R.M.S. Olympic - 2004 Auction Photo Gallery


In mid-2004 it was announced that on 4 September of that year, a major auction of Olympic fittings would be held at the old Akzo Noble paint factory in Haltwhistle, England.  These were not items that had been found tucked away for 70 years, but rather the fittings were well known throughout the Titanic community as being the largest number of items from Olympic in one location. 

Presented here for the first time are candid photos of the removal of the Olympic artifacts at the Haltwhistle paint factory in preparation for the 2004 auction.


The original famous cut-away painting that White Star used in many of its promotional pieces.  The new owner had this painting painstakingly restored in Italy.
In the factory, at the top of the second-class stairway, several arched windows were installed.
The windows being removed shortly after the auction.
One of the windows after removal.  One purchaser intended to install his prize in his home!
For many years, this dome was thought by employees of the factory to be from Olympic.  It was a puzzle, however, because the shape did not match any known dome on Olympic. 
The opening left by the dome.
Despite the great care taken, one pane of glass was broken as the dome was being removed. 

This photo clearly shows that the shape of this dome is different from either of Olympic's two domes. 

Note the cut-glass bowl.  An identical unbroken one was found in a pile of debris inside Titanic by James Cameron during his 2001 exploration.  That is the only one on Titanic that has been found intact.  The majority of staircase fixtures were fitted with cut-glass bowls and not the famous beaded bowls as seen in early photos of Titanic's wreck.  The beaded bowls were only used on the Boat and A deck landings.
A collector's dream come true!  These were the most highly prized items at the auction and outstripped everything else in terms of price.
In the auction catalogue, these were listed as "linoleum floor tiles from her 1927 refit" and as being from the "landings off the Grand Staircase."  They are actually first-class corridor tiles that were in place at least as early as 1920.
Green floor tiles before they were taken up.  Note the dirt from 70 years of foot traffic and carpet glue. 
One of the biggest surprises as the dismantling continued was the discovery of pine decking from Olympic under the original floor tiles.  Here we see the corridor tiles being carefully removed, exposing the decking.
The exposed decking.

Cove moulding that may have come from the first-class corridors.  Second view shows the moulding as installed in the board room at the factory. 
Carpentry marks...
A selection of fittings including a decorative wrought iron grill from the second-class elevator doors.  Note the second-class Dining Room moulding.
Paneling and original doors.  The doors are thought to be from the first-class dining room.  These lead into the paint factory's canteen where the Olympic's Smoking Room ceiling was located. 

Hand carved freeze rail from the first-class staircase.  Almost 90 feet of this moulding was put up for sale.  Archival shows the moulding as originally installed in Olympic's staircase.  Photo from National Monuments Record collection. 
One of four paintings at the factory―all of which graced the half landings of Olympic's first-class staircases.

These paintings were done on wood and not canvas as one would expect.

The delicate hand-carved surrounds are original and are excellent examples of the exquisite carving found on board the White Star trio.

The company canteen, which contained much of the moulding from Olympic's Smoking Room ceiling.  It was redecorated in the mid 1990's to appear more like the Café Parisien on board Olympic.  Among the other fittings in the room were light fixtures from the first-class staircase, arched windows, and vent grills from the Smoking Room.
This section of moulding from the first-class Smoking Room was removed for sale.  None of this ceiling moulding sold at auction so it was then re-installed. 

This glazed door and the panels that went with it were incorrectly identified in the auction catalogue as being from the Café Parisien.  They are actually the walls of four vestibules located on Boat Deck and A Deck, which led into the staircase from the outside.  Note the archival from the Library of Congress showing Marie Currie on Olympic in the early 1920s.  The arrow points to the vestibule paneling. 

Archival photo work by Eric Longo.

One of the most remarkable finds in the factory were sections of the original avocado green paint from Olympic's staircase paneling which was painted in the 1932/1933 refit. 
If you're like most researchers, you've wondered how the Maids' and Valets' Saloon was decorated.  This may be as close as we ever get to knowing.  The table is marked on the bottom as being from this room along with Olympic's hull number.  This is the only known fitting from the room.

This plain oak table was designed to seat eight and was one of six in the room.

A close-up of the moulding from the second-class Dining Room.  Note the moulding as originally installed on Olympic in this archival photo from the shipbuilder. 
A huge amount of paneling was removed from the factory.  Here it is lined up for the viewing.
Since this was a paint factory, some of the colors chosen to paint the paneling were....  Well, let's just say that pink must not have sold well that year.
One of the entrances to the second-class Dining Room.  While in the factory, it lead into the Board Room.
The steps, paneling, and handrail from one of Olympic's second-class staircases.  According to one of the workers at the factory, the original red linoleum from Olympic was in place on the stairway until the late 1980's!
According to the auction catalogue, this window is from the second-class purser's office and is complete with the original mechanism to raise and lower the window.


All photos courtesy Raymond Cowell unless otherwise noted.

Thanks to Brian Hawley for his help with this page.

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