Class & wealth

Andrew Maheux

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Dec 4, 2000
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I was wondering, if there were pursers safes for second class, where were they located?

Were the Second class passengers valuables storred in the 1st class pursers office?

For instance Lawrence Beesley. He had a ticket for the pursers safe, meaning that either his valuables were kept in the "2nd class pursers office" or in the 1st class.

Thank you

Andrew
 

Dan Cherry

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Mar 3, 2000
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Andrew,
I was under the impression that the 2nd class purser's office was located at the foot of the second class stairs on E-deck, and that the passengers could store their valuables there. Beesley, if I recall correctly, said he heard the door to the safe slam and the purser walk off during the sinking Someone with access to his writings may confirm this, as I do not have my books with me presently.
 
Dec 7, 2000
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Dan,

You are correct, this has been suggested. It has also been suggested that the gladstone bag recovered from the ocean floor with jewels in it actually came from the 2nd class purser's office. The 2nd class purser likely emptied out his safes, and went along E deck to 1st class. Perhaps they considered it more safe to keep all the valuables in one area.

Daniel.
 

Nigel Bryant

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Aug 1, 2010
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Wellington, New Zealand
Hi,

Was the Purser's Office in Second-class also equivalent to the Enquiry office in 1st-class? Where passengers could get information about the normal shipboard stuff that one does on a crossing like getting the "Atlantic Bulletin"? Could Second-class passengers if they wished had the advantage of sending telegrams always that only reserved for the rich, if not did they have any pneumatic tubes in the second-class purser's office which lead to the Marconi rooms on the top deck?

All the best,

Nigel
 
Jun 4, 2003
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Hi! I just saw some of the valuables of the gladstone bag and I do not think they were second class (diamond rinds etc.). Does anyone else have any info about it? Thanks!!!
 

Jeremy Lee

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Jun 12, 2003
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Hi, I am waiting to see the pictures, but why not diamond rings in Second Class? Second Class passengers weren't exactly poor.....
 
Jun 4, 2003
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"Second Class passengers weren't exactly poor": what do you mean by that? I do not think they were so poor but such valuables are usually associated with the rich...
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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George, gold and precious stones were not the preserve of the rich, though of course they had these things in greater abundance! Check out, for instance, these items which were found on 3 of the first 5 female bodies recovered:

No 5: 2 silver rings, 1 turquoise ring, 1 garnet and pearl ring, 1 gold ear-ring.
No 7: 2 gold rings, 1 diamond ring, gold watch and chain.
No 12 - 2 gold rings, 2 gold brooches, gold ear-rings.

The significance of this is that all of these ladies were 3rd Class passengers.
 
R

Richard Coplen

Guest
Hey all,
i just read an earlier posting where the wealth of 3rd class passengers is called into question. I think it's fair to say that most of us on this web-site, when we travel by aeroplane today occupy the economy (or coach) class section, that is to say the equivalent of third class aboard the Titanic. Modern business class is the equivalent of Titanic's second class and modern First (or Upper) class is the equivalent of Titanic's first class. What I'm trying to say is - most of us lot belong to Titanic's third class so we should base their material wealth somewhat on our own. Although we have more today than they had then, we still have far less than the modern super-rich just as they did back then. The working, middle and upper classes have progressed up the economic scale over the past 90 years, but all have risen in their respective ranks. At the end of the day, we are no better than the third class then and shouldn't look down on them as some sort of lesser being - they were no different to us - just the ordinary passenger on an extraordinary trip - no different to the coach-class passengers aboard TWA 800 for instance. What they had then we have generally now - and what we have now, in terms of jewellery say, is pretty much what they had then.
 

