Lead diffusion glass in CDeck staterooms

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Mike G. Anderson

Hello to everyone! This is my first post on these wonderful message boards, but I have read regularly the threads and posts for about a year. Anyway...

It seems you guys can figure out any question, no matter how small; well, here's a toughie that has been stumping me for quite a while. In Eaton and Haas' _Triumph & Tragedy_ (Second Edition) on page 130, it shows several photographs of Olympic's C-Deck state rooms. On two of them, namely a parlor suite sitting room and a period cabin (Louis Seize, perhaps?) it shows a lead-glass window in the vein of the 1st class dining salon "windows". In any case, I was wondering about a few details.

I. Was there a pane of lead diffusion glass under the lead-glass work?

II. Could the pane(s) of glass open to reveal a normal, glass porthole? Could that porthole be opened?

III. Which way did the window/porthole open?

IV. Was this feature not included on Titanic? (Seems doubtful)

I would imagine that there would be a pane of diffusion glass attatched behind the lead-glass work in order to make the window translucent. It seems sensible, as it would look rather ugly to see straight through the ornate window only to look upon bronze porthole rimming. Logically, the windows would open as no one would pay for an outside cabin lacking a view...seems a tad claustrophobic...

If anybody has the text of the original "Specification Book", (Which I doubt exists anymore) there should be no problem in figuring this out.

I do apologize if this has been discussed before.

Someone else probably has a more definitive and accurate answer, but I've had a theory regarding this.

Back when the exhibit was in Seattle, our group saw a small ornate grate of similar pattern to the Smoking Room paneling. It was somewhat corroded but was of the rough shape and size of a C Deck porthole (Kate or Michelle might remember this). As usual, the caption gave no clue at all what it was. While there was no glass in it, it looked like it may have at one time.

Then, at the Kansas City exhibition, I saw a portion of a stained glass window (very thin) with pieces of red, blue, and green glass still in the tiny panes. At the time, I was mystified since it didn't match any public room style at all.

Both of these examples led me to believe that there were stained glass cover windows in the C Deck suites. They would have merely been a thin panel of stained glass on hinges that could be opened or closed. Diffusion glass would have been unnecessary since the glass was colored. Besides, there wasn't all that much porthole machinery to hide in the first place. A good example of this is the Astor suite as portrayed in SOS Titanic. There is a scene in which Thomas Andrews opens a stained glass pane and watches Ireland through the porthole. Although SOS Titanic was never popular for its set accuracy, it may have unknowingly got that part right.

Re: how the portholes opened

The C Deck portholes didn't "swing" open. They were attached to the ship at the top and bottom rather than at one side like, say, the Queen Mary. They rotated open much like a revolving door. This can be clearly seen on page 50 of Last Days of the Titanic.

I hope this helps,



Mike G. Anderson

Thank you, David! That seems very logical.

Sorry about the little mindlapse involving the revolving portholes.

In any case, while further investigating the pictures, it seems as though the stained around the edges is indeed red, blue, and green. However, light is streaming through the center of the window; I would think this would mean that the glass was white-translucent or simply transparent...

Honestly, it seems as though there are so few sources to research this topic from...

Anyway, I have one more tiny, silly question. Were all the C-Deck portholes actually perfect circles? I seem to remember that they were actually semi-eliptical with parallel vertical sides. I believe porthole glass in this shape can be seen in Father Brown's photo he took amidships as he boarded.

Thanks a lot!

You are right about the portholes. The forward few cabins - C7, C8, C11, C12, and the corridor windows between these cabins - had 17in. round portholes. All other cabins had those "semi-elliptical" windows. If you draw a circle with a 22in. diameter, and then make two parallel sides 19in. apart, you'll get the porthole. First class D deck windows for the forward cabins were also the same. So, these portholes were 22in by 19in with rounded tops, that pivoted to open.

Now for the leaded glass windows. The better suites on C deck and B deck had these.

1. There was no pane of lead diffusion glass behind the leaded glass.

2. The leaded glass was on a sliding pane, that closed and opened up and down. The reason you can't see it on some of the photos is because it has been lowered into the panelling. When it was opened, yes it did reveal the porthole.

3. This porthole as has been pointed out before did open by pivoting on it's centre.

4. Yes these same leaded glass windows etc. were all found on the Titanic.

The pictures of the cabins you saw in the Eaton and Haas book were of Louis XVI (Louis Seize) style cabins. One was a sitting room, and the other a cabin.

