Titanic's bow name plates


Steven Hall

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The montage below includes the listed 6 images.
fig.1/ H/W — UFTM, frame H-1712.- taken Sept 1911 @ outfitting
fig 2/ UFTM, image plate, Courtney No 6 - taken 10 / April / 1912
fig 3/ H/W — UFTM, frame H-1561 - May 1911 pre-launch
fig 4/ H/W — UFTM, frame H-1561a - May 1911 pre-launch
fig 5/ H/W.- UFTM, frame H-1559 - May 1911 pre-launch. (sepia tone)
fig 6/ H/W.- UFTM, frame H-1559 - May 1911 pre-launch.

There are 8 additional images (pre-launch) that show the area in discussion, unfortunately the image quality negates any high resolution capture of the ships name.

Fig 1 shows what appears to be the ships name on a single plate. (keeping everything simple) There appears some warranted attention surrounding the letter C in the singular. There does appear a hint that the letter itself could be contained within single block. After looking closer at the image — it appears to be the only one with that apparent affliction. I had both a 20” x 16” inch copy and the smaller 10” x 8” version to work with; neither held any greater advantage over the other. Unfortunately the image (‘s) starts to break down beyond a resolution above 600 dpi. So what’s seen below is arguably best I can produce.
The image thankfully provides the proportionate spacing based on the letters being (known to be) 18” inches in height. Thereby with reasonable confidence those figures (or letter spacing distribution figures) can be projected onto the pre-launch images.
Are the letters raised or incised is an open-ender — having been previously discussed.
The beauty of the image is that it provides all of the above information.

Fig 3 appears to have the letter spacing aligned to fig 1. I have to admit that the individual that painted, scratched or etched this plate may simple have been working on the above proportions (seen in fig 1) when he / she did the adjustment to the glass negative. The question is; when this was done was there visible letters on the plate to work with.
I cannot 100% confirm seeing any real evidence of any original (incised) letters beneath this individuals handy work.
The spacing (& size of the painted on letters) looks to have the correct proportions and alignment with fig 1. The two visible portholes seen above additionally support this.

Fig 4 is as above, just another photograph taken slightly (as long as it took to insert another plate in his camera) a short period later. Both full views of this image have been captured from (approx) the same location. I dare say that Robert J. Welsh must have had some concern with the capture of the first exposure. (by the length of the slightly extended shadows some several minutes must have expired been the two photographs.

[more later]
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Mar 3, 1998
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Steve,

Good summary so far. The only comment I would make is that I seem to see hints of cut-in letters in Fig. 4.

Mostly, though, I wanted to put a post down so that I would receive e-mail notification of this discussion as it continues. :)

Parks
 

Steven Hall

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Parks,
I agree with what you see in fig 4. There is a hint of cut-in letters there. I'm just not 100% at this stage.

Paul,
that footage taken in late Sept / early October 1911 (of which the footage is mainly the ship entering the dry-dock) does show the ships name in one clip.
What is interesting in the footage I found was what appear (and I could be wrong) to be Titanic's propeller blades at the end of the dock.
I took this film still from a copy of the British MovieTone's footage someone sent me several years ago. British Pathe I believe holds the film in their archive now.
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S

Scott R. Andrews

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"...What is interesting in the footage I found was what appear (and I could be wrong) to be Titanic's propeller blades at the end of the dock..."

Hi Steve,

That's what I would take them to be as well, given both the event being captured on film (that drydocking was for the purpose of removal of remaining launch supports, cleaning and painting of bottom and installation of propellers) and the apparent size of the blades compared to the men visible standing along side.

Regards,
Scott Andrews
 

Bob Read

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Dec 9, 2000
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Steve:

Maybe I've missed something. Are you making a statement with your original post or are you asking a question? Is your question when was the name Titanic actually applied to Titanic?
Or are you asking a different question such as were the letters applied to the plate or cut in.

Regards,
Bob Read
 

Ken Marschall

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Jan 8, 2002
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Further to whether the letters spanned several separate but carefully joined plates, I would refer readers to the very clear H&W photo showing Britannic's starboard bow before launch. It is perhaps the sharpest image that can be studied. There is, as with Olympic and Nomadic, no sign of separate plates.

"Are the letters raised or incised is an open-ender — having been previously discussed."

I HOPE this isn't still an "open-ender." On this detail, at least, there should be no further debate (see discussion in the recent "Ballard expedition" thread). Nomadic still exists, and her lettering has been studied closely by several of us.

Parks is right-- in image 4 above, hints of the underlying actual letters are there, particularly to the right of the first "I". The retoucher failed to angle the letters properly, too. They were not vertical as were the plate laps, but angled, just as was done with the lifeboat nameplates.

Ken
 

Bob Read

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Sorry guys, I see what happened. I wasn't following this discussion on the other forum and I didn't know it had been transferred in "mid flight" here. I believe Ken's description of how the name of Nomadic was "cut in" to the plates is what the Olympic class rigging plans have always been referring to when they said the names were "cut in" to the plates. The only thing I haven't been able to completely explain is the rectangular outline around the name. I don't know how the letters were actually "cut in" but I wondered if they used something like a router or milling machine which made these marks while cutting the letters. I can't completely explain them. David Brown postulated that the
name might have been painted around while avoiding painting between the letters. That's entirely possible but the outline almost looks like it has been "scratched". Thoughts anyone?

Regards,
Bob Read
 

Steven Hall

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I now agree (in light of what had been previously discussed) with Ken, and those that have seen the Nomadic that the sheer weight of evidence does not support the suggestion that the letters were raised.
I would sign the part of the discussion off as done.

