Friday, December 2, 2011
Booty: A Table Fit for a Commodore
Setting a table at sea was always tricky at best. The movement of the ocean made keeping china and silver in its place more troublesome than one might imagine. Fine dining sometimes went completely by the board due to weather or war but, whenever possible, most captains did and still do like to set a nice table. This included those of the piratical variety, where only the basest of louts wouldn’t take the opportunity to show off their plunder in the form of gilt chargers and silver flatware.
Established navies were almost duty bound to provide a decent table not only in the captain’s cabin but also in the wardroom, where the officers messed. This included linen, china, crystal and sterling – particularly when company called. Wooden trenchers were considered barbaric by the dawn of the Age of Exploration, no matter how much better they functioned in choppy conditions. Anxious stewards polished silver, kept china from cracking and bleached linen white in all conditions out of pure pride. The best literary example of this is probably O’Brian’s character Preserved Killick, steward to Jack Aubrey throughout the Aubrey/Maturin series.
If you or someone you love might have an interest in dressing their table in pure nautical style, you need look no further than The Pirate’s Lair. This enchanting website offers historical china, silver and linen from some of the world’s foremost navies, past and present. Not only are the navies of the U.S., Canada, France, Britain and Spain well represented, but pieces from many other navies are available too. To point out just a few you’ll find china from the Brazilian Navy, the Greek Navy and the Nigerian Navy.
The prices are not bargain basement by any means, but just one china or silver serving piece would make a nice addition to any table and certainly start a conversation or two. I’ve got my eye on the U.S. wardroom officer blue fouled anchor insignia large, deep pre-WWI serving bowl. Nothing says Christmas like a navy serving bowl. Anchors aweigh!
Header: Formal table setting featuring U.S. Navy china, silver and linen via The Pirate’s Lair