Kaiser Wilhelm lived a life of luxury while he was Germany’s Emperor. He entertained lavishly and had many tableware patterns at his various palaces, hunting lodges, etc. Perhaps the rarest (since it had the fewest place settings) were the pieces that came from the Kaiser’s yacht, the S. M. Y. (Seiner Majestät Yacht) Hohenzollern. Today we are offering a dessert or salad plate from the royal yacht.
The S. M. Y. Hohenzollern was launched in 1892. From 1892 to 1914, she served as the Kaiser’s personal yacht. He enjoyed spending summers in Norway, and she sailed to Great Britain, the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, and the Mediterranean. [In fact, he loved his ship so much he spent four years out of that 24-year span aboard it]! The ship was 390 feet in length, and bristled with fifteen cannons and machine guns. She often was accompanied by one or more German warships. The S. M. Y. Hohenzollern had a crew of 295. Naturally, the Hohenzollern’s crew far outnumbered other similar-sized ships due to the large number of cabin stewards, servants, cooks, etc. required to “properly” attend to the Kaiser and his guests. Many of the officers who served aboard the S. M. Y. Hohenzollern, including the Kaiser’s son Adalbert, went on to have distinguished Kaiserliche Marine careers. Several became Admiräle or other top naval commanders after catching Wilhelm’s eye onboard the Hohenzollern and joining the fast track to more important commands.
Our offering today is a dessert or salad plate from the royal yacht’s table service. The plate, which measures 8 ½” in diameter, features two golden trim bands around its outer edges. Two very important sets of marks appear on the plate. At the very top is the Kaiser’s Standard (flag), which is NOT a naval-themed flag, but the Kaiser’s personal flag that announced his presence. [When the Kaiser reviewed army regiments in the field, a Regiment der Gardes du Corps NCO was in close attendance, brandishing the Kaiser’s Standard. If the Kaiser was in his limousine, the same Standard flew from the vehicle’s front. We offer one of the latter limousine flags in our inventory. When Wilhelm II abdicated his throne, he bestowed one of the limousine standards (and three other flags) upon a chauffeur. We offer one of the latter limousine flags in our inventory. When Wilhelm II abdicated his throne, he bestowed one of the limousine standards (and three other flags) upon a chauffeur. The flag group may be found by clicking here].
The letters “S. M. Y.” are written in gold directly below the Kaiser’s Standard depiction. A bandeau appears below the letters, with the word “Hohenzollern” written across it. Below that, a crowned Kette (Collar) of the Order of the Black Eagle appears in the plate’s center. [Every prince of the House of Hohenzollern was invested with this order. Certain other favored individuals also received the same Order, or other levels within it. The Order of the Black Eagle was purely a royal/noble order. It was NOT a military award]. The Kette’s center features the Kaiser’s royal cypher. The Kette and the Kaiser’s Standard stand out on the plate, giving it an amazing design that is quite different from the Kaiser’s tableware aboard his other fleet flagships (also available in our inventory).
The plate’s reverse displays the KPM hallmark. KPM was the sole firm providing all of Kaiser Wilhelm II’s tableware (as well as that for other House of Hohenzollern members). Beginning with Frederick the Great, every King, Königin, Kaiser, Kaiserin, Prince and Princess ordered their personal tableware from KPM. This distinguished firm (which survived WW I AND WW II) proudly served Prussia and Germany’s royalty and nobility. In addition to the correct KPM hallmark, we see that the plate was placed into service during 1899. KPM assigned placed-in-service dates to all of Wilhelm II’s items.
The plate’s overall condition is good with one exception. Viewing the Black Eagle centerpiece as one would a clock, at the 2 o’clock point you will note a small chip. The chip is NOT recent. It is a pity that it happened, but S. M. Y. Hohenzollern tableware is so rare that I purchased it anyway. I have had no more than two or three plates from the royal yacht ever offered to me. It remains an excellent piece for any collection. We have cut our pricing to the bone in order to compensate for the fault.