DINNER PLATE – KAISER WILHELM II’s PERSONAL DINNER SERVICE ABOARD NAVAL VESSELS.
This is an interesting, very rare, dinner plate that Kaiser Wilhelm II used when he sailed with the German fleet. The plate is interesting because it is NOT named for the Kaiser’s flagships, the battleship S.M.S. Kaiser Wilhelm II or, later, the S.M.S. Deutschland. He also had table service for his royal yacht, the S.M.Y. Hohenzollern and his racing sloop, the S.M.Y. Iduna. Kaiser Wilhelm II was very intrigued by his navy and his role within it. Plans for the Imperial German Navy’s expansion were constantly brewing at the Navy Ministry between the Kaiser and his alter-ego, Admiral von Tirpitz.
As the German Empire’s Kaiser, Wilhelm was expected to live well, but he went FAR beyond that. Wilhelm lived in virtually the same style on his royal yacht, the S. M. Y. Hohenzollern, as he did at any of his palaces on land, INCLUDING the specially-designed dishware. The S. M. Y. Hohenzollern carried special plates, saucers, etc., exclusively for use on that vessel. So, a fifth set of tableware was created for his visits to other ships in the fleet so that he would have the same level of luxury aboard the other ships that he chanced to visit. For example, cruisers were dispatched to attend him on his regular visits to Norway’s fjords. Thus, if he entertained officers aboard their ship instead of the S.M.Y. Hohenzollern, he had the “correct” tableware to fete them.
The plate measures 10″ in diameter. Its edge is trimmed with four small gold bands, as well as one larger, and one medium-sized gold band. One additional gold band appears on the plate’s extreme edge. The magnificent plate is in near-mint condition. At its top, we see Kaiser Wilhelm’s crossed Großadmiral’s flags. The plate’s center features a multicolored Golden Kette of the Order of the Black Eagle. [The Order of the Black Eagle was a non military decoration family in which each male member of the House of Hohenzollern was invested. At the King of Prussia’s (later, the Kaiser’s) discretion, lower levels of the order could be awarded to worthy recipients]. The centerpiece is VERY striking, to say the least.
The plate’s reverse displays the KPM logo (the porcelain manufacturing firm that served all Prussian Kings and Kaisers from Frederick the Great to Wilhelm II) and various other marks.
This is one of our rarest examples of the Kaiser’s tableware.