Behind the Lace Curtains-TTS #56/2020 Table Setting Challenge #16, Titanic VIP Rooms China

Titanic. Just hearing the name brings up so many feelings simultaneously for me: the tragic loss of lives especially those in Steerage; of hopes and dreams never realized; of majesty and elegance; and how man's propensity to build the biggest can be taken away with one swift stroke of Mother Nature's hand. I have read books, looked at photographs and have seen three Titanic movies, and my favorite movie, of course, is the 1997 version due to director James Cameron's precise attention to detail from Rose's outfit when she got out of the car on the pier, to the mannerisms of all classes, the grandness of interiors, and of course the table settings.

Currently, I have two designs of genuine Titanic reproduction china: my Royal Crown Derby bread and butter plates presented previously in this Challenge, and this week's featured dinnerware made by an unknown manufacturer in the Philippines. This design was rarely seen even in Titanic's day. The originals were made by Spode Copeland and it is believed they were for the VIP rooms in First Class on the ill-fated ship. According to one website, only 190 pieces were ordered. The rooms are well within the interior of the ship, and current maritime laws governing the wreckage prevent any retrieval of artifacts from within the ship itself. Pieces from the debris field can be mined, but for now, whatever is in the ship must remain there. No one has seen this china since, and the only record of its existence are in Spode's design archives. Thankfully, this pattern has been reproduced by at least two companies, one the aforementioned unknown one and Woodmere.

I purchased my pieces from QVC, which offered reproductions in 2012 as part of the centennial of the ship's sinking. Offered were three-piece place settings consisting of a rimmed soup bowl, salad plate and dinner plate; cups and saucers; a teapot; and a covered sugar and creamer set. These were not expensive, but pieces by Woodmere do cost more. I initially purchased a service for six, but decided later to expand to a service for eight. I'm glad I did, because some of these pieces can be very hard to find! Each box contained a "romance card" that read: "In April of 1912, RMS Titanic embarked on a remarkable journey that has since captivated all who have heard its epic tale. After decades locked beneath the icy waters of the Atlantic, artifacts from the "ship of dreams" were recovered and now serve as the inspiration behind this extraordinary 100th Anniversary Collection. Each fascinating item carries with it the belief that our hopes are never truly gone and dreams never forgotten."

The design is absolutely gorgeous. Spode apparently didn't name the pattern, it is known simply as "R4342" in the "Sutherland" shape and dates to 1911. Spode offered a similar pattern dating from 1956-2009 called "Lancaster", but be prepared to be set back several hundred dollars for one piece if you decide to collect it!

For my table setting, I chose a beautiful hand-embroidered ecru linen table cloth and matching napkins (rummage sale) to serve as the foundation. This linen is very beautiful, but like all linen, takes a beating easily. I simply don't have the space or proper equipment to iron real linen the way it should be-sorry for the wrinkles! I chose Golden Royal Plume by Wm. Rodgers and Sons as the flatware (antiques shop in Butte, MT), because, well, this is the cream of Titanic's first class! Longchamp stems (various places) for water, white wine, red wine and champagne are at the ready to serve beverages, and each place setting has its own salt cellar (rummage sale) and pepper shaker (Mainstays, Walmart). The centerpiece is 100% Waterford Crystal (various places); in the center is the Thanksgiving/Harvest compote bowl, flanked by two Celebration votive holders (which look a lot like the original First Class crystal drinkware), and book-ended by the Wedding individual candlestick holders.

The menu was also 100% Titanic, chosen from "RMS Titanic, Dinner is Served" by Yvonne Hume, grand-niece of first violinist John Law Hume. These dishes were served to First Class on April 14, 1912.

Cream of Barley Soup
Chicken Lyonnaise
Parsnip and Potato Mash
Waldorf Pudding with French Vanilla Ice Cream

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