Ivernia (1955) Chest of DrawersItem Number: 51955 Sold
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Cunard’s 1950’s Canadian Quartet had to be one of the last sets of ships that was built in much the same way ships had been built for the preceding 100 years, meaning that they were custom built with very little sub contracting. No modular cabins to be found here, nearly each piece of furniture was built by John Brown’s craftsmen by hand. This mahogany chest of drawers is little changed from the same type put in second class on Queen Mary twenty years before. Despite its years of hard use, particularly under Russian ownership, as well as some time spent outside during India’s monsoons while the liner was being scrapped, this chest has held up nicely. What a testament to the high-quality John Brown construction.
After her time as a Canadian-bound transatlantic liner, Ivernia was rebuilt as the cruise ship Franconia in the mid 1960’s. When Cunard sold her in the early 1970’s, she became the Russian Fedor Shalyapin. In many ways we are fortunate that the Russians bought her and her sister since their lack of cash meant that the ships remained largely intact all the way up to their demise. Peter Knego, who saved this chest from the scrap heap, says it best: “What was run-of-the-mill in the mid-1950s has now become symbolic of an era often lamented. Wonderful wood veneers, classic British joinery, bakelite, molded plastic handles, and quaint fittings from the ‘glory’ days! She was the last unaltered classic Cunarder (save for the Queen Mary) and there would never be another chance to rescue such treasures.”
After purchasing the chest, I had it completely restored, and it glows again like it did back in 1955. Quite useful for storage or as a dresser in your bedroom. Its rich and warm mahogany tones are beautiful. There is some discoloration spots on the left-hand side of the chest and four holes where it was bolted to another piece of furniture while still in the cabin. (See archival photo.) One of the handles has discolored and weathered with time as well. There is a piece missing from the front corner of the original formica, but this could be cheaply and easily replaced since the formica is not glued on but rather held down by the fiddly rails and thus only a few screw-driver turns away from replacement. I will leave that to the new owner, however. The base is cut on an angle to fit the sheer of the deck. Stands about 32” tall, including the fiddly rail. It is 21” wide and 16” deep, not including the handles. If you need any additional photos, please let me know.