Unusual item, this strainer spoon or ladle made by Elkington for The Royal Mail Steam Packet Company is in very good condition bearing the manufacturer’s mark and RMSPCo Motif
Measures 16cm in length
The Royal Mail Steam Packet Company was a British shipping company founded in London in 1839 by a Scot, James MacQueen. The line’s motto was Per Mare Ubique (everywhere by sea). After a troubled start, it became the largest shipping group in the world in 1927 when it took over the White Star Line. The company was liquidated and its assets taken over by the newly formed Royal Mail Lines in 1932 after financial trouble and scandal; over the years RML declined to no more than the name of a service run by former rival Hamburg Süd.
History as Royal Mail Steam Packet Company
The RMSPC, founded in 1839 by James MacQueen, ran tours and mail to various destinations in the Caribbean and South America, and by 1927, was the largest shipping group in the world. MacQueen’s imperial visions for the RMSPC were clear; he hoped that new steamship communications between Britain and the Caribbean would mitigate post-Emancipation instabilities, in particular by promoting commerce. From the outset the company aimed to be the vanguard of British maritime supremacy and technology, as F. Harcourt suggests, the RMSPC presented itself “as existing not merely for the good of its shareholders but for the good of the nation”. The high hopes for the business were boosted by the government’s mail contract subsidy, worth £240,000 a year. The RMSPC evolved vastly from 1839 to the beginning of the 20th century. It introduced new technologies, such as John Elder’s marine compound steam engine in 1870, and worked to redefine seafaring by focusing on comfort and passenger requirements.
In January 1903 Owen Philipps was elected to the RMSP’s Court of Directors, and that March he was elected Chairman. Under Philipps, RMSP grew by acquiring controlling interests in multiple companies. Philipps was knighted in 1909 and ennobled as Baron Kylsant in 1923. However, poor economic circumstances and controversy surrounding a deception by Philipps meant that the RMSPC collapsed in 1930, after which various constituent companies were sold off. In 1932, its successor, the Royal Mail Lines (RML) was formed, continuing the memory and operations of the RMSPC.