On the Water

Salad Fork, SS United States

Used by passengers traveling aboard the ocean liner SS United States, this silverplate salad fork was manufactured for the United States Lines by the International Silver Co., a Connecticut company formed in 1898. The Manhattan pattern features a detailed fan design on the handle, a popular pattern in the early 1950s, which is also when the United States began its transatlantic service. The phrase “U.S. Lines 52” is engraved on the back of the handle.

A survey of SS United States menus from the 1950s reveals a limited range of salads, many of them familiar standards such as heart of lettuce, sliced tomato, cole slaw, beet salad, and chef’s salad. A few offerings—chicory, watercress, or Belgian endive—may have seemed exotic to American travelers of the 1950s. The dressings available for most salads included the familiar French, Thousand Island, Lemon, and Garlic, with an occasional “California,” Roquefort, or simply “Special,” on the side.

The SS United States was the largest and fastest passenger liner ever built in the United States. Launched in 1952, it was billed as the most modern and luxurious ship in service on the North Atlantic. The ship had 695 staterooms located on eight of the liner’s 12 decks. It could accommodate 1,972 passengers in first, cabin, or tourist class. Three separate dining rooms served passengers traveling in each class. Some 1,011 crew were required to run the ship and serve the passengers.

ID Number:
International Silver Company
6 5/8 in x 1 in; 16.8275 cm x 2.54 cm
Transfer from US Department of Commerce, Maritime Administration (through R. J. Blackwell)

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