Bob,
I just through my hat in the ring originally. My posts thereafter became a further development (or expansion) of the topic.

Yes, I was originally making a statement.
[B.R] “Is your question when was the name Titanic actually applied to Titanic?”
Yes.
When one research’s a particular idea on their own (which I did in this case over 5 years ago), there conclusions don’t have the benefit of input or debate factored in by a third party. What I posted originally is an example of exactly that.
With the input into the topic now being discussed by others, my opinions are changing.
The value of open forum discussion is clearly apparent.
 

Steven Hall

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Fig 1 and fig 4
The below two images superimposed with opacity on the pre-launch image is far from exacting science.
Even allowing for the phenomena known as parallax (angular shifting of an object caused by a change in position of the observer) the spacing pairs up ominously accurate.
Having this happen by random chance is not high.
The retoucher (as Ken identified him), must have had something on the plate as a guide when he retouched the plate. I had to slightly adjust the angle of the letters — however the spacing is too hard to argue away.
What has me interested most of all is the letter C
A strong case for the letters being there pre-launch is presently quiet strong. What I have to post up later may however turn this 180 degrees.

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Steven Hall

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I must make a correction. Fig 5 sepia fig 6 are actually H-1560.
The difference (in date) in frames H-1561 & H-1561a to that of H-1560 is at least several days (or more).
fig’s 5 & 6 (when seen full frame) reveal that the port side anchor had not been fitted at this time — while in fig’s 3 & 4 (full frame) it had been.
I’ve examined the fig 5 (and seen below) and found only the letter -A- visible to my satisfaction. Even this letter I harbour doubts it has been incised — only marked. Parts of the letter -A- are visible below the sub-line underneath.
My gut feeling is that no letters had been incised into the plate at the time it was fixed to the hull — or when Welsh captured this photograph.
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Paul Lee

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Aug 11, 2003
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On a slightly different note, we have good pictures of the ship's stern as she went into the water in Belfast. Did those show any name? Its possible that if the stern didn't have a "proper" name, then the bow might not have had either.

Cheers

Paul

 

Steven Hall

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In the days that followed, it’s probable (in my opinion) that the letters had been incised into the plate. Frames H-1561 and H-1561a taken latter hints that the work had been completed because the spacing and size basically line up with the retoucher’s handy work. To myself, there is little dispute that where the — C - should be in fig 5 there is simply no evidence — nor on other (certain) letters.
The tower with a device — possibly a pneumatic cutting tool can be seen next to the letter —T-. (?) To the left of the tower. (not the itched first —T-)
Lets not take every thing I say as gospel — it’s only my opinions.
[more tomorrow]

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Bob Read

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Steve:
I believe that evidence from Titanic's sisters allows us to conclude that:

1. When the plate where the name appears was
attached to the frame there was no name on it.

2. The name was cut into the plate before launch.

I think the above two statements are true from
photo evidence. However, if anyone has contradictory evidence I'd be glad to reconsider.

One reason why H&W did not cut the ships name into the plate before it was attached to the frames may have been because there was precedent
for White Star changing its mind about a ship name during construction. It probably was easier
to cut the name in later on the ship than to
tear out a whole plate to replace it with one with a different name.

Regards,
Bob Read
 

Steven Hall

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"Does the name appear on the bow on those pictures taken shortly after launch?"
Paul, I will get to that tomorrow.

Bob, I believe like you said - the name went on before launch.

What's interesting is that fig 2 shows the letters positioned differently when she left Southampton - and viewing the dive footage again that at least one letter and possibly 3 are missing.

I believe before she left Belfast they had a second bite of the cherry regarding the port side name plate. This brings me back to sectionalized (letter grouping) plates
 
Mar 3, 1998
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If the conclusions at which the group is arriving are true, then I would offer the following speculation:

- The ship's name was cut into the shell plating at some point in time after plating had been completed and before the hull's launch.

- The steel plating was painted soon after the plating process was complete (probably in sections), in order to protect the steel from the elements. Therefore, the blank plate that would bear the ship's name was already painted when work began to cut the name into the steel. The paint would protect the plate until the time came to cut in the letters.

- Cutting the letters into the steel obviously exposed bare steel to the elements, so the area was repainted after the cutting work was complete. I suggest that a large rectangular area around the letters was painted for the sake of complete coverage and aesthetics. Slight differences in the paint used (or even the age of the paint) might account for the "separate panel" that seems to appear in certain photographs. It's not a separate panel after all, but rather a defined area of fresher paint.

- The gold in the letters was filled in later.

This is my speculation, based on what I see in the photos and the discussion about the subject here. Honestly, I hadn't thought so deeply about this subject before this conversation came up.

Parks
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Following through with this line of thought, then Olympic wouldn't have a similar shape around her letters because her entire hull was repainted after launch.

Parks
 
Mar 3, 1998
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One last data point, then I'm done...plating of #401 was completed in October 1910, about seven months before her launch. The older paint could have been exposed to as much as 7 months' worth of sun and elements before her name was cut in.

Parks
 

Dan Cherry

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Dec 14, 1999
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Paul,
I didn't see an answer to your question about the stern lettering, so here goes:

Yes, the name and registry was cut in on the stern before launch. A picture (going from memory here, will confirm later) in I think Leo Marriott's book "Titanic" shows a decent reproduction of a photo of the hull on the gantry prior to launch. The name and registry can be discerned. From what I've seen, it's the only pre-launch picture I've seen showing this, and between this and the Queenstown photo from April 11, 1912 have I seen the name on the stern at all...
 

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