The Boston Cup
The Boston Cup, otherwise known as the Britannia Cup, is a unique and extremely rare piece of Cunard history. The Boston Cup currently resides aboard Cunard’s flagship Queen Mary 2, however it is a little known fact that the whereabouts of the Boston Cup was unknown for much of Cunard’s long history.
Upon the selection of their city as the American port for the new Cunard transatlantic service, the citizens of Boston rejoiced. They were delighted that their city would play host to the Cunarders; bringing essential commerce opportunities to the people of Boston. So great was the goodwill that Samuel Cunard earned celebrity status in and around Boston.
Britannia was the first Cunard ship to arrive in the American city and in preparation for her arrival the East Boston Company spent approximately $40,000 building a new dock for the steamers. Celebrations were organised for the arrival of Britannia (and Samuel Cunard) including an extravagant dinner party with over 2,000 guests.
To further celebrate the merchants of Boston commissioned the creation of a spectacular 2.5-foot-tall silver cup, which would be offered to Samuel Cunard as a gift of gratitude.
It was intended for the merchants to present this cup to Samuel Cunard upon arrival of Britannia in Boston Harbour, however the cup was not ready in time for the maiden arrival of Britannia in 1840 and as such is not mentioned in the newspaper reports of the celebratory party that was held to mark the occasion.
As a result the date when it was presented to Sir Samuel Cunard is not known. The cup was not documented in Cunard history and the whereabouts of the cup are unknown until 1967, when it was discovered in an antiques shop in Maryland, USA.
The magnificent cup was purchased by Cunard Line and placed aboard Franconia, when she made the first visit of a Cunard Ship to Boston since World War II. After sailing aboard Franconia, the cup was transferred to the then new Cunard flagship Queen Elizabeth 2 and given pride of place in the Columbia Restaurant.
During QE2’s 1994 refurbishment, the Boston Cup formed part of the Cunard Heritage Trail and was located in a glass cabinet near The Yacht Club. There it remained until 2004, when it was symbolically transferred to QM2, signifying the transfer of flagship status from QE2 to QM2.
The Boston Cup is located outside the Chartroom aboard QM2 and remains one of the most treasured of Cunard artifacts. The final historical note regarding the Boston Cup is that it originally had a lid. The whereabouts of the lid is still unknown!