When the SS Normandie entered service in 1935, it was the
largest and fastest passenger ship afloat. Within a decade, the French
vessel had been commandeered by the United States to serve in war, but
The Normandie was built in Saint-Nazaire for the Compagnie
Générale Transatlantique, and entered service in 1935. The ship’s
lavish interiors were filled with art-deco designs and the ship earned
the Blue Riband (an unofficial award for Atlantic Ocean passenger
liners for the highest speed) several times.
The vessel sought haven at New York City as war loomed in Europe in
1939 and was interned by the U.S. government after Germany invaded
Poland. The U.S. government seized it after the bombing of Pearl
Harbor. Redesignated the SS Normandie, the ship was being
converted into the USS Lafayette, a troop carrier. However, it
caught fire and sank into the Hudson River. Initially salvaged,
restoration proved to be too costly and the ship was scrapped in 1946.
A bronze medal by Jean Vernon marking the launch of the ship sold in
the A.H. Baldwin
& Sons Ltd. Feb. 7 Spring Argentum sale.
The obverse of the medal features a sea-goddess, arms held above
her, as she frees a sea-horse. The reverse provides a port-side (left)
view of the liner under steam.
The medal measures 68 millimeters in diameter and is in Mint State condition.
It realized £180 ($275 U.S.) including the 20 percent buyer’s fee.
To learn more about the auction, visit the firm’s website.
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