All in a Name: Titanic Items (Genuine and Phony) Chase Movie’s Popularity
A creamer in a pattern that was supposedly the same pattern used on the Titanic.
A creamer in the pattern (Wisteria) used on White Star Line vessels, including the Titanic.
The Wisteria creamer image (above right) is courtesy of Titanic Mementos.
One thing that can really raise values for antiques & collectibles across the board and in a hurry are anniversaries of historic events or intense media exposure, such as a television special or block buster movie. One of the memorable major occurrences of this was the release of the movie “Titanic” in 1997. Within days, items with even dubious links to that ship and the tragic event were dug out of attics, basements or garages across the country and carted off to local and National Road Show-type events.
What was more amazing than the “Titanic” items we appraised at the time were the family history’s that came with them. Some owners of these items had truly missed their calling and should have become Hollywood script writers. Most of these stories likely started out innocently enough, but these passed down through three or four generations, had become more fantastic with each telling.
The piece above on the left, a creamer, is a prime example of an item marked with the name “Titanic,” but has no connection with the ship itself. The owner was told that this was the same pattern that was supposedly used on the Titanic, but the ill-fated liner had already left the dock before the shipment arrived. Several things were wrong with the story, but the most obvious was the lack of a certain marks. All pottery and porcelain used on ships like the Titanic that belonged to the famous White Star Line carried the company’s White Star logo of a red pennant with a white star, over a banner that read “White Star Line.” The second problem is the style of this piece; its Art Deco design is of a style did not become popular until about 15 years after the famous liner sank.
The example on the right is not from the wreck of the Titanic itself, but is of one the same patterns (Wisteria) used on the White Star Line vessels. This pattern appeared well before Titanic’s construction and launch, and was used in First Class on other White Star passenger vessels of the period.
A great many companies have tried to capitalize on the fame of the Titanic in the past and commemorative ware is still being produced matching the Wisteria pattern originally used on the ship, along with other patterns used on the White Star line. Currently, it is possible to purchase almost exact replicas of Titanic dinnerware, retailing in the $35-150-per-plate range.
If your pocket book is big enough you can have your dinner on the real thing for about $20,000.1
1 One with a solid provenance from Margaret Easton, a Titanic survivor, was sold for this price by Hantman’s Auctioneers & Appraisers in 2004.
Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement.
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