Titanic FlatwareCutlery Reference


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Jan 6, 2005
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Hello:

There are any number of great references for Titanic / White Star Line china, but I'm not finding very much on her flatware (cutlery to our friends in the U.K.).

Does anyone know of a good solid resource where one might see the patterns used? And does anyone know of reproductions being made? I'm particularly interested in knowing more about the First Class settings, especially the kinds of pieces that were carried aboard. I'm one of those awful people who knows the difference between a soup spoon, a cream soup spoon, and a bouillon spoon- and cares about it, I'm afraid.

Thanks very much!
 
Dec 31, 2003
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Hello, Sandy. Something here may be worth following up. Elkington & Co exist today as 'British Silverware'. The idea was suggested about five years ago to reproduce some pieces. The original archive was, I believe, destroyed in the war. The principal resource they considered using was an original 1910 design-book in the Victoria & Albert Museum here in London. I've often thought since that someone should look into this further.
 
Jan 6, 2005
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Donald:

Ah- that means that no one has yet made any of the pattern, am I right? I had the idea that I might enjoy having some of the special Spode cobalt service, with the correct WSL flatware, all in reproduction, of course.

It looks like I need to research the WSL flatware to see what it looked like; there were a lot of patterns that looked very similar then. There is likely a close match to be found from another manufacturer.

I'm amazed no one has reproduced the WSL pieces, what with the popularity the china reproductions enjoyed a few years ago. I wonder if the place setting seen in the Cameron movie (at Jack's place during the dinner in First Class) was genuine old WSL pieces, hand-made reproductions created for the film, or just plain inauthentic?
 

Jeremy Lee

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Jun 12, 2003
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They are reproductions, looks authentic from far but the colours are just not right and the impression is a little different, lighter colours and bolder lines.
 
Jan 6, 2005
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Jeremy:

Yeah, I know there are differences. This is what I've heard referred to as the "VIP" service- the Spode pattern with the very wide cobalt border (Russ Upholster's article on Marconigraph.com says that some sources indicate there may have been only 190 pieces in this service). The stuff I've run across looks good, but the logo in the centre has been omitted.

I wouldn't be buying it with absolute authenticity in mind, just for fun- and the price is low. Thanks for the heads-up.
 

Jeremy Lee

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Jun 12, 2003
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Yeah, using them for serving food is one suggestion! LOL
grin.gif
 

Ray Perks

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Aug 21, 2004
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My information on flatware is somewhat thin but I think at least on of the base First Class cutlery patterns had the name of "Dubarry" I'm also pretty sure that it is still made today but without the White Star ciphers etc as a "common" pattern.
One thing that is bugging me though - I have seen many White Star Line pieces of cutlery, only some of which carry a Maltese Cross impression - does anyone know what this denotes?
Secondly some silverware (not just cutlery) also carries the mark "EM" - does anyone know what this for? I am told it stands for "Engineers Mess" but have to admit to being extremely skeptical about this.

Thanks to Donald J A Smith as I didn't know that Elkington's name was British Silverware - another research source.
 
Dec 31, 2003
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Thanks, Ray. The 'reed-and-star' edging also makes the finest WSL silverplate distinctive. Where otherwise identical pieces were common to 1st and 2nd Class, the 'Maltese Cross' designates it as 2nd; an important and highly practical distinction. Occasionally, we find items further identified 'OM' and 'EM' and these letters - always prominently displayed - identify their use in 'Officers' Mess' and 'Engineers' Mess'. You will doubtless know the date-code lettering for Elkington; sometimes missing on a piece. But, an easy way for everyone to remember dates centered around the 'Olympics' is simply this: previous series ends in 1911 with a capital 'Z' within a simple cartouche ('barrel') and the next [the only unbroken A-Z one] begins in 1912 with a capital 'A' within a quatrefoil cartouche often described as a 'clover-leaf'. The most commonly met with of all - by far! - is 'K' for 1922; because of White Star's new 'Majestic', I presume. Now - to your site!
 

Ray Perks

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Aug 21, 2004
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Hi Don,
thankyou for your quick response. It makes for very interesting reading. I also note that the same star & reed pattern was used aboard Red Star Line ships. I have a dozen or so pieces of WSL cutlery plus other table silver in three designs I think, but as yet haven't had the opportunity to collate what it may tell me. I had heard that EM was Engineers Mess but the OM mark is new to me. Further, and so very interesting, the Maltese Cross was second class - I didn't know that either! Can you tell me how you came across this information? I have to admit its sounds the most plausible and I wonder how we can verify it? It has been said that the Maltese Cross was specific to the WSL-Dominion Line but I have to say I can't subscribe to that. Similarly there are stories that the Maltese Cross was stamped on silverware items as the ship was decommissioned and again I can't take this seriously when one considers the cost and effort involved and my (rhetorical) question as to just WHY would they do it. Yes I have a copy of the Elkington date codes but your quick guide is excellent. The reference to the Majestic is also "new information" - fascinating. I have also had a WSL fork in my possession, looking as third class and made by Dixon and Co. It wasn't very pretty and I could not verify it as WSL as opposed to the Great Lakes WSL so I let it go.
In amongst all my other WSL digging I would intend to contact British Silverplate to see if I could take this further but spare time is scarce so it will have to wait its turn.
Incidentally I think you are in London? - I'm in the Midlands not far from Wolverhampton.
Cheers
 
