Website of the Month: Peter Knego’s Midship Century Collection of Furniture and Art from the great cruise ships and liners of the past.

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Symbols Of Rome and the Ancients by one of 20th Century Italy’s most important ceramists salvaged from the MV VICTORIA – one of many of the Midship Century collection items recently sold.

Cruising The Past presents our choice for website of the month: Peter Knego’s Midship Century. His website offers a vast array of fixtures and furnishings from the great cruise ships and liners of the past.  Midship Century is a designers delight for discovering terrific pieces of the best in mid-century furniture and art.

The RMS WINDSOR CASTLE sailing into Capetown – 1960s.

Available stateroom phone from Union Castle’s RMS WINDSOR CASTLE – 1960s.  Similar to the Art Deco phones designed for Cunard Line’s QUEEN MARY and QUEEN ELIZABETH.  One of the many items available from Midship Century. (all photos courtesy the Peter Knego collection)

Midship Century was founded in 2005 by ocean liner historian and journalist Peter Knego as a logical outlet for the container loads of materials he salvaged from a long procession of celebrated vessels scrapped on the beach of Alang, India in recent years. Many, such as Sun Line’s STELLA SOLARIS, were fitted out with important designer furniture and valuable artwork, while others, such as the former Cunard Liner IVERNIA, were unchanged relics filled with mid-1950s and early 1960s fixtures and furnishings.

Their replacements, today’s mega cruise ships, offer a myriad of amenities to make the passenger forget he or she is even at sea. But unlike ocean liners, these boxy monoliths are fitted out like modern hotels with store-bought furnishings and fire resistant materials. The era of the individual ship representing the best of its nation’s artisans and craftsmen ended in the mid 1960s (although there were a handful of exceptions like the STELLA SOLARIS in the early 1970s).

Peter Knego on QUEEN MARY, photo by Martin Cox (c) 2005.

Seizing the one-time-only opportunity to save these items from obscurity or destruction, Knego not only bought items for his collection, but to share with those with a similar love for ocean liners or a penchant for the sleek stylings of the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s. Rich, rare, tropical hardwood veneers, heavy nickel plated fixtures, a serving of “high style Italian chic” from Gio Ponti’s collaborators, and much more! Now that no less than four containers’ full have been sorted and documented, it is time to make these treasures available to the world.

Click here to visit Peter Knego’s great website: Midship Century.

A couple of highlights from the extensive online catalog of furnishings and memorabilia available from Peter Knego’s Midship Century Collection.

The STELLA SOLARIS Lounge in its original colors. Peter Knego collection.

Available Lounge Chairs from the Midship Century collection designed for the STELLA SOLARIS By Nino Zoncada (Collaborator of Gio Ponti), Manufactured By Cassina In 1971.

A close-up of one of these fabulous chairs available from Midship Century.

Peter Knego’s new video on the background of finding slavaged furnishings, art, etc., from the great liners of the world that have been scrapped on the shores of India.

The latest one hour video production from Peter Knego, ON THE ROAD TO ALANG, takes you to India where so many vintage passenger ships have recently met their end. Remarkable and devastating footage shot in February of 2004 depicts key ships (including the former STELLA SOLARIS, EMPRESS OF CANADA/MARDI GRAS, TRANSVAAL CASTLE/FESTIVALE, ARGENTINA/ENCHANTED ISLE, IVERNIA/FRANCONIA, SYLVANIA/ALBATROS, and SHOTA RUSTAVELI) on the “Beach of Doom.”

This will be the first time Knego takes you aboard the ships he documented, from the abandoned SALONA (ex IVERNIA/FRANCONIA/FEDOR SHALYAPIN) at twilight; the APOLLO (ex EMPRESS OF CANADA/MARDI GRAS/APOLLON) at mid morning as she is being hammered apart; the STELLA OCEANIS in her prime and later laid up; and the STELLA SOLARIS with all her original Italian art intact as she looked just prior to being retired and sold for scrap.

One of the great art pieces (behind the furniture) salvaged from a liner on sale in India – as seen in Knego’s video.   From the Stella Solaris dining room.

Unlike other videos about modern shipbreaking, this project focuses strictly on the passenger ships, their contents, and history.

This unique volume also ventures into the traders’ yards where fittings from the ships are sold and shows the delivery of two containers’ worth of these treasures to Knego’s home in California.

A sad “Molten Memorium” wraps this video up, tallying most of the important ships to have been broken up at Alang in the past decade, showing them in various stages of their life and including startling photos taken during their demise. Here is a written exposition of the video’s contents and a rare, detailed look at an important aspect of passenger ship history.

Click here to order this video.

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About Michael L. Grace

During the mid-80s, Michael Grace worked as a writer on the TV Hit Series THE LOVE BOAT. He wrote many of the two hour special featuring great stars of the past, including Lana Turner, Claire Trevor, Anne Baxter, Ethel Merman, Alexis Smith, etc. The public’s access to these stars, in familiar dramas and comedies, made them want to go on a cruise. They could see the stars in an ordinary world as “regular” people. The phenomenally successful series was responsible for creating the cruise industry as we know it today. By the time he was writing for Love Boat, the great steamship companies and their liners were flying hand me down foreign flags, painted like old whores, scrapped or doing three day cruises to the Bahamas. He had sailed on over thirty ships and liners with his parents, aunt and grandmother in late 50s to early 70s. The very successful CRUISING THE PAST website has been an outgrowth of Michael’s strong interest in cruise and social history. Drawing on his own knowledge and a vast maritime and social history collection, he is able to produce a very successful website. Michael is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. He has written for television and films. Read more by going to "About" (on the above dashboard) and clicking "Editor"…