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Behind the Glass: White Star Line Silverware

Conservation work on White Star Line silverware.

Shannon polishing White Star Line silverware
Join us as we investigate the impressive conservation work involved in maintaining our collections.
Here, one of our conservators, Shannon, demonstrates the process for removing tarnish from our White Star Line silverware.

The White Star Line provided facilities that rivalled the best restaurants and hotels on land. This is reflected in this collection of silver tableware that was used for Saloon (First Class) passengers. It includes napkin rings, serving dishes, coffee pots, and even a toothpick holder. If you look closely you can see the distinctive White Star Line logo appears on many of them. Some of the tableware was silver plated rather than silver. The majority of silver-plated tableware used in White Star Line vessels from 1871 to 1934 was manufactured by Elkington & Co. Ltd., Birmingham. This pattern was in use from the early 1870s up to 1911 when it was superseded by a new pattern called “Olympic”.

Whilst on display in our Titanica exhibition at the Ulster Transport Museum, these silver objects had started to tarnish, a chemical reaction that occurs between silver and the air around it. To ensure their appearance is in keeping with how they would have looked when in use by passengers, our Object Conservator recently removed them from the gallery for treatment. Watch this video to find out what happens behind the scenes when objects go to our conservation lab for cleaning.