Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcases / Agnes M / White Star Britannic

Posted in Boats, Family, History, Ocean Liners, Ships, Transportation, Travel, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 05/06/2014

Peggy and I had a very productive day shooting the suitcases yesterday.  We are continuing to make great progress, and still have hopes that we can finish all the cases by the end of the year.

I have always been fascinated by the labels that are on some of the cases and this one is particularly interesting.  The White Star Line has an interesting history and even though there is a bit of confusion about the name of the ship here, I am quite sure it is the Britannic.  (On the label it seems to say Britanica, but when I did an online search only Britannic came up.)  The “Sailing from” line is very difficult to read, but it looks to be Qu….town (Queenstown?) and the sailing date is “Sep 28”.  The port of landing (such a quaint phrase) is definitely New York.  You can see the U.S. Customs sticker in the shot below.

So, as usual, lots of questions come up and I am hoping that anyone who knows about ocean liners and travel might have some suggestions about what route this might have been for Agnes M.  If any of you want to do some serious work on this, I can email a high res file of the label.

Karen Miller, my friend who is using the cases and their owners as a basis for writing amazing poems was in Rotterdam with us yesterday, and she and I realized that we were both passengers on the SS United States in 1957.  She was on her way to the UK to live there for a year with her family, and I was returning from some months in Europe and the UK with my family.  I posted about that trip here.

15 Responses

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  1. jennifer gossman illustration said, on 05/06/2014 at 10:50 am

    these are wonderful shots intimate and emotional

  2. jamtur01 said, on 05/06/2014 at 11:00 am

    It’s likely to be have been Queenstown, Ireland (Now Cobh – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobh) to New York. The route was Liverpool, Queenstown the next day and then onto New York.

    http://www.dippam.ac.uk/ied/records/21047

    • joncrispin said, on 05/06/2014 at 11:03 am

      James, thank you so much. Jon

      • jamtur01 said, on 05/06/2014 at 11:09 am

        Any date other than Sep 28? If you send me through the hi-res I can probably find the exact trip and possibly the passenger manifest if you’re interested.

      • jamtur01 said, on 05/06/2014 at 11:12 am

        Oh and it is same route as that of the Titanic – the most famous of the White Star Line’s ships.

      • jamtur01 said, on 13/07/2014 at 4:01 pm

        Also for posterity here’s my other information on the label etc:

        The US Customs stamp is a Type 10 Series L baggage inspection stamp.
        That dates it between the 1920s and 1930s – most likely between July
        1928 to June 22, 1936. If it was in better condition it’d actually
        probably be worth something (maybe $50) to a collector.

        Since the MV Brittanic (she was the third ship of that name run by the
        White Star Line BTW) was launched 6th August 1929 and she only sailed
        the Liverpool/Queenstown(Cobh)/New York route from 28th June 1930 to
        19th April 1935 we can assume the trip was in that time frame. It’s also
        pre the Cunard acquisition of White Star (we can see from the WSL
        baggage label) so those dates fit too.

  3. joncrispin said, on 05/06/2014 at 12:06 pm

    James, just emailed you the hi res versions. Thanks

  4. leamuse said, on 05/06/2014 at 12:37 pm

    Interesting. Do you have a link for the poems? Perhaps you can share it?

    • joncrispin said, on 05/06/2014 at 12:46 pm

      Leamuse, I have been encouraging Karen to put the poems up online, and I believe she is working on it. They are amazing. She is also a full time working psychiatrist, and has complete access to the medical records of the suitcase owners. As you can imagine her poems are very moving. I’ll let her know of your interest. Best, and thanks for following and liking the posts. Cheers, Jon

      • leamuse said, on 05/06/2014 at 12:59 pm

        What an opportunity for her. My background is in Psychology and I am also a poet so my interest is very keen. I shall look forward to reading them should they become available. Merci beaucoup! Léa

  5. Barbara S. said, on 05/06/2014 at 9:53 pm

    So interesting! Lot’s of things to “google”… I do enjoy your posts!

  6. Frank said, on 19/06/2014 at 9:58 am

    On 21 November 1916, the second sister ship of Titanic, HMHS Britannic, was lost after striking a mine laid by SM U-73[15] in the Kea Channel of the Aegean Sea off the coast of Greece. It sank in 57 minutes with the loss of 30 lives and was the largest vessel sunk in the war. Britannic was the sister ship of the HMS Titanic. One port of call before New York was Queenstown, Ireland — Many of the stickers on baggage and entry records are misspelled. Not everyone who worked in ‘regular jobs’ in those days seem to have had a complete education…or at least no ‘spell check’ . F.

    • jamtur01 said, on 13/07/2014 at 4:00 pm

      Wrong ship. That’s the HMHS Britannic. She sank well before this trip. The ship she travelled on was the MV Britannic. It was the third ship of that name in the White Star Line fleet.


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