The Spode design R4332 may have been made exclusively for first class service on Titanic.

‘Titanic’ coffee cup and saucer discovered in Sutton Coldfield sail to auction in Lichfield

A RARE cup and saucer discovered in Sutton Coldfield are expected to sail to a Titanic price at auction in Lichfield.

The ‘liner china’ Spode in luxurious cobalt blue and gilt is pattern number R4332 – an exclusive design for use by first class passengers on the doomed Titanic.

Discovered during a house clearance in the Four Oaks area, the demitasse coffee cup and saucer go under the hammer in Richard Winterton Auctioneers’ Fine Art Sale on Wednesday, February 15, starting at 9.30am at The Lichfield Auction Centre.

Produced around 1911, both pieces are marked ‘White Star Line’, the well of the saucer bears a gilt monogram for the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company and the cup is stamped ‘Stonier & Co Liverpool’ – the agents which facilitated the deal between Spode and the shipping company.

Senior valuer Sarah Williams: “It’s incredible to hold this cup and saucer and think of first class passengers sipping coffee on the Titanic.”
Senior valuer Sarah Williams: “It’s incredible to hold this cup and saucer and think of first class passengers sipping coffee on the Titanic.”

The cup and saucer are estimated to fetch £800 to £1,200 at auction.

The opulent pattern is believed to have been used in Titanic’s first class restaurant but some experts suggest it was produced in such limited numbers that it may only have been used for room service on private promenade suites.

“It’s incredible to hold this cup and saucer and think of first class passengers sipping coffee on the Titanic,” said senior valuer Sarah Williams, senior valuer at Richard Winterton Auctioneers.

“This example has a few small chips and wear commensurate with age but the pieces really are in remarkable condition for such delicate ceramics over 110 years old.

the well of the saucer bears a gilt monogram for the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company
The well of the saucer bears a gilt monogram for the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company.

“There are conflicting theories as to whether the same pattern or one extremely similar, named R4331, was also used on Titanic’s sister ship Olympic, which was broken up in 1935.

“Whilst R4331 was used on both vessels, the R4332 may have been produced in such small numbers that it was reserved for exclusive use on Titanic, presented as a company gift or possibly sold as White Star Line souvenirs to wealthy passengers.

“Pieces of the distinctive R4332 ceramic are known to have been recovered from the wreck of Titanic.”

Both pieces are marked ‘White Star Line’.
Both pieces are marked ‘White Star Line’.

Both pieces are marked ‘White Star Line’.

Mrs Williams added: “Fuelled by James Cameron’s epic film, there remains endless fascination with the Titanic tragedy and the demand for ‘liner china’ – ceramics associated with maritime travel – remains high.

“This is a rare opportunity for a collector to acquire a piece with the heritage of bone china supplied on the world’s greatest ocean liner.”

Passenger liner RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on April 15 1912 after notoriously striking an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.

Of the estimated 2,224 passengers and crew aboard, more than 1,500 died and only 333 bodies were recovered.

It remains one of the worst ever peacetime shipping disasters.

The Spode design R4332 may have been made exclusively for first class service on Titanic.
The Spode design R4332 may have been made exclusively for first class service on Titanic.

Richard Winterton Auctioneers’ Fine Art Sale takes place on Wednesday, February 15, at The Lichfield Auction Centre, Fradley Park, WS13 8NF.

The sale starts at 9.30am and the digital catalogue can be viewed online a week before.

For viewing or valuation enquiries, telephone 01543 251081 or email office@richardwinterton.co.uk.

The same sale features nine signed drawings by Royal fashion designer Norman Hartnell discovered in the Barton, including concepts for dresses for Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother plus an archive of personal correspondence from poet and novelist Philip Larkin to his cousin in Lichfield.

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