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Gavel, Ship Launching, SS Prosperous, Howrah, Kolkata, India, Antique, 1918


S.S. Prosperous Souvenir Mallet or Gavel
Howrah, India: 1918
Carved wood with engraved silver plates
12.5 x 5.25 x 2.5 inches

Carved wood mallet or gavel commemorating the launching of the S.S. Prosperous, which was built by Messrs. Burn & Company of Howrah, India, for businessman Sonaton Nityanundo Roy of Chittagong, and launched on October 24, 1918. The handle is stained a golden color, while the head is dark brown. On either side of the wide side of the head are engraved shaped silver medallions. One has a line engraving of the ship in profile on the ocean and the caption “S.S. ‘Prosperous’ 1918.” The engraved inscription on the other plate bears the launch date and the names of the ship maker (Burn & Company), the owner of the ship (Sonaton Nityanundo Roy), and the “Sponsor. Mrs. H.R. Stark.”

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A notice published in a 1919 trade journal describes the ship:

Shipbuilding in Calcutta. — The S.S. Prosperous built by Messrs. Burn & Company for Mr. S.N. Roy of Chittagong has been successfully launched from Howrah She is 153 ft. long and 24 ft. in depth. There is accommodation for 12 first class and 300 deck passengers and the carrying capacity is about 500 tons. This is the first vessel built in India under rules and takes the highest classification as a seagoing ship. Every part of the vessel has been manufactured from imported raw materials, mostly American. She will run from Calcutta to Colombo and back touching at Akyab on the way.

At the time the S.S. Prosperous was launched, present-day India and surrounding countries were under British colonial rule. Chittagong is the second-largest city in Bangladesh, and was then and now its main port city and a financial center. It was a major center of trade with British Burma and hosted many prominent companies of the British Empire. Howrah, where the ship was built, is a city within the Indian state of West Bengal, across the Hooghly River from Kolkata (then known as Calcutta).

Engraved inscription on silver plate: “S.S. Prosperous, Built by Messrs. Burn Co. Ltd, ‘Howrah’. Sponsored Mrs. H. R. Stark. Owner Sonaton Nityanundo Roy Esq, 24 Oct. 1918.”

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall wear and handling. A few minor round indented marks on one hammer end where apparently used to hammer something.


“Chittagong.” Wikipedia. 15 September 2020. (24 September 2020).

“Shipbuilding in Calcutta.” Indian Industries and Power, Vol. 16. November 2018. p. 113. Online at Google Books: (24 September 2020).

Additional information


20th Century