Chair, First-Class SuiteItem Number: 75245 $4,950.00
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One of the most exciting aspects about this passion of ours is learning new things, and this chair is a good example. Based on all my years of research, I thought this was simply a rare surviving item from one of Cunard’s two greatest money earners, the RMS Queen Elizabeth, that had been transferred to the Queen Mary. Imagine my surprise when I saw a photo showing this exact chair on board the Queen Mary! Patterns in wood are like fingerprints—no two are the same. Note the dark streak on the back leg that is indicated by the arrow.
It is a special thing to be able to identify an exact item of furniture on board, but it is all the more so when you realize that this exact chair was in the suite occupied by (and certainly used by) actress Elizabeth Taylor during her honeymoon on board the Queen Mary with Conrad Hilton in 1950.
All my research had lead me to conclude this solid sycamore chair was originally made for one of suites on board the Queen Elizabeth. We know for certain that loads of furniture was moved around the fleet during the post-war years, and there are still examples of Queen Elizabeth furniture on the Queen Mary today. It is not as generally known, but Cunard spent heaps of money in the late 1940’s to bring all the ships in the fleet in line with the looks of the Queen Elizabeth. The Queen Mary’s original interiors were toned down somewhat, and the late 1920’s decor of Britannic was updated. Huge amounts were spent in this effort, which was designed to give the fleet a continuity of look. Given the early date of it being on board the Queen Mary, I believe this chair was made for the redecoration in 1947 and was probably never on the Queen Elizabeth.
Not too many people own furniture from the suites on the Queen Mary, and as far as I know, no one owns a chair that can be linked directly to such a famous passenger in period photos. Can’t you see it gracing your home as a key item in your collection? It measures about 34″ x 22″ x 20.5″.
Archival photo: RMS Queen Mary Archives.