Jeremy Lee

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Jun 12, 2003
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I don't think the so-called 'first class' or upper class people today had so much a class divide like in 1912. Look, today, rich people and so called 'third class' people are almost the same in many things they do, and although there is still a class divide, the gap is closing up - rapidly. I give you another example to your airline class system. Take the QE2 for example, Queen's Grill Accommodation would be First Class, Caronia Restaurant Accommodation would be Second Class and Mauretania Restaurant Accommodation would be Third Class.(Let's discount the Princess/Britannia Grill). First Class (Queen's Grill) would still have a lot of privileges that the First Class people on Titanic and ships of the past had to offer, but when you see the Third Class of today (Mauretania Restaurant) have improved dramatically from what it was like say, 90 years ago.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Chicago, IL, USA
Normally I stay away from discussions on class status, etc, but I do feel that the comparisons between class structure in 1912 to modern airline classes is wrong. Many of the 1912 3rd class passengers were immigrants, some of whom were quite poor. Many occupied cabins with several other people, and the cabins for single men and single women were generally separated into different parts of the ship; men forward, women aft. The major steam ship companies were competing for this class since the major source of their revenue stream depended on it. Having relatively good accommodations for 3rd class on the Olympic/Titanic made these ships quite attractive in this trade. Many of the economy class travelers today on international flights are middle class folks, a few on business, some on holiday (vacation), and others just visiting friends or relatives. 2nd class in 1912 was aimed for the middle class traveler, many of whom were professionals. Business class passengers on today's flights are mostly business travelers with tickets bought by their companies, and a few others that have been upgraded or on saved frequent flier miles, or those that have saved up for the long international trip. The few first class passengers on international flights, and I emphasize few, tend to be high level executives on business travel or some of the more well to do vacation travelers.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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In 1912 there were actually 5 levels of travel on ocean liners, and ticket prices varied accordingly. 3rd Class on the Titanic was two steps up from the base level of 'old' steerage which, together with 'new' steerage, could still be found especially on ships operating from Asia and southern Europe. With '3rd class' White Star sought to offer many of the amenities associated with 2nd Class, rather than the small improvements on traditional steerage which were increasingly demanded on health and safety grounds by legislation in Britain and the US.

Passengers at this level were made up of a mix of working class and lower middle class. As a group, they were not representative of a wave of mass emigration driven by a need to escape lives of grinding poverty. Among their numbers were many adventurous and ambitious young people, families who had sold small businesses in the hope of doing even better in the new world, and successful emigrants returning from holiday trips 'back home' - the true forerunners of 'tourist class'. Some of the first-time emigrants were travelling with borrowed money (generally supplied by friends or family already in the US or Canada), but by and large the truly poverty stricken didn't travel 3rd class on the Titanic - it was beyond their means.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Bob: That is very interesting information, and I hope I did not imply that the Titanic was carrying 3rd class passengers that were part of a massive emigration wave. It should be noted, however, that the Titanic was officially registered as an Emigrant ship. An emigrant ship was one that carried more than 50 "steerage" passengers. All the passengers were listed as belonging to either steerage or cabin on Emigrant Ship Survey Form 32.

From copies of the Emigrant Ship Survey 32 Forms that were signed off on, they listed the following:
434 cabin, 608 steerage boarded at Southhampton.
172 cabin, 102 steerage boarded at Cherbourgh.
The total count after the rest of the passengers boarded at Queenstown was 606 cabin and 710 steerage passengers; a total of 1316 passengers listed on the 11th April. Crew listed at 892 (BOT report had 885). Total on board listed at 2208 (BOT report had 2201).

Of the 710 steerage passengers, 417 were listed as single males and 146 listed as single females. The rest were married couples and children. So it looks like most of the 3rd class were single adults. And similarly, of the 606 cabin (1st and 2nd class) passengers, 413 were listed as single adults (252 male and 161 female.)
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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No worries, Sam, It wasn't my intention to contradict you. The classification of all non cabin-class passengers as 'steerage' was required to meet the demands of immigration controls, and did not of course determine the standards of quality that a shipping line was prepared to offer, or the more detailed subdivision of classes of quality recognised by the US Senate Immigration Commission. It's notable, for instance, that German liners like the Imperator offered both steerage and 3rd Class accommodation, but that distinction was lost once they arrived at Ellis Island. You might be interested in some more detailed comments I made about this situation in this thread:

https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/discus/messages/5811/70487.html