Auctions | March 29, 2012

RR Auction Holds Titanic Auction

AMHERST, NH—As we near the 100th Anniversary of the RMS Titanic’s ill-fated maiden voyage, RR Auction is proud to offer the public the opportunity to bid on a vast array of recovered relics and signed memorabilia relating to one of the grandest—and most infamous—vessels to ever succumb to the sea.  These surviving items convey the astonishing legacy of not only the ship that epitomized the very meaning of opulence, luxury, and stability in the early 20th century, but her passengers as well; the individuals whose names would forever became synonymous with the most devastating peacetime maritime disaster in history.  

100th Anniversary of the RMS Titanic’s ill-fated maiden voyage

Last known letter from Titanic’s British bandleader up auction

Wallace Hartley and his orchestra— “the band played on,” courageously going down with the ship

On its maiden voyage, leaving on Wednesday, April 10, 1912, the Titanic was the largest passenger ship ever assembled. The height of luxury and class, the vessel began its journey from Southampton, England, to New York. Although in compliance with the safety standards of the time, the Titanic did not possess enough lifeboats to accommodate everyone on board. When the large vessel struck an iceberg in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, one of the largest maritime disasters in history took place.

There are few accounts of selflessness in history more moving than that of Wallace Hartley and his Titanic band mates.  While the great liner slowly slipped beneath the waves in the dark hours of April 15, 1912, Hartley led his fellow musicians in what would become the last melodies many of the 1,517 casualties would hear and in so doing became one of the most famous heroes of that terrible tragedy.

A rare letter written by Hartley from the R. M. S. ‘Titanic’ will be featured in an upcoming The Titanic auction, from New Hampshire based RR Auction in April.

The two-page letter written on ‘Titanic’ letterhead, by Hartley is dated April 10, 1912.

In Hartley’s only letter home, the hopeful bandleader writes to his parents during his first day on the ill-fated ship. In part, he writes: “We have a fine band & the boys seem very nice— I shall probably arrive home on the Sunday morning.”

Just four days after penning this letter, Hartley and his crew would become heroes in their own right as “the band played on,” serenading the passengers as they assembled in the First Class Lounge, waiting to board lifeboats, and relocating when the passengers were ushered to the Boat Deck, assembling near the Grand Staircase. The men continued their orchestral vigil until the Titanic succumbed to the overwhelming force of the Atlantic, watching and playing as over 700 men, women, and children passed by them to safety.

Witnesses in lifeboats reported seeing Hartley and his band mates swept into the ocean and his last words to his band are reputed to have been “Gentlemen, I bid you farewell.”

“Hartley and his orchestra’s role during the Titanic’s final moments— is widely considered to be amongst the noblest acts of heroism at sea,” says Livingston.

“After the Titanic struck the iceberg the band began to play music to calm the passengers— a valiant effort to prevent the passengers from becoming panic-stricken,” says Livingston.

Hartley’s body was recovered several weeks later and more than 1,000 people attended his funeral with a further 40,000 lining the cortege route.

He is remembered with a statue in his hometown and has featured prominently in all of the film and television adaptations of the Titanic story, most recently portrayed by Jonathan Evans-Jones in James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster movie.

The Titanic auction will offer the public the opportunity to bid on a vast array of recovered relics and signed memorabilia relating to one of the grandest—and most infamous—vessels to ever succumb to the sea. This historic assemblage will be available for bidding starting April 19-26.

A preview is currently available, for details, go to

Among the other museum quality pieces to be featured:

·       The famed and beautifully detailed silk Kimono; worn by the UK fashion icon Lady Duff-Gordon as she was lowered to safety in a lifeboat has remained in tact over the last century.

·       An original fragment of the Titanