The Berengaria Exchange - 1929 Stock Market Crash


Front Cover and Spine, The Berengaria Exchange: The Lively Account of a Floating Stock Exchange During the Fateful Week of the 1929 Crash by Paul Knapp, 1972.

Front Cover and Spine, The Berengaria Exchange: The Lively Account of a Floating Stock Exchange During the Fateful Week of the 1929 Crash by Paul Knapp, 1972. Book Design by T. Clemens. GGA Image ID # 2049d1087c


From the Dustjacket Flaps

When the luxury liner Berengaria sailed from Southampton that week in October, she carried her usual complement of celebrities and millionaires. But the vessel also carried an extraordinary convenience for its passengers—a floating brokerage office where they could keep track of their stocks and buy and sell precisely as if they were on dry land.

Yet this particular trip aboard the Berengaria was to be like no other before or after it, for this was the week when the stock market plunged with the resounding crash that triggered the Great Depression and stripped many of the wealthy on board of everything.

Nostalgia for a vanished way of life mixes with a portrait of sheer panic as Paul Knapp deftly narrates the story of the Berengaria's fated homeward journey. Mr. Knapp also provides unforgettable portraits of many passengers, including the cosmetic queen Helena Rubinstein, who divided her time equally between the bridge and the brokerage office; Edgar Wallace, author of detective best sellers and occupant of the liner's Imperial Suite, who spent the journey toiling over his latest writing work; and Abraham Cahan, editor of the Jewish Daily Forward, who recorded observations of the trip in his diary.


Illustrations following page 90

  • Captain Rostron aboard the Carpathia (courtesy Mariners' Museum, Newport News, Virginia)
  • Helena Rubinstein took an ad in The New York Times
  • Helena Rubinstein and her son, Roy Titus (courtesy Roy Titus)
  • Edgar Wallace in the late 1920s (courtesy Bruce Anderson)
  • The desk of the stock market wireless circuit in the Tuckerton, New Jersey, station, 1929 (courtesy Ralph Stiles)
  • The Tuckerton station from the exterior
  • The Berengaria's decks during the voyage of the Crash (courtesy Dinty Moore)
  • Arthur Vernay (courtesy American Museum of Natural History)


Illustrations following page 158

  • Norrie Sellar and daughter Iris at Belmont in the late 1920s (courtesy Iris Sellar Veeder)
  • Iris Sellar's invitation card for her debut on the Berengaña (courtesy Iris Sellar Veeder )
  • Congressman George Holden Tinkham (courtesy George B. Cramer)
  • Sir Charles Arthur Mander (courtesy Sir Charles Marcus Mander)
  • Samuel Barlow
  • A view of the Berengaria's first-class dining room
  • The Berengaria's Palm Court
  • Berengaria passengers who wanted to get in some exercise could do so in the vessel's Pompeiian swimming pool
  • The huge fireplace in the Berengaria's smokeroom (all four views of the Berengaria courtesy Frank O. Braynard, South Street Seaport Museum, New York City)
  • Five tugs help the Berengaria to her berth on October 25, 1929
  • The Berengaria kept going during the Depression via its "booze cruises," like the Nova Scotia weekend advertised in Vanity Fair of July, 1932


Back Cover, The Berengaria Exchange: The Lively Account of a Floating Stock Exchange During the Fateful Week of the 1929 Crash by Paul Knapp, 1972.

Back Cover, The Berengaria Exchange: The Lively Account of a Floating Stock Exchange During the Fateful Week of the 1929 Crash by Paul Knapp, 1972. GGA Image ID # 204a14e0fc


From the Back Cover

"When the Smoke Room crowd enjoying pre-luncheon drinks heard someone say, 'The bottom's dropped out of the market,' they emptied the room en masse, some passengers actually running down a deck to the brokerage. A man was seen heading for the Promenade in a robe borrowed from the Turkish bath. Card games, letter writing, and lingering champagne breakfasts on deck ended abruptly.

By one o'clock, one observer remembers, nearly everybody among the more than five hundred in First Class was at the brokerage office... . Passengers jammed and overflowed into the Lounge at one end and into the Ladies Writing Salon at the other. The best they could do was to shout 'Tell me Steel,' or 'United,' or 'Eastman,' and hope an answer would be relayed back down the liner. At the two outside windows of the brokerage, on the Promenade Deck, the passenger swarm had grown to six or eight deep, though there was little to see inside but heads and shoulders pressed back to the glass....

"The Purser's Office ... was under something approximating a siege, and a noisy one at that: word of a crash in the stock market was spreading wild rumors through the ship, and causing particular anxiety in Second Class.

Forty or fifty passengers there demanded access to the First Class brokerage.... Claiming that everything they had in the world depended on the stock market, they insisted on seeing the facts for themselves. There was even a diplomatic complication. A passenger named Fouad Abdallah in Second Cabin was the brother of the Minister of Finance of the Egyptian government, and en route to a diplomatic post in Washington. He demanded passage through the gate in the interest of Cairo."

—The Berengaria Exchange


Some of the Characters on Board the Berengaria

  • Samuel Latham Mitchill Barlow (Composer)
  • Abraham Cahan (Socialist Editor and Author)
  • Mary (Molly) Van Rensselaer Cogswell (Girl Reporter)
  • Jay Cooke III (From the Main Line, and Friend of Herbert Hoover) and Nina Cooke
  • Anna Farwell (Mrs. Reginald) de Koven (Patroness of the Arts) and Valentine Rouge (Maid)
  • Count Carlo and Countess Dorothy Taylor di Frasso (La Dolce Vita Pioneers)
  • Margaret Dillingham (Lady from Honolulu) and Katsuyo Ouchi (Ka-San) (Maid)
  • John T. Dorrance (Canned Soup King)
  • Stuyvesant Leroy French (Bachelor Lawyer)
  • Charles H. Goudiss, Jr. (Floating Stockbroker)
  • Mimi Bacardi Grau (Cuban Sculptress and Rum Heiress)
  • Sydney L. And Edith Stotesbury Hutchinson (From the Main Line)
  • Sir Charles (Mayor of Wolverhampton) and Lady Monica Mander
  • Theodore (Disarming Internationalist) and Fannie Grainger Marburg
  • John J. McGarry (Judge)
  • Walter Stanley (Dinty) Moore (Floating Stockbroker)
  • James J. (Jay) and Dolly O'Brien (Café Socialites), Fred Clifton (Valet) and Katherine Scharetsberger (Maid)
  • Mary Pierce (Rich Adventuress)
  • Commodore Sir Arthur Henry Rostron (The Foggy Knight)
  • Helena Rubinstein (Cosmetician) and Jeanne Pilon (Maid)
  • Norrie Sellar (Dealer in Cotton and "Lord of Hewlett") and Stephen Cosham (Manservant)
  • Sir Richard (Prime Minister of Newfoundland) and Lady Helen Squires
  • George Holden Tinkham (Congressman Knight Errant)
  • Arthur Stannard (Collector of Rare Things) and Marion Kelley Vernay
  • Richard Horatio Edgar Wallace (Bestselling Author and Horserace Tipster) and Family
  • William Seward (Vanderbilt Heir and Dealer in Real Estate) and Gertrude Gaynor Webb
  • Sanders Wertheim (Park Avenue Coal King) and Family
  • "Skipper" Williams (Dean of Ship News Reporters)


Note: The action and dialogue in this book have been recreated from the best available memories of those involved.


Library of Congress Catalog Listing

  • Personal name: Knapp, Paul, 1931-
  • Main title: The Berengaria exchange.
  • Published/Created: New York, Dial Press, 1972.
  • Description: 239 p. illus. 22 cm.
  • LC classification: HG4575 .K53
  • LC Subjects: Berengaria (Steamship). Stock exchanges. Ocean travel. Depressions--1929.
  • Notes: Bibliography: p. 229-232.
  • LCCN: 71163595
  • Dewey class no.: 332.6/42
  • Type of material: Book


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