Tag Archives: Cunard White Star

Nearly 6 Foot Long QUEEN MARY Model

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!

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QUEEN MARY Butterfly Wing Souvenirs

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.

 

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QUEEN MARY Caps

Officer caps 001Officer caps 002Officer caps 003Officer caps 004The 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.

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QUEEN MARY Robe from First-Class Pool

QM Pool Robe 001 QM Pool Robe 002 QM Pool Robe 003 QM Pool Robe 004This 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.

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Scale Model of QUEEN MARY

Museum Tour 001 018This scale model of Queen Mary is over 3 feet long and built from metal, wire, plastic, and pewter.  It is one of only a few ever built in the world by a company called Maritime Replicas.  Since only a few were built, it cost approximately $3,800.00.  But the model is worth it due to its rarity, craftsmanship, and extraordinary scale.  The photos do not do it justice.  Presently, I have an extremely rare, perhaps one of a kind, waterline model which is 5 1/2 foot long being refurbished.  It was used as a travel agency display in the 30s, 40s, and 50s in New York.  It will be necessary to send this particular model freight. I will have a table built to accomodate it and place it behind my living room sofa which is, thankfully, an inch longer so that the display will not be wider.  I am anxious to receive it and builder/refurbisher Ered Matthew of CabinClass.com states that it is the finest waterline model of a ship he has ever encountered.

I use the 3 foot long model for school and library presentations, most recently the “Read Aloud Day” at Eldorado Elementary for a fifth-grade class.  Students are read period pieces concerning the building of the ship, the launch, the maiden voyage, and the present day existence of her majesty as a hotel, tourist attraction, and museum.  By the fifth grade, most students are capable of imagining a ship as long as the Empire State Building is tall lying on its side in the water.  As students a row at a time stand and inspect the model, awe and wonder always ensue and the questions last for a considerable time.

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QUEEN MARY Head Waiter Jacket

Head Waiter 001Head Waiter 002Head Waiter 003Head Waiter 004This Head Waiter jacket is stained, faded, and musty, but the elegance and stateliness of dining First Class on Queen Mary still shines through even after 8 decades.  A sight of the First Class Dining Room at dinner definitely would have been awe-inspiring.  With musicians playing softly, the silver glistening, and china lightly clinking while the men were dressed in tuxedoes and the women in evening gowns, the whole scene must have looked choreographed.  The Head Waiter was in command of 200 waiters.  In the kitchen were 50 chefs and 200 cooks.  This ensemble seamlessly served 800 First Class passengers in one sitting.

The oak clothes hanger came from a stateroom and dates pre-World War II as it designates Cunard White rather than simply Cunard which the line name changed to after the war.

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QUEEN MARY Gift Shop

ImageImageImageImageImageAbove are just a few of the items available to passengers of Queen Mary in her gift shops.  The plates and tile were pre-World War II given the fact that they are designated “Cunard White Star” which ceased to exist after the war when the line simply became “Cunard”.  The clocks are sound, unsoiled, and made from the high-end clockmaker Empire Smith of England.  Unfortunately, they no longer keep time after nearly 8 decades which can be expected.  The Norah Wellings doll was, of course, quite popular with little girls.  The linen handkerchief is in remarkable condition with no holes, repairs, or missing fringe.  The small ashtray with the liner painted from the inside is actually mounted above the butterfly wings which are also very well preserved.  The brass ashtray was black when I purchased it but it cleaned and shined beautifully.  The silver spoon also displays the “Cunard White Star” stamp.  The round compact is perfectly preserved and still has ancient powder and an unbroken mirror inside.  The framed print, once again designated “Cunard White Star” is one of my favorite, if not most favorite of the items I own from a gift shop.  It is 34″ X 25″.          

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Chessboard from QUEEN MARY Lounge

ImageThe chessboard pictured above was purchased approximately 5 years ago from a dealer in England.  As I recall, it cost $450.00 and since I had only seen one other in all the years I have collected Queen Mary memorabilia, I snatched it up.  This past week, I was contacted by another dealer in California with an example identical to this one who asked $2,500.00.  He is a friend who graciously gives me first dibs on Queen Mary pieces he comes across and when I explained that I already had one but thanked him, he was uncertain as whether to list it on Ebay or contact other collectors first.  He called this morning and excitedly told me he had sold it to a collector who offered $3,000.00 not to list it on Ebay.  I have long been advised that my Queen Mary collection was an investment that would only increase in value as the years went by.  Indeed, judging by the transaction of the chessboard, I may need to have my collection appraised and buy an insurance policy!

The chessboard has individually cut squares of walnut and other woods I am not familiar with and stained in light oak and dark mahogany.  It is quite heavy to prevent movement in heavy seas and as far as I know, was used exclusively on Queen Mary in the First Class Lounge.   

  

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QUEEN MARY Maiden Voyage Anniversary

ImageImageImageImageImageMay 27 will be the 78th anniversary of Queen Mary’s Maiden Voyage.  The event was very much celebrated on both sides of the Atlantic and the liner was booked to capacity.  Attached are a few items commemorating that day.  The tie was made exclusively for the Maiden Voyage by Austin Reed and sold to first-class passengers aboard ship.  The paper napkin with the image of ship and date is in remarkable condition considering its age.  The chrome-plated ship’s propeller was given out free by the Magnesium Bronze and Brass Company who built the four propellers.  Its face says “R.M.S. Queen Mary – MAIDEN VOYAGE 27 MAY 1936″.  It, too, has survived the decades with the plating intact.  The bronze medallion was also available in the gift shops and is quite rare.  The cup and saucer are made by Aynsley, a fine British china maker, also sold aboard.  The press coverage was tremendous and thousands upon thousand of Brits watched the departure from Southampton and thousands upon thousands watched the arrival in New York.  Radios around the world broadcast the occasion in varying languages, detailing the hustle and bustle of pleasure craft surrounding her.  Movies made from that day were shown in theatres around the world before the feature films.  Of course, England longed for the much coveted Blue Riband of the Atlantic for the fastest Atlantic crossing but fog hindered the Queen’s speed and she did not break the record until August.  She held the title of largest and fastest liner for the next 14 years.    

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QUEEN MARY Silver and Gold

Queen Mary offered dining experiences which rivaled even the most chic restaurants ashore.  The gold-plated fruit basket and silver vase in my collection can be clearly seen in the above photo from 1952.  While the carnations and fruit are fake in my collection (thank you, Jeff Cox from Nature’s Nest!), Cunard White Star offered fresh flowers and fruit to all First-Class passengers.  When the line attempted to substitute silk arrangements in the early 60’s, the outrage from faithful travelers was so intense that fresh flowers were once again utilized despite the cost.  Interestingly, the presentation versus quality of a meal at sea was very evident as an article in TIME magazine bluntly stated that while the trappings of a First Class dining experience was superior to any other liner, the quality of British food was very much lacking.  The British were emphatically notImageImageImageImage famous for satisfying the palate as opposed to the French but the presentation did indeed surpass any prepared at sea or ashore.   

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