Titanic Violin, Played By Wallace Hartley As Ship Went Down, Worth $350K At Auction

By iScienceTimes Staff on February 18, 2013 2:03 PM EST

Titanic violin on sale
The Titanic before it set sail from England (Photo: Creative Commons)

A "titanic" violin is about to be auctioned off on April 20 if experts can confirm it was played by musician Wallace Hartley as the Titanic slowly sank into the icy Atlantic waters more than 100 years ago.

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The Titanic violin is expected to sell for more than $340,000, the record-breaking amount paid for another piece of Titanic memorabilia in 2011. The historic Titanic violin would be a one of-a-kind collectible, made famous by the story of Hartley and fellow musicians refusing to abandon ship and playing music until the Titanic went down. It is expected to be auctioned on April 20 by Titanic experts Henry Aldridge and Son based in Devizes, Wiltshire.

"We are talking about high six figures. There will be worldwide interest. All the tests have proved its authenticity so far. There is just one final test left and the results are due in early March. If that confirms the authenticity then it will be sold," a source close to the auction told the Daily Mail.

The Titanic violin had been a source of speculation for many scholars because of documentation that reported the Titanic violin was recovered alongside Hartley's body. According to the anonymous seller, Hartley's heartbroken fiancé Maria Robinson requested the Titanic violin as a memento before his body was buried. Among the supporting evidence that she retrieved after his death is a 1912 diary where she had apparently drafted a letter to the authorities in Nova Scotia thanking them for sending the Titanic violin to her.

The draft letter in her diary reads:

"I would be most grateful if you could convey my heartfelt thanks to all who have made possible the return of my late fiance's violin. May I take this opportunity to express my appreciation to you personally for your gracious intervention on my behalf."

British author Steve Turner wrote about the Titanic violin in his book "The Band That Played On," and he told the Daily Mail that Hartley saved the violin because it was a gift celebrating his engagement to Robinson.

"The most convincing thing about the [Titanic] violin, which was in a brown leather case with the initials W. H. H stamped on it, was the inscription on the tail-piece. It said: 'For Wallace on the occasion of our engagement from Maria,'" he said. "This seemed not only to explain why she wanted it back so badly, and why it didn't automatically go to Hartley's parents, but perhaps why Hartley kept it with him in the water."

Here's James Cameron's take on how Hartley and his fellow musicians handled the situation.

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