Lot 399 | A Pair of Silver-Plated 'Transat' Champagne Buckets from the SS Normandie, $2,000-3,000
Aptly named after the Northern French region, the SS Normandie was one of the best known ocean liners of the early 20th century and considered to be the largest and fastest of its era. Launched on October 29, 1932, the Normandie epitomized both streamlined design and engineering. Its lavish Art Deco interiors, designed by Roger-Henri Expert (1882-1955), served as the upscale environment for the ship’s overwhelmingly First Class passengers. The many rooms were bedecked with furnishings that reflected Norman history and luxury French finishes, including monumental murals and bas-relief sculptures, Lalique glass chandeliers and Raymond Subes furniture designs, among others.
The Normandie’s extreme cost was a losing battle for financiers, as the ocean liner failed to make a significant profit. The Normandie’s parent company, Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, competed with the RMS Queen Mary in attracting wealthy travelers, which was certainly a factor in the extravagant ship’s demise. Ultimately, World War II cut short the Normandie’s ocean liner career, and the ship was transferred to the U.S. Navy for use in transporting military personnel. Renamed the USS Lafayette, the ship burned in an accidental fire on February 9, 1942, and the resulting damage was deemed too great to make the ship recoverable.
Items collected and salvaged from the Normandie continue to command interest in the auction market, partially for their ephemeral nature but also for their unchanging influence on design enthusiasts. Four lots featured in the February 25 European Lifestyle auction display the opulence of table settings onboard. Designed by Luc Lanel for Christofle shortly after the Normandie’s inception, the silver-plated wares’ engraved surfaces will surely become the focal point of a collector’s tablescape.
The European Lifestyle
Auction February 25, 10AM EST