The leaded glass windows did contain coloured glass, as well as the white or translucent glass, but this was either pebbled or frosted.



Mike G. Anderson

Thanks Daniel, but I would like to ask you a few more questions...

First of all:
"Now for the leaded glass windows. The better suites on C deck and B deck had these"
I had no idea that the period suites on B-Deck (I would imagine that "better" would equal "period") had this lead-glass work. I always thought that they were put in only on C-Deck suites because portholes clashed with the decor; a rectangular window on B-Deck doesn't seem to hinder the decoration cohersiveness. Where did you hear about the B-Deck suites having these windows? I'm not second guessing you, I'm just curious so I can expand my library!

Second of all, I'm curious as to how the windows lowered. Granted, it now seems clear that they did; on the Louis Seize suite the paneling under the window does stick out a little more than the rest of the suite's panaling. My question is how it lowered. You said it was on a sliding pane; how did it lower? Was the arrangement similar to the windows of today or did it have small metal runners?

Finally! My last question is this:
"You are right about the portholes. The forward few cabins - C7, C8, C11, C12, and the corridor windows between these cabins - had 17in. round portholes. "
Is the corridor you mean the one immediately aft of C-7,5,3,1,2,4,6,8 or did all of corridors on forward of the Grand Staircase that ran to the hull have portholes? Actually, I was under the impression that ALL light in EVERY corridor was created by lightbulbs, not by the sun. I have a hard time imagining porthole in the ornate corridors. Granted, the forward corridors might not have been that ornate as compared the FGSC to AGSC corridors. I suppose that could be debated.

Thanks in advance!

The leaded glass windows had nothing to do with the deck the cabin was on, but with style. I have various photos of "period" style cabins where portholes are visible, but there is no leaded glass. This means they were just not used in this style, or were lowered out of sight. I never saw or read anything about Titanic having leaded glass windows on B or C deck, but comparing Titanic's interiors to Olympic's this is very likely. So once again, it's not where the cabin was, but whether the style used a leaded glass window. The portholes would not clash with the decor. They were very nicely panelled and only just the brass rim and opening and fastening knobs were visible. I'm without the aid of my scanner, otherwise I would have posted some pictures!

The windows were just lowered behind the panelling. I don't know how it happened as I don't know how the sliding windows worked in those days. I have one photo that shows the window lowered (in the same Louis Seize cabin) and I think they did have some kind of runners.

On A, B, C, D and E decks, and probably all other decks and sections of the ship where the corridor extended to the side of the ship, there was a porthole. The two corridors on either side of the ship on C deck, just aft of cabins C1 to C8 (next to cabins C7 and C8) had the 17in portholes I mentioned. All other corridors on this deck had the larger 22in by 19in portholes I mentioned. The corridors were not ornate at all. The only ornate passenger cabin corridors were the main B and C deck corridors. To light the corridors by electricity during the day was a waste of coal, so each one that could, had a porthole.



Jake Angus

A First Class passenger (H. Sleeper Harper?) recounts that at the time of the collison w/the iceberg, his porthole was open and ice shavings fell into his stateroom.

Now, if the outside temp. was 32c., factor in the wind chill. Wouldn't said stateroom be uncomfortably cold?
Absolutely yes! I assume he meant that he opened the porthole in order to see what they had struck and possibly saw the ice quite close. It was far too cold to have a porthole left open in the middle of the night!
Uhhhhhh...no...unless H.S. Harper could open a porthole at lightspeed, that thing would have to have been open already in order for things to happen as he described. Why he would have it open on a freezing night makes for an intriguing qustion, but one I don't think we'll ever get an answer to.

Jake Angus

My recollection is that H. Sleeper Harper had the porthole open before the collison. What? Was this guy making the most of his fare by combining a state room's comfort w/that of cold storage?

>>Is this a mere coincidence then? <<


And not an especially remarklable one at that. God knows what his reasons were but people have all kinds of tastes. It could have been as simple as the heater in his room working a little too well, or he just liked things on the chilly side.

Different strokes for different folks and all that.

Ben Holme

Hi all,

Henry Sleeper Harper was suffering from tonselitis at the time of the crossing, and was largely confined to his cabin for its duration. He would not, therefore, have had much opportunity for deck strolling, and may have felt the need for fresh air. Confined to a relatively short space, I would have done the same.

However, as Lester points out, other passengers had their cabin windows open on April 14th. A few staterooms away, the Kenyons of D-21 had a similar experience of ice chunks tumbling in through their window, as did the Kimballs next door in D-19.
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