Manufacturer: Bailey-Walker China
User: China Clipper
Date of grill plate: circa 1936 – 1942
Notes: The China Clipper restaurant was located at 46 – 49 Journal Square in Jersey City, New Jersey. It was partially owned and managed by Wah Sun (Watson) Choy, an American of Chinese descent. Choy was a well-liked entrepreneur in both New Jersey and New York City in the 1930's and was so enamored with Pan Am's flying boats that he named two of his of his three restaurants after the China Clipper. The other China Clipper was located at 3 Doyers Street in Manhattan. (His third restaurant was the Plaza Tea Garden, also in Jersey City, at 2928 Hudson Boulevard.)
In 1938, Choy was aboard the Hawaii Clipper (a sister aircraft) on a trip to Hong Kong when it mysteriously disappeared over the Pacific Ocean. It was rumored that he was carrying $3 million in gold certificates, which, as head of the Chinese War Relief Committee, he intended to donate to Chiang Kai-shek. In spite of a massive hunt by the U.S. Navy and Army, the plane was never found. One theory is that it was hijacked by two Japanese naval officers who stowed away in the baggage compartment while the aircraft was in Guam.
The China Clipper restaurant, for which this grill plate was made, had a distinctive curved window wall looking out into Journal Square as shown in the postcards above. When the restaurant opened is not known, but we do know that it was still in operation in the late 1950's.
White body grill plate with a burgundy pinstripe around the outer rim and a burgundy band on the inner rim near the top of the verge. In the three smaller sections at the top of the plate are burgundy floral drawings – the center one much more elaborate than the other two. The main section at the bottom contains a detailed engraved likeness of the China Clipper aircraft in a sky filled with clouds all in shades of burgundy and pink.
LostClipper.com – postcards, information, and photo of Wah Sun Choy
Grill plate photos, ID and research: Michael Rodman
Author: Ed Phillips