This is an actual photo transferred and enlarged on canvas of an A Deck hallway on the starboard side of Queen Mary. My father and I trod this very hallway as it leads to staterooms A101 to A207. We occupied A135. This and other 1st Class hallways were over 700 feet long. They were referred to by the traveling public and crew as “never-ending hallways” due to the fact that the ends could not be seen. The transfer of an actual snapshot into a large, stretched canvas was done by a company named Fine Art America. I believe you would be impressed, perhaps enough to purchase an enlarged photo of your own. Their website is http://www.fineartamerica.com.
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This waterline model of Queen Mary is built in the tradition of what were called “Studio Models” in the middle decades of the 20th century. They were designed to attract potential North Atlantic travelers and displayed in the windows of upscale travel agencies. In the late 50s, air travel had advanced to the ability to fly from New York to Europe in 11 hours or so. Before this time, ocean liners were literally “The Only Way to Go.” The Queen Mary was made a dinosaur nearly overnight by advances in technology gained during World War II and only dreamed of at the time of her maiden voyage in 1936. Not only was it cheaper to fly, but reaching the opposite ends of the Atlantic in hours rather than days was very much embraced by the traveling public. The jets spelled the end for great liners like Queen Mary. Cunard White Star tried to utilize her majesty as a cruise ship but she was so large, she couldn’t fit into the smaller ports. She was built for the North Atlantic to transport huge numbers of passengers at magnificent speed in unparalleled luxury. She was retired in 1967 and sailed on her last voyage to Long Beach, CA to be turned into a museum and hotel.
Nearly 6 feet long, one can see in the photographs that the studio models were quite impressive. Mine was built by Ered Mathews and it is quite detailed and built using original building plans. The specially-built table it rests upon is 32 inches tall, 18 inches wide, and 72 inches long. My collection is taking up more and more room in my house and I hope to one day live in a large house with a room specifically built for Queen Mary memorabilia with this table and model in the center with ceiling floodlights shedding light upon it. I have a 10 year-old nephew who informed me upon seeing it that all he wants from my estate when I die is this model!
The photographs above capture a few unusual items of memorabilia from Queen Mary. From her maiden voyage to the early 60s, souvenirs with exotic, incandescent butterfly wings were used in photos, ashtrays, and jewelry. As can be seen, these souvenirs have withstood the decades and remained primarily blue but many have faded to brown or, worse, turned to dust and simply discarded. My collection includes a framed example, a ring still in its case, a brooch, an ashtray, a tieback, and cufflinks. In today’s politically correct society, Cunard White Star would have outraged many by killing butterflies to display their wings as a background for hand-painted vignettes of the ship. But these souvenirs were quite popular in the middle of the last century and, fortunately, many have remained incredibly preserved, serving as a herald to a bygone era of ocean travel aboard the most successful, popular liner of all time.
The above-pictured caps from Queen Mary are, from left to right, a steward’s cap, a captain’s cap, and a sailor’s cap. I am not as knowledgeable about the caps from her majesty as other pieces of memorabilia but recognize them from the black and white footage of her at sea. The steward’s cap has the double house flags of Cunard and White Star emblazoned above the bill. The captain’s cap is identical to the one worn by Commodore Edgar Britten on the maiden voyage and seen in the interviews he gave upon arrival in New York. There is also an identical one displayed in the captain’s suite in Long Beach today. The sailor’s cap is not only captured in the black and white films but also in advertisements of sailors climbing the rigging or working on deck. The captain’s cap is in the best shape of the three and is heavily embroidered. The attention to detail is remarkable on the caps as was everything on the liner. Craftsmanship was Cunard White Star’s hallmark on Queen Mary. If anyone has more information on these spectacular pieces, please contact me.
This recently acquired navy/burgundy robe came from a Queen Mary passenger in 1939 according to its owner’s grandson. I have never seen another but the fragile nature of the collar and shoulders indicate decades of age. The man I bought it from related that his grandparents had enjoyed the pool on a Southampton to New York voyage but his grandfather had forgotten a robe. While towels were certainly plentiful, I simply do not have photos of passengers using this Cunard White Star garment. A pool attendant produced this robe and the grandfather was delighted with its embroidered detail and the attendant supposedly told him to pack it along with his other clothing as there were plenty more and one missing would not be noticed. With the obvious age and attention to detail in the embroidery, I tend to believe the story. At any rate, it is a marvelous piece of memorabilia with expert detail which was a penchant of Cunard White Star.
This commemorative liquor bottle from the Queen Mary has never been opened. The contents of Creme de Menthe can be heard splashing when handling the exquisite piece. It was made by Garnier of France. The sticker and cork have never been removed from her first smokestack as can be seen by the photos. An internet search reveals that occasionally the Creme de Menthe stains the white superstructure but so far, this example is pristine. One of my favorite, unique pieces!
Except for the poster depicting the swimming pool aboard Queen Mary, these impressive reproductions are a treat for the eye. The 2 largest are over 20 years old and the smaller, gold-trimmed one is about 5 years old. The poster advertising the First-Class Swimming Pool and stating “Getting There is Half the Fun” is an actual advertisement from the 1950s. The reproductions of the older posters indicating “Cunard White Star” illuminate the change of ocean travel during the Queen‘s career. Through the 1930s and 1940s, Cunard White Star attempted to sway travelers to their liners with the magical illustrations when crossing the Atlantic was only possible by ship. The posters exuded class, style, and sophistication. But the increase in technology gained from World War II enabled jets to cross the pond in hours rather than days during the 1950s and ship passengers began to dwindle. Cunard dropped White Star from their name, changed their advertising efforts to holiday, and attempted to entice travelers with the public relations catch phrase “Getting There Is Half The Fun”. Queen Mary began losing money for Cunard as a result and although she sailed until 1967, she and other giant liners became dinosaurs. Aside from the liner United States which awaits redemption from her rusty exterior and stripped interiors on the East coast, the Queen Mary is the only liner in the world to showcase the golden era of ocean travel. An engineer friend from California stated recently that the Queen could potentially last 300 years given proper protection from corrosion and rust. We can only be bold by exclaiming to future generations, “Long live the Queen!”
The above black and white photo (courtesy of the Craig and Shara Anderson collection) shows what the Long Gallery’s original clock looked like during her career. It was nearly 4 foot wide and completely hand-carved. Once Queen Mary arrived in Long Beach, though, the renovators tore out this beautiful clock and the wreath of musical instruments and hands were divided into several separate pieces and sold at auction. While I would certainly love to own the complete wreath, I have 2 segments on display in my bedroom as seen in the color photos. The attention to detail and the sheer enterprise of creating such a masterpiece is remarkable. In fact, most of the wood aboard her majesty were treated with human hands, not machines. It is an inescapable fact that no present liner can even approach Queen Mary’ s grandeur. Mankind will never build such a hands-on liner again and although it is shameful that so much was thoughtlessly dismantled by Long Beach, at least her corridors and public rooms are essentially the same as when she sailed.
A marketing friend suggested that I commission a video for distribution on YouTube. Videographer Keith Kingery did a splendid job – his first YouTube video! You will see a very few items from my extensive Queen Mary collection. I was a Communications minor in college and have been involved in many civic organization events by voice-overs, narration for videos, emceeing events, acting in community and college theatre, and voicing church programs. But I had never really heard myself. That Midwestern twang is embarrassing and awful. I had no idea I sounded like that! And snobby to boot!
Please view the link below. The background music played during the excerpt reading is from the soundtrack of the ABC TV series DARK SHADOWS entitled “The Secret Room”. I very much welcome your observations and comments!