On the Water

Cocktail Table, SS United States

This round aluminum-and-glass cocktail table was among the furnishings in the Duck Suite, the first-class luxury accommodations that included three upper-deck cabins aboard the ocean liner SS United States. Known as the most luxurious of the 14 first-class suites on the ship, these rooms were typically chosen by the United States’ most well-to-do passengers, from movie stars to British royalty. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, regular passengers on the rival ship Queen Mary, switched their loyalties to the United States during the mid-1950s and booked the Duck Suite, which was their favorite lodging at sea for a time.

Like all of the furniture on this flagship of the United States Line, the table was crafted of flame-resistant metal. Launched in 1952, the ship was filled with aluminum furnishings. The ship’s architect, William Francis Gibbs, designed the vessel to be as fireproof as possible, and selected aluminum for its safety and aesthetic appeal. And while the massive amounts of aluminum did make the United States one of the safest ships ever launched, the metallic, modern décor also gave it a special feel unlike any other ocean liner. Most liners were decorated with opulent wood carvings and even had working fireplaces to make passengers feel as if they were sitting in their own living room or library. However, Gibbs put aside this notion of Victorian comfort with his new interior decorating style. The United States was the epitome of 1950s and 1960s design: sleek, modern, and practical.

ID Number:
TR*336767.022
Date:
1950s
Dimensions:
18 in x 25 in; 45.72 cm x 63.5 cm
Source:
Transfer from US Department of Commerce, Maritime Administration (through R. J. Blackwell)