RMS Caronia was launched on 30 October 1947, she was the first ‘Cunarder’ to be completed after the war. An important new departure for the company being designed not for the trans-Atlantic route, but for the warm weather cruising market, hence her unusual green painted hull which gave rise to her nickname ‘The Green Goddess.” The first design for this panel was by Allan, rather than Margaret Bennett. He originally designed a lighter depicting the bow of the ship on one side and the stern on the other as it sailed into the horizon. However, this was not approved by Dunhill and the present side view was used instead.Launched from Clydebank, by Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip.”I name this ship Caronia, may God bless her and all who sail in her” 4th January 1949 saw her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, arriving on the 11th January and met by a flotilla of ships firing water cannons. The globe trotting RMS Caronia, aka ‘The millionaire’s yacht’, Caronia was a favourite cruise ship and was legendary. Caronia had one of the largest funnels ever built on a ship until the advent of the SS United States.Dunhill ‘Aquarium’ ship Table lighter reverse cut panels of lucite depicting the RMS Caronia in very fine detail.
Ben Shillingford worked for Dunhill in the 1950’s, he perfected the art of carving and painting lucite panels to resemble miniature aquariums, these panels were then applied to the lighter bodies in four sections. Lucite was developed in world war II and used by the American and royal airforce as an alternative to glass which would not shatter when under fire. Following the war, the lucite that remained found its way into the workshops and studios of artists, designers and Jewellery makers.
It could be carved and painted, resulting in highly decorative shiny objet d’art. Each Dunhill Aquarium lighter is unique, having been hand made the decoration of each varies considerably. The unique skills required to carve and design the panels were limited to Ben Shillingford and his small team. Production ceased in the 1970’s and thus the limited number of lighters are highly sought and collected.
Spellbound by Dunhill Aquarium Lighters