Kaiser Wilhelm II was an avid sailor. He had a special place in his heart for his Navy AND his personal yachts. Today we are offering a very rare dinner plate from his racing sloop, the S. M. Y. Iduna. He raced it with the Kaiserlicher Yacht Club (KYC). The latter had its origins in a yacht club originally founded in 1887 for Kiel’s naval officers. It was known as the Marine-Regatta-Verein, and its original patron was Prinz Heinrich of Prussia, Wilhelm II’s younger brother. Heinrich was a serving officer in the Kaiserliche Marine and a yachting enthusiast. [He later rose to the rank of Großadmiral and commanded the German naval forces based in Kiel against the Russians].
In 1891, the club was opened to civilians as well as naval officers. Industrialist and arms manufacturer Alfred Krupp, along with other well-known Germans, joined the group. They asked Kaiser Wilhelm II to become the patron and renamed it the Kaiserlicher Yacht Club. [Naval officers revived the Marine-Regatta-Verein in 1928, and it continued to exist into WW II. It was disbanded by the Allies after the war, then re-founded in 1972 as the Marine-Regatta-Verein im Deutschen Marinebund e.V., and continues to this day].
Today we are offering a fantastic dinner plate that was part of the Kaiser’s personal table service when aboard the S. M. Y. Iduna. [PLEASE NOTE: Wilhelm II’s wife, Kaiserin Augusta Viktoria, had her own tableware for the S. M. Y. Iduna. We are fortunate enough to hold a singe example of it. Also, Johannes von Karpf served as commander of both the S. M. Y. Iduna and the S. M. Y. Hohenzollern. He rose to the rank of Admiral in the Kaiserliche Marine]. This magnificent plate measures 10″ in diameter. It has two different styles of gold trim bands around its edges. Its centerpiece is an Order of the Black Eagle Kette, whose center features the motto “Suum Cuique.” The latter also appeared on the headdresses of Gardekorps Garde units, including Infanterie, Kavallerie, Artillerie, etc.
The Kaiserlicher Yacht Club’s burgee (pennant) appears at the plate’s top. Below the burgee the K. Y. C.’s initials appear in gold above a blue bandeau displaying the name “Iduna” in gold. The plate’s reverse displays KPM of Berlin’s proper hallmarks. This notable firm, which still exists today, was the House of Hohenzollern’s official purveyor for all its royalty. We also see “1907,” the year that the plate was manufactured and entered into service aboard the S. M. Y. Iduna.
The plate comes from what may be the rarest tableware setting that Kaiser Wilhelm II owned. His naval tableware is much rarer than that featured at his various palaces, primarily because the ships’ smaller dining rooms accommodated far fewer guests. Since it was a racing sloop, the S. M. Y. Iduna was by far the smallest of all the Kaiser’s vessels, rendering any surviving examples of its tableware quite rare. The inclusion of the Kaiserlicher Yacht Club’s burgee makes this a very desirable piece. It is a pleasure to be able to share it with you today.