Titanic's sister ship Olympic had the same pineapple finials which can be found today at The White Swan Hotel, in Alnwick, England.
The Titanic Pineapple Finials
The Titanic's Pineapple Finials
The color photo above shows the labor-intensive details carved into the Titanic's Grand Staircase newel post finials, known as the "pineapple finials." Titanic's pineapple finials matched her nearly identical twin sister ship the RMS Olympic, as seen here in these photos. Some now decorate a staircase at the White Swan Hotel in Alnwick, England. The White Swan Hotel owner at the time, Algenon Smart, was a lucky bidder at auction in November 1935 when the Olympic was scrapped. In addition to elements of the aft first-class staircase, he purchased many other beautiful interior decorative elements and had them installed in his hotel.
The First-Class staircases on Titanic were identical to that of her sister ship Olympic. Much of the sister ships interiors were designed and fitted by the same teams of craftsmen and artisans, as the two ships were constructed at nearly the same time. The interiors of the ships were designed by Aldam, Heaton & Co., who had previously worked on other White Star Line vessels and had also carried out interior design on the homes of White Star Line chairman J. Bruce Ismay and his family. Many of the ships' interiors were designed by the architect Arthur Henry Durand, who had studied architecture in Brussels in the early 1890s, and was involved with the design of the La Tour Eiffel in Paris. He worked for both the White Star Line and the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company.
Actually these photos were all taken of the Olympic's staircase elements, since no known photos from the Titanic's Grand Staircase exist. It is believed that the Belfast ship builder, Harland and Wolff, saw no reason to photograph the Titanic's interiors since they had already gone through this expense for her virtual twin, the RMS Olympic.
A Symbol of Welcome
Pineapples have been used as a motif in decorative arts for centuries. In Colonial America, pineapples were highly prized and expensive. So much so, that they were even rented for use by a hostess of lesser means. She would display the fruit to impress her guests, and then return it to the vendor. More affluent patrons would purchase the fruit and actually serve it. Visitors confronted with pineapple-topped food displays in those days felt particularly honored by a hostess who obviously spared no expense to ensure her guests' dining pleasure. This is how the pineapple became synonomous with hospitality. By the Edwardian Age, which was the era of the great ships, the pineapple had become a familiar symbol of welcome, good cheer, and warmth.
A broken-scroll pediment with a pineapple in its center graces a doorway at the home of William Byrd in Westover, VA, circa 1730. Byrd ordered this carved door-surround from London. It is easy to see how the RMS Titanic's pineapple finials can be the descendants of decorations like this one.
These views of the first-class staircases found on both the Titanic and Olympic ships featured the same style of carved oak pineapple finials. It's easy to tell which staircase you are looking at if you note in the photo at right the smaller style clock and the wonderful cherub holding the torchiere aloft with his right arm are the aft staircase. On the forward Grand Staircase, he holds it up with his left hand, and of course the clock (above photo) dominates the wall of the landing and includes the magnificent Honour and Glory Crowning Time with all of its elaborate ornamental surround.
More views of staircases at The White Swan Hotel in Alnwick, England that began their life as a part of the Grand Staircase on Titanic's sister ship, the RMS Olympic. Along with the pineapple finials, bannisters, newel posts with carved fruits and vegetables, and the elaborate ironwork of the balustrades are preserved here. Some of the woodwork has been refinished in various colors throughout the hotel's years. The elaborate medalions of the ironwork balustrades would have been gleaming gilt on the Titanic and the Olympic ships.
Titanic enthusiast Benjamin Kreft of Munich, Germany stands outside the restaurant in this excellent sharply detailed view of the staircase at The White Swan Hotel in Alnwick, England. Some of these elements began their life as a part of the Grand Staircase on Titanic's sister ship, the RMS Olympic. Along with the pineapple finials, bannisters, newel posts with carved fruits and vegetables, and the elaborate ironwork of the balustrades are preserved here. Some of the woodwork has been refinished in various colors throughout the hotel's years. The elaborate medalions of the ironwork balustrades would have been gleaming gilt on the Titanic and the Olympic ships. The handrail on top of Olympic's handrail is a modern addition for safety code compliance. (Our sincere thanks to Mr. Kreft for this photo)