Modern Americans usually think of April 15 as tax day. But it’s also the anniversary of something even direr: the sinking of the RMS Titanic. This week marks the 104th anniversary of that tragic event.
At Old World Stoneworks, we want to pause for a moment and remember that 1,517 people – more than two-thirds of the passengers – died after the ship hit an iceberg.
We also want to remember the beauty of the ship itself.
Never Before Seen
The Titanic would be a spectacularly crafted ship today. But in 1912, it was the most opulent ship anybody had ever seen. And well it should have been – three thousand workers toiled for more than two years to build the 883-foot long, 175-foot tall ship. Amenities included a squash court, gym, Turkish bath, two libraries and a swimming pool.
The Smoking Room on the Titanic
At Old World Stoneworks, our favorite part of the Titanic was the smoking room. Though scholars and amateurs love to debate this fact, most suspect that the first-class smoking room housed the Titanic’s only working fireplace. The smoking room fireplace burned coal, which was kept beside the fireplace in a special receptacle called a coal hod. A steward was probably responsible for refilling the coal from coal bins in the restaurant galley every week or so. On the Titanic, coal was the standard fuel for ovens and ranges.
The smoking room’s chimney rose to the deckhouse roof, where it made a 90-degree turn. Smoke exited through the Number 4 funnel.
Only men were admitted to the elegant smoke room, which featured Georgian-style mahogany paneling inlaid with mother of pearl. Affluent gentlemen could knock back a few drinks from the bar while warming their hands by the ship’s one real fireplace. Above the mantel hung a Norman Wilkinson painting called “Approach to the New World.”
The first class lounge, and the reading and writing room, had very genuine-looking dummy fireplaces. Architectural conventions of the time – very good ones, we think – called for a fireplace as a focal point. In these rooms, and some of the top-tier staterooms, fake ceramic coal appeared to glow in the grates. But the heat actually came from electricity.
In 1912, faux fireplaces were common on steamships. For example, the Lusitania had four dummy fireplaces and one real, coal-burning one. When you think about it, lighting fires on a ship can prove to be a poor idea, so it’s no wonder there weren’t more working fireplaces.
The Titanic’s Legacy
So many of today’s goods are mass-produced overseas, designed to be disposable or to quickly become obsolete. That’s probably why people are captivated by the beautiful craftsmanship of the Titanic, and the elegance of that earlier time. At Old World Stoneworks, we believe we’re doing our part to keep older craft ideals alive. That’s why real people are responsible for every step of making our beautiful cast stone mantels and range hoods. And our products are made right here in America.
If you’re inspired by tales of the Titanic, and ready to add just a touch of glamour to your home, call us today.