Today’s view of the I. Roy Coats Brass Room is a glimpse into our maritime past from the First and Second World War eras. Artifacts displayed here such as polished brass name plates, builder’s plaques, photographs, navigation instruments, lanterns and posters were original furnishings on military vessels that were scrapped from the late 1940s to the 1980s.
The converted cargo and passenger ships of the early to mid-twentieth century represented here were conscripted by the U.S. Navy from their original purpose as cargo and passenger ships to serve alongside battleships, cruisers and destroyers in operations on the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In the late 1940s and 1950s, many of these ships were systematically destroyed when they could no longer function on the seas.
A collection of artifacts was saved by I. Roy Coats (1914-2011), a purchasing agent between 1946 and 1983 for a local metals scrapping form on Terminal Island. The firm was National Metal and Steel, Inc., formerly Boston Metal and Steel. Its president, Joseph Shapiro, and Mr. Coats endeavored to salvage significant artifacts or photographs which represented the technology superseded just after World War II. Coats personally preserved and took care of the objects that he mounted on display in the lunchroom at National Metal and Steel.
After the metals scrapping firm closed its doors, Roy Coats brought the display and mounted it to the four walls of the second floor meeting room of the Los Angeles Maritime Museum. In 2006, the Museum rededicated the Brass Room to Roy Coats, naming it in his honor.
Many of the photographs represented here are prints from the U.S. Bureau of ships in the National Archives, and bear a stamp on the reverse side of the print indicating the image number. Photographs taken by U.S. Navy photographers can be seen online at the Navy history site: go to http://www.history.navy.mil/our-collections/photography/special-collections.html and search for a specific ship.
Images of the ships are posted here for research purposes.