China Marked Titanic - Austria


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Laura Rusk

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I have a plate with the same Titanic mark on the back as the one that just sold on Ebay although mine does not have the purple ? grapes. It actually belongs to my stepfather who is 82 and he got it from his aunt who was probably born around 1900. I've always wondered about this plate and when I read the story about the homeless man selling his, I just had to do some research for myself. I would appreciate any and all information and I can post a picture if anyone is interested.
Thanks
 

Dave Gittins

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The plate certainly has nothing to do with Titanic. The name signifies a particular line of plates and other porcelain items produced by Pirkenhammer in the period you mention. Quite a number of these are for sale on the Internet, following the Dallas affair. There's a lot more about that particular scam on the Ebay thread.
 
Dec 28, 2006
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I recently found some old china from family and it is two saucer plates.

Under the plate it says "Titanic" and "Austria" along with a logo that appears to be two hammers and a crown.

Is this from the titanic?

Thanks,
Bennett
 

Mark Baber

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Hello, Bennett---

For an earlier discussion of plates like this, look here.

P.S. This thread now contains the messages from two threads addressing the same plates; they have been merged and re-named.
 
May 9, 2008
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The $10,000 Pirkenhammer Titanic Ebay "scam" revisited with a new twist:

As many of you know, in the late 1990's an Ebay plate (sold for a homeless man) with the Pirkenhammer Titanic mark on it sold for $10,000. Supposively he inherited it from his Aunt who was a passenger on board and she and the plate luckily survived the tragedy!

I recently acquired a plate in an Estate sale in New York marked with the Pirkenhammer symbol and the word Titanic. It is artist signed S. (H. or L.) Spencer 12' (1912). After reading all the blogs on this subject, the one thing that people are not mentioning is that these particular plates currently on the market may have been made exclusively for the Titanic by Pirkenhammer but they weren't necessarily on the Titanic. (It wasn't a pattern made by the company, as someone suggested, since most of these plates were blanks that were decorated with different hand-painted artwork on the front). In the late 19th and early 20th century, many European porcelain manufacturing companies were commissioned to paint decorative artwork on porcelain for companies or commemorative events in the United States (I can supply this info if interested). These plates were most likely not made for the Titanic for dinnerware service but for porcelain artware to decorate the cabins etc. Decorative plates such as the one that sold on Ebay, as well as the one that I have, would not be used for utilitarian purposes. It is possible that Pirkenhammer created these plates in hopes that the Titanic would buy them for the upper-class cabins for decoration sake or for perhaps souvenirs . The decorated plates that slowly show up on the Market may be the ones that were not chosen or bought by the Titanic for such purposes? Or perhaps Pirkenhammer created these blanks for the general public to decorate in order to celebrate such a special event.

Regardless, they may still valuable if they in fact were made exclusively for this historical event. I find it very unlikely that it is a coincidence that these plates were produce at the same time in history as the introduction of the Titanic (not afterwards!). Remember negative evidence doesn't prove anything- just because such a plate with the Pirkenhammer mark has not been found among the salvage this doesn't mean that this company didn't supply such artware for the Titanic or at least produce it for this event. (By the way, such an artifact would probably never be found if these plates were used for decoration purposes and in limiting number, the chance of finding such a piece would be astronomical). Do Titantic experts really have accessibility to a full inventory log of what this company bought for their ship? I do not doubt that the Titanic bought their dinnerware sets from England as one person wrote since, at that time, this manufacturer was much less expensive than French or Bavarian porcelain. Austrian, Bavarian, and French porcelain were bought and imported into the US for mostly decoration purposes for the Art and Craft movement. This is clearly what the majority of the Titanic Pirkenhammer pieces on the market today were used and perhaps made for.

[Moderator's Note: This post, originally posted in an unrelated thread has been moved to the pre-existing one, discussing the same issue. JDT]
 

Dave Gittins

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In a word, rubbish!

