Original Bohemian-made porcelain - from the RMS Titanic - goes up for auction

07-12-2004

A small porcelain plate featuring a blackberry motif and made in Bohemia in 1911, has been offered for auction on the internet for an opening bid of just under 50, 000 U.S. dollars, and could conceivably go for a lot more. The reason? The plate is a one-of-a-kind memento taken from the doomed RMS Titanic as it sank on its maiden voyage on April 14th 1912. Only around 700 of more than 2,000 passengers survived, and, as Jan Velinger reports, one of them held on to this small plate.

One might find similar antique plates that have become family heirlooms in some of the older Czech families - but you can be fairly sure you won't find a plate like this one - anywhere. Made by the original Pirkenhammer porcelain company in West Bohemia in 1911, the blackberry-motif plate now up for auction was only ever publicly featured on a set made for the Titanic.

The plate's owner who has put it up for auction, Jay Sherman, told the Dallas Morning News that it had belonged to his great aunt.

Apparently she was booked on the Titanic at the last minute, and took the porcelain plate during the journey. She found it in her cabin.

One can only wonder what it must have then been like to survive the tragedy and to hold on to this one small object, as the only tangible reminder of the experience. There is something both eerie but also magical about this plate, which is in perfect condition.

Along with the blackberry design, the plate, which is just is 6" in diameter, features a company mark on the back, plus the words "Titanic" and "Austria". At the time Bohemia was part of the Austrian Empire.

The story has at least one more interesting angle: until now the plate's owner Jay Sherman was said to be homeless - apparently sleeping under a Dallas bridge. Even under such circumstances he had the sense to hang on to this small but fascinating historic piece.

07-12-2004