A chipped espresso cup and saucer thought to have been used by first-class passengers on board the Titanic has been sold for a small fortune at auction. The pieces of china which were unexpectedly found during a house clearance were sold for £6,000 on Wednesday (February 15), thousands of pounds more than the asking price.
The espresso cup and saucer, which dated back to 1911 were embossed with the code R4332 which was an exclusive batch of crockery made especially for the Titanic. The crockery was also stamped with ‘White Star Line’ - the name of the company which owned the Titanic ship.
The opulent pattern is believed to have been used in the ship’s first-class restaurant. However, some experts suggest the collection was produced in such limited numbers that it may have been used for room service on private promenade suites.
The cup and saucer, painted cobalt blue with gold gilt, were recently discovered during a house clearance in the Four Oaks area of Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands.
The owners were expecting it to fetch around £800 but a bidding war pushed up the price before an American buyer snapped them up for £6,000 at Wednesday’s auction.
Auctioneer Richard Winterton, who led the auction, said: “We had a tremendous amount of national and international interest in this lovely little cup and saucer, with people joining the auction online from all over the world.
“It was an exciting moment in the saleroom as bids flew in, finalising at a superb £6,000 from the winning bidder in the USA.”
Sarah Williams, senior valuer at Richard Winterton Auctioneers, said: “It’s incredible to hold this cup and saucer and think of first-class passengers sipping coffee on the Titanic. This example has a few small chips and wear commensurate with age but the pieces really are in remarkable condition for such delicate ceramics over 110 years old.
Titanic sank on April 15, 1912, after hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage with the loss of more than 1,500 lives. While both china pieces are marked with the White Star Line company name, the well of the saucer bears a gilt monogram of the Oceanic Steam Navigation and the cup is stamped ‘Stonier & Co Liverpool’ – the agents who facilitated the deal between Spode and the shipping company.