The name Titanic has been used by various firms for their products, particularly if they wanted to imply size or strength. In Australia, we used to be able to buy shoes made on the Titanic last. (They were a bigger fitting then usual). A few years back somebody tried to sell a tool marked Titanic, with the suggestion that it was connected with the ship. There's even been a relatively recent ship named Titanic. Others can probably find more examples.

You only have to look at the stream of fraudulent material that is on eBay to see the nuttiness that surrounds the ship. The Pirkenhammer wares are part of it.
 

Ray Perks

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Aug 21, 2004
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Hi Rachel,

The thought that these such plates had any connection even remotely with the Titanic (other than by using the name of the ship or merely as a descriptive pattern name) is so improbable that it is nigh on impossible.

The Titanic was nothing special so why should these plates be made for the Titanic when none were made for any its sister ships.

With an exception of two or possibly three patterns I have at least one example piece of every china pattern used on the White Star Line and I'm pretty sure that people that frequent this forum have examples of the ones I don't have. I do not have a piece of Pirkenhammer, nor do I want one.

Why, when England had the best china makers in the World - Mintons, Royal Worcester, Crown Derby, Royal Doulton to name but a few, would such an illustrious company as the White Star Line bother, or even think about going to an unknown pot maker in Austria to buy items for someone else to pattern up. Whilst I do not claim to be expert in Titanic china your tale simply does not add up.

There is absolutely no evidence, no matter how many scenarios anyone wishes to put forward in the attempt to talk up the value of these items, that these items have any connection to the RMS Titanic.

There are many many items that are talked up in price, particularly on eBay - it doesn't mean to say they are either genuine, what they are said to be or have any real value.

I'm sorry if you were hoping for some sort of increased valuation of your item - I very much doubt you will get any here.

I can only echo Dave's sentiments...

Cheers
 
May 9, 2008
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Thanks for your informative response. Do you actually have proof that there is absolutely no link between the IMMC and Pirkenhammer . Please direct me to this evidence.
Do you have proof that Pirkenhammer never made these plates to celebrate the US event (which was at the time a notable event) and sell them to the public for decoration? Again, please provide me with this information.
In order to disprove stories, ideas, or arguments, one usually uses evidence- otherwise arguments based entirely on "personal belief" could also easily be termed "rubbish".

I personally do not believe these plates were ever on the ship because I do not think there is any evidence to say that luggage was taken by any passenger that boarded the life boats. There is one article that states that there was only one surviving man that had arrived with a large piece of luggage. (Any info on this would be great).
But I also do not believe that this China manufacturing company coincidentally named their line of china "Titanic" in 1911-1912, the same time period that this famous ship was expected to launch. As an aside, porcelain by its very nature is fragile and therefore limited by size, so the idea of the company calling it "Titanic" for its size and strength seems quite absurd.

Importantly, one point that one of you made to support your argument is actually not valid:

"Why, when England had the best china makers in the World - Mintons, Royal Worcester, Crown Derby, Royal Doulton to name but a few, would such an illustrious company as the White Star Line bother, or even think about going to an unknown pot maker in Austria to buy items for someone else to pattern up. Whilst I do not claim to be expert in Titanic china your tale simply does not add up. "

None of the china makers that you listed sold white ware blanks to the public for decoration purposes. These companies produced "patterns" not hand painted artwork. Original artwork on porcelain was very valuable at the time, especially factory decorated pieces. Why do you think Limoges France porcelain or Pickard China are some of the most valuable porcelain pieces to date- owing mostly to the fact that they are original hand painted pieces. All of the limited number of Pirkenhammer pieces that are on the market were supplied as blanks for personal decoration. THEY ARE NOT PATTERNS. The US market imported thousands of Austrian and French white ware pieces from what you mistakenly call "unknown" companies for the Arts and Crafts movement (if you review the famous Arts and Crafts Keramic Studios Pottery magazine of that time, you will see many advertisements from such companies selling their blank white ware). There was a huge market for such pieces & that is why it is called in American history the Arts and Crafts "movement" of the late 19th and early 20th century. In fact, most of these smaller European manufacturing companies made china exclusively for and were dependent on the American market for their survival.