Dec 31, 2003
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Ray: Thanks again. British Silverware Ltd haven't updated their website for 2 or 3 years and - apart from one passing reference to 'Titanic' - no reproductions by them of any WSL silverplate are shown. Just as they first informed me, however, a private commission to recreate them would always be considered... Turning now to originals. The date-coding was not obligatory, and wasn't always included. Above the design number, an 'A'
is always found; denoting both quality and presence of some silver. The A 28000 series is the one that most interests us and is, I was told, included in the design book in the V&A. Elkington & Co itself would have used their date-code every year, of course. However, the very great number of castings made for WSL in time for 'Olympic' to sail would be dated '1911', and - because they were interchangeable between ships - probably 'Titanic' also. Likewise, those dated '1912' and 1st Class may have been intended primarily for 'Titanic'. But, '1911' doesn't simply equate with 'Olympic'; nor '1922' with 'Majestic'. Yet, they do relate. So, I don't believe anyone could form a complete 'A-Z' collection of WSL 1st Class teaspoons (shall we say); regardless of the fact the WSL fleet was so large. Or that, as an honest old gentleman once confessed to me, tired scullions were prone to disposing of pieces - overboard! The 'Maltese Cross' interpretation is essentially a consensus arrived at among a number of dealers in nauticalia questioned: most recently at the 'Ship Show'. Your site is truly excellent. It was a delight to visit it again. The almost uniquely rare toothpick-holder (and tray) among your original treasures especially interested me. As well as WSL 'puff-jars' ("not many people know that" - but a lady I know owns a pair) Elkington produced a WSL silverplate toothpick-holder. So then, if I lived near Wolverhampton - or you near London - we might be searching for toothpicks to put in them. And, because originals - or imported repros - would be *ivory* ones, we could both get arrested due to our research. Don
 

Ray Perks

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Aug 21, 2004
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Hi Don,
My apologies for the delay in responding as I have been in Belarussia this week and have only just got back.
Your information is fascinating and is going in the "repository" ready for the day that I can do some serious collation.
Your comments on my site are very kind and truly welcome, more so because I am self taught "webmaster" and even now I have many many ideas on how to improve both its look and content particularly for the benefit of disseminating information.
It is my intention to resurrect my "old" site to display my collection as a trigger to get people to provide information - just as we have been talking about silverware. However time being a scarce commodity it will have to wait until it rises up the list of things to do!

I have the same mindset as it Steve Santini regarding authenticating assumptions such as those regarding the Maltese Cross emblem and one day I'm sure we will get there!

What I find interesting about the "toothpick holder" is that the pot is stuck to the tray. I have also seen the exact same item elsewhere (but with a lid) so for it being a toothpick holder is now distinctly uncertain.

I guess I'd better go unpack!
 
Dec 31, 2003
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Hi Ray! Glad you must have found reference to our 'arrest' real fun! I had wondered just what the rare item in your collection was actually for: a lid on the only other known one seems to suggest another use, doesn't it? I've always held Steve Santini in special regard - not just because he's a fellow Canadian! - and right now he happens to be 'the third man' - I assume - in research going on into one of my own little treasures. You have heard other explanations of the 'Maltese Cross' - we all have - and possibly, like me, you'll have been almost convinced by one of them. But, I converted to this one for some while ago - and it is good to know there are other rational 'believers'. But: Always question those 'answers'. And, just occasionally, those questions! Don
 

Ray Perks

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Aug 21, 2004
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Hi Don,
being arrested for the import of ivory does seem somewhat incongruous doesn't it?! I'd rather be arrested for something more daring and exciting -I can think of a few things!! The "toothpick holder" is fascinating I just wonder how many other items in collections around the world have a wrong name or use associated with them. The more I learn about the Edwardians and Georgians and the inconsistencies with our perception of their times the more positive I become about how little I know. I have read with great interest Steve Santini's comments about various topics and can only concur with him 100% and love his "buyer beware" posts! I have learnt a very long time ago, many times the hard way, that getting the right answer is the product of asking the right question! Defining the problem is quite often much more difficult than getting the answer....
Cheers
Ray
 
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