Flagship cutlery

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American Airlines “Flagship” cutlery, depicting the front of a DC-3 aeroplane. 1930s. Silver-plated, made by International Silver Co. Designer unknown.

American Airlines, originally American Air Lines, was formed in 1934 and by 1936 had added the brand new Douglas DC-3, which it called “Flagships”, to its fleet. At a time when flying was a luxury enjoyed by the privileged few, airlines went to great lengths to promote their service. In the case of the AA Flagship service, this included specially designed cutlery for their in-flight meals.

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Close up of American Airlines DC-3 “Flagship” cutlery handle

The handle of each piece represented the nose and an engine of a stylised, but unmistakable, DC-3. In the earliest version this was moulded in relief, but in later versions it was more simply impressed. The word “Flagship”, in a speedy-looking Art Deco typeface, was positioned just behind the cockpit.

DC-3 aircraft on display in the Cold War Hangar, Cosford RAF Museum

Nose of DC-3 aircraft on display in the Cold War Hangar, Cosford RAF Museum

The designer of the cutlery is unknown. The three pieces (knife, fork and spoon) were smaller than normal tableware, presumably to keep weight down, but were silver-plated. The knife had a stainless steel blade. Cutlery in this pattern is of interest to collectors of transport memorabilia, as well as to cutlery collectors.

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