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Vintage Kungsholm Restaurant Show Plate

Vintage Kungsholm Restaurant Show Plate


The year was 1942 and the setting, the elegant Kungsholm restaurant, which occupied one of the former McCormick family mansions just off Chicago's famed "Magnificent Mile". Large Swedish and American flags flew outside the restaurant and a model Viking ship hung over the entrance. The interior was a vision of restrained Gustavian opulence with the restaurant on the left side of the grand foyer and on the right side, the elaborate Kungsholm Minature Opera Theater. 

The restaurant spared no expense in offering customers the most authentic, decadent Swedish smörgåsbord. The three distinct courses (herring and seafood; hot entrees such as Veal Oscar; fresh salads and cheeses) were all presented in the center of the dining room on a massively long grand piano that would have made Liberace weep. 

Following dinner, guests retired to the Kungsholm theater to be swept away in the most intricately staged, elaborately detailed miniature puppet opera. The theater itself was a scale model of the Royal Opera House in Stockholm complete with an orchestra pit, plush box seats, and a velvet curtain. The lights dimmed, the puppet musicians took their seats in the pit, the puppet conductor raised his baton, the curtain parted and behold, an incredible puppet production of Tosca or Aïda or Madame Butterfly or La Bohème would begin. 

The Kungsholm Restaurant and Miniature Opera Theater was the dream of Danish immigrant Frederick Chramer and he spared no expense in turning his dream into a reality.  Describing the production of La Bohème he wrote, "A personnel of fourteen people are required to perform the numerous understage and backstage operations including manipulating the stringless Puppets, operating the electric control board and the sound system, shifting scenery between acts, changing costumes, wigs, and make-up. The fourteen hundred Puppets who sing, dance, love, fight, and die in my Opera productions are operated from below the forty-eight square foot stage, by ten trained operators, who are music students and know each Opera note for note. An extensive wardrobe consisting of more than fifteen hundred Opera costumes is required, supplemented by hats, wigs, silk stockings, shirts, silk tights, aprons, boots, and shoes. Each costume is an exact copy (in miniature) of those worn by Metropolitan and La Scala Opera Artists."

Frederick's restaurant and opera theater became world-renowned and it was the place to be seen on weekend evenings in Chicago. His productions ran successfully until the late 1950s when mounting debt and failing health forced Mr. Chramer to sell his Kungsholm restaurant to the Fred Harvey Restaurant Chain in 1957.  Fred Harvey continued to operate the restaurant and stage the puppet operas, but without the vision and passion of Mr. Chramer, the quality of production declined and eventually Fred Harvey sold the Kungsholm in 1971, thus ending a dramatic chapter of both restaurant and theatrical magic.

From the one and only Kungsholm Restaurant in Chicago, we are very honored to offer this gorgeous Vintage Show Plate. Rich, regal and resplendent, the plate captures the spirit of Kungsholm.  The deepest inky cobalt blue glaze covers the plate with the Kungsholm regal Swedish crest in the center.  On the back of the plate is a description of the origin of Kungsholm.  A true treasure from Chicago's past, this magnificent show plate will certainly become the centerpiece in your collection.

Strictly one-of-a-kind and subject to prior sale. In excellent vintage condition. Circa 1950. 9 7/8".

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