to think that this bucket was in constant use from 1911 on the RMS Olympic until 1935, then transferred in 1936 to the RMS Queen Mary. Here it saw a second life at sea until 1967. Then sold and kept for private use in Napper Valley until 2020. It shall now travel across the atlantic once more, a final voyage of sorts to its new home within one of the finest collections of White Star Line in the United States.

An interesting discovery this week was this rather beautiful lidded pot on stand, sold to me as a biscuit barrel it is unfortunately unmarked with the White Star Line house flag, most likely from the pieces produced domestically for high end department stores around the same time the White Star service was ordered. It should be noted however that this pot was produced to a very high quality, with a thick hotel/restaurant gage silver plate, far thicker than those seen on the usual domestic pieces you see. Its shape also resembles those produced for Cunard Line around 1910/20 by Chester Plate and Elkington Plate to contain the ceramic preserve jars popular at the time for the likes of jam or marmalade, so its possible it was used for this purpose as well. 

 

 

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