Chair, Second-class cabinItem Number: 75012 $1,995.00
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Two amazingly comfortable solid-mahogany chairs from second-class cabins on the Queen Mary. These chairs have a fascinating history.
Originally used in second class on aboard the Mary, these chairs were eventually transferred for use on Caronia. This may sound like an odd thing to do, but transferring furniture from ship to ship was actually quite common at Cunard. As furniture on the ships became worn or damaged, it was brought ashore for repair. When finished, it was placed in storage until needed again on the Mary (or another ship of the line).
A little background: Cunard struggled mightily in the 1950’s with strikes due to crew working hours and conditions. On the Queens, little could be done to correct this although attempts were made. For Caronia, it was a different story. By 1958, ship traffic had fallen off drastically, and the secondary ships of each line were affected most. Traveling in the Queens still had a cachet and, as such, their passenger numbers were affected but not as badly as the smaller ships. People really did still want to travel on the “Big Ships.”
Caronia had been designed for cruising, and she was removed from the Atlantic in the summer months and sent full-time cruising. When she had to do crossings to begin a cruise in another port, she often would deadhead empty. One happy result of this was she stayed profitable. Additionally, the lowest grade second-class cabins were no longer needed for her all first-class cruise schedule. So many of those cabins were given over to crew which instantly made them the recipients of the best crew cabins at sea. After all, even the worst second-class cabins on Caronia had full bath facilities. This would have happened around 1958-1960, and at that time, these chairs were moved from Queen Mary to Caronia.
Several years ago, I met the woman who ran the auction sale for RMS Caronia’s fittings. She had quite a few items of furniture from the ship and was simply delightful to hang out with and listen to her stories and see her photographs. She and her husband were self-described starving actors in the early 1970’s. They also loved Art Deco furniture so when they heard about the upcoming sale of Caronia’s fittings they simply went over to the ship and presented themselves for service. Intriguingly, she later became a talent agent and went on to great success behind the scenes with Saturday Night Live. Those SNL stories which had nothing to do with ships were quite funny and fascinating. In the end, I purchased all the Cunard furniture she had on hand. She went on to tell me that they had recruited a lot of other starving actors to work the sale, and many of them had Caronia furniture as well. She kindly put me in touch with them, and one result was these chairs. They were some of the last items to come off the ship and were hand carried off in a rush by the actors just before customs agents shut down the sale! Once the chairs had been shipped to me from New York, I was surprised to discover that they were actually Queen Mary cabin chairs. The Queen Mary markings were painted over but still visible just above the Caronia markings.
They are solid mahogany with great style and are extremely comfortable. In fact, they are some of the most comfortable ship furniture I have ever sat in. Measures about 29″ x 27″ x 22″. Fully restored as you can see. A pair available, and the listed price is for each chair.