This same person also made the erroneous argument:

“Titanic was nothing special so why should these plates be made for the Titanic when none were made for any its sister ships.”

I think the following article (as with several hundred more) invalidates such an argument:

"In 1912 the steamship Titanic was an enormous floating palace with many levels of society enclosed in a single vessel. The upper levels of the ship housed the wealthy and powerful. Below the richly furnished staterooms of the elite, the corresponding levels of society descended to the very bottom of the ship, where the lowest classes lived and worked. At her launching in May 1911, the British press hailed the White Star Line’s 46,000-ton superliner Titanic as ‘the Wonder Ship,’ the most stupendous, the most luxurious, the safest ship afloat," wrote Sir James Bisset. The media heralded the Titanic as the most marvelous ship afloat, several of her crew deserted. The Titanic was the greatest ocean liner ever constructed and at the time the largest moveable object in the world. The ship contained services many guests didn't even have in their homes, such as electric lights and heat in every room. The ship featured four restaurants, a fully stocked gymnasium, a swimming pool, a Turkish bath and two separate musical ensembles to entertain guests. Despite the media rapture that presently heralds America as the sole remaining superpower, an unsinkable republic and an unassailable democracy, the country appears to be cruising as comfortably into unsafe waters laced with icebergs. The warnings have been forthcoming for a long time now. Similar to the enduring morality tale of the Titanic, where "not one, but many errors brought her to disaster," little hints of disaster indicating a larger tragedy to come have been sent–and ignored–by friendly ships of state all around."

Doesn’t sound to me that American’s, and some of the most elite people of the time who boarded the ship, weren’t excited about such a launching.

Perhaps all of you should keep in mind that for many hundreds of years pottery has been used to record all kinds of occasions. Public events, causes and people have all found their place on pottery. In fact anything that caught the imagination the public. These could range from local elections to national political events and sometimes the subjects could be quite controversial. The majority of events recorded on pottery tend to be quite personal to a family and therefore are not so desirable to the collector. Royal commemoratives however are of greater importance and are perhaps the next largest area represented on china particularly in the nineteenth century. The next area recorded on China is political events and causes. From time to time the events recorded are of machines and inventions such as the hot air balloon which can be found on delftware of the eighteenth century, George Stevenson’s Rocket which has been depicted on pottery of the early nineteenth century and ships which are often found on cream ware of around eighteen hundred.

So there definitely was a market for such a commemorative event such as the launching of the Titanic. Remember even in the 19th century, when there is demand, there is supply. Business is business.

Again, if anyone can direct me to where I can find information on the inventory records or dealings between the White Star and their suppliers would be the most useful. I am not interested in “ some sort of increased valuation of your item - I very much doubt you will get any here” as you have suggested. I am simply interested in the truth based on hard evidence and sound arguments, not just merely personal opinions.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Why would anybody at the time hail the Titanic as some kind of new 'wonder ship' when its almost identical sister the Olympic had been launched a year earlier, with maximum attention from the Press. The Titanic was just more of the same, and received much less coverage. Ever seen a Pirkenhammer plate bearing the name Olympic? The Titanic is better remembered now simply because it sank and the Olympic didn't. Only the myth-making process in the decades that followed has elevated the Titanic to most luxurious, safest, fastest, etc etc. It was none of those things.

It's perfectly true that commemorative plates are often produced to mark significant events. But such plates are decorated in a way that calls attention to that event. An unremarkable pattern of fruit and flowers like that of any ordinary dinner service doesn't fit the bill.

Nobody here needs to produce evidence or proof that the highly unlikely connection you are suggesting didn't happen. If you want to promote the idea it's up to you to produce convincing evidence that it did.
 
Feb 4, 2007
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Do you have proof that Pirkenhammer never made these plates to celebrate the US event
What "US" event?

And as Bob has just pointed out, commemorative plates call attention to the event being commemorated, either in pictorial depiction, shape, or lettering. Tiny scrawl on the back of the plate that says "Titanic Austria" hardly does any of these things. If one compares genuine commemorative maritime plates from the era with the Pirkenhammer plates, one sees the immediate difference in presentation. The Pirkenhammer plates DO NOT point to maritime themes in any way.

Rachel, please provide us some proof to back up your own argument that the Pirkenhammer plates could have been made to commemorate the Titanic. You ask us for proof to dis-prove, but I'm sure many of us here are more interested in hard evidence to prove the plates are Titanic-related. Have you contacted Pirhenhammer and asked them for hard evidence that the plates were, in fact, ordered by the WSL or at least made to commemorate the Titanic? Verbal assurances by them, which they apparently made when that plate of theirs sold for $10,000, doesn't cut it in this situation. Ask for documented proof. Copeland-Spode, and Royal Crown Derby, two known manufacturers for Titanic's china, DO have documented evidence.

As for written records concerning the china ordered by the WSL for their ships, unfortunately, most of this info has been lost. Without exception, all known Titanic-era WSL china was brokered through Stoniers of Liverpool. Whether Stoniers' records survive or not I personally don't know.
 
May 9, 2008
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This statement is not always true:

"It's perfectly true that commemorative plates are often produced to mark significant events. But such plates are decorated in a way that calls attention to that event. An unremarkable pattern of fruit and flowers like that of any ordinary dinner service doesn't fit the bill."

Really, the entire Collection of American Presidential China commissioned & designed for and used by U.S. Presidents from George Washington to Ronald Reagan celebrating their inauguration never had a president painted on them (or any other scene related to politics). Simply an American Eagle mark was placed on the back with the artist name and maker.

If these plates were indeed commissioned by the Titanic as stated by Pirkenhammer for decorative purposes, I doubt they would commission hand painted pictures of ships. That wasn't exactly the popular theme among porcelain collectors or artist of the time. Again, perhaps the Olympic didn't undergo such a marketing venture, this is not evidence. It is all about marketing & making money.

Your statement:
"Nobody here needs to produce evidence or proof that the highly unlikely connection you are suggesting didn't happen. If you want to promote the idea it's up to you to produce convincing evidence that it did."

Actually the opposite is true as well, to disprove a theory you need to provide evidence. Imagine a President telling his citizens that he didn't have to provide proof that another nation had weapons of mass production and that in all likelihood they did. Would you expect his people to swallow that explanation? What a mistake if they did. In fact, I bet history would prove that the "masses" should have waited for the actual evidence to disprove the theory instead of believing the so called "experts' and their opinion of the likelihood or probability. Instead the masses didn't want to take the time or have the interest to disprove the "theory" - what a mistake.

Hmmmm. As you see, never has mere opinion by the "so-called" experts weighed heavily in my decisions, especially when such opinions are based on negative results and/or close-mindedness.

For background on what evidence to date does support the the link between this company and the titanic see:

http://pirken-hammer.com/old/news.html

Click here: Translated version of http://forum.vary.ru/viewtopic.php?t=2129&start=45&sid=4bb8541c1cc7d654f1a1c99be1ced5ae

In fact, the intuitive reader will realize that I am questioning the Pirkenhammer evidence and throwing out other possibilities. All I am asking is that you counter these arguments with facts. Any takers?
 
May 9, 2008
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By the way, I posted my last response at the same time that Jason Schleisman posted his. Thank you for the response. That is informative and to answer your question, I just recently contacted the Pirkenhammer company asking exactly what you suggested. I will let all of you know if I ever get a response! LOL Thanks again. R
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>This statement is not always true:<<

Rachel, a point of order: it is true that if you mean to positively establish the connection you assert, then the burden of proof lies with you. It is not up to anybody else to disprove it.
 

Jon Brockman

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Oct 2, 2006
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Rachel i find it interesting that you have said a number of times "commissioned by the Titanic" , the Titanic was owned by the White star line or OSNC if you prefer so it would of been commissioned by the WSL, which leads me to my next point i have collected WSL china for a number of years now and every piece of used on board china i have seen or own has either white star line written on it, the white star house flag (burgee), the OSNC badge or a combination of the three and that goes for china used on the titanic or any other white star ship ever. so that is the best evidence that the plate you refer to was not WSL on board service.
As for a commemorative plate if it was indeed such a massive event as you tend to believe do you not think the White star line would of put their company name on the plate also or at least their logo?
and at very least they would want their ship called RMS Titanic not just Titanic as it is written on this plate so this would show it was not Commisioned by the White Star Line.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Rachel, my comment about commemorative plates related to just that, which is one of several suggestions you have made. Not to the possibility of the White Star Line commissioning these plates to decorate its ships, which is another of your suggestions. Commemorative items produced for sale are always distinguished by reference to the person, place or event commemorated, and rarely intended for any use other than display. You spoke above of marketing possibilities for such items, and gave examples of pottery decorated with images of ships and railway locomotives. The White House dinner services are in no way comparable. Would you buy a plate to commemorate the Titanic if if bore no reference to the ship other than a single word hiding within the small print on the back? Would anybody?
 
Apr 22, 2007
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I'm not sure if this has been mentioned before, but Titanic is also a surname and I have found quite a few from Austria. From what I gather, the surname may have been shortened from a longer version to Titanic. Perhaps, a person with the surname Titanic had something to do with the production of the plates.

Kathleen
 
May 9, 2008
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RECIEVED BY A FELLOW ET MEMBER WHICH MADE ME ELICIT THE RESPONSE ABOVE.
Hello Rachel- I have followed the saga of the plates with great interest. The tool to which I believe one ET member refers - a common warehouseman's hook marked 'Titanic' - proved genuine! We discovered to whom it had belonged from a 1913 American courtcase in which a survivor had attacked a man with it. The Judge's family sold it! Don Smith
 
May 9, 2008
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THAT IS AMAZING. ALMOST AS AMAZING AS THE WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE THAT THIS BOARD HAS CONCERNING THE FACTS SURROUNDING THE TITANIC. IN FACT, WHEN I LIST THE PLATE I WILL SPECIFICALLY POINT OUT ALL THE BELIEFS THAT YOU GUYS HAVE AND DISPROVE MANY OF THEM WITH EVIDENCE. WOW, WHAT IS EVIDENCE? OH, THAT IS RIGHT, SOME OF YOU DON'T LIKE TO BE CONFUSED WITH THE FACTS.
A SNEAK PREVIEW:
1. Authentic Titanic souvenirs did exist that did not have the name RMS Titanic and instead just had the name "Titanic" on them (buckles WITH "TITANIC' were likely made for the sailing celebration or an event surrounding the launch and given to VIP's or other important persons. These buckles also illustrate HOW erroneous THE statement that Titanic was nothing special, as buckles of this time were only produced for the Titanic)
2.White Star/ IMMC did not deal with just British Porcelain Manufacturing Companies but also worked through French/American companies that imported their china to America (i.e. the IMMC & Red Star logo on the GDA plate which was based in Limoges but imported their items to America through New York ) and therefore suggest that they could have work through other European porcelain manufacturing companies that also had American ties (i.e. Pirkenhammer).
3.Pirkenhammer was a prestigious company that produced china for important people and establishments (YES, GODFREY- ware WERE made for the Papacy) so again is it not inconceivable that the White Star Line would work through such a reputable company to produce wares for their luxury ships.
4. Pirkenhammer imported their products through and work with American companies (i.e. AMERICAN OMG DISTRIBUTOR mark ON A PIRKENHAMMER PLATE SHOWS THAT OMG ORDERED THEM DIRECTLY THROUGH PIRKENHAMMER) so it is not inconceivable that they could have imported plates to America (whether decorated by American artists or their own) as souvenirs for the Titanic.
jUST A FEW POINTS THAT COMPLETELY PROVES THE amount of BAD information put out by SOME ON THE ET that is simply self serving nonsense at the expense of fact finding and history.

I GUESS THAT MAKES YOU THE JOKE, DON.
 

Jon Brockman

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Rachel, do you have any proof at all that these plates where anything to do with the Titanic? not could bes or maybes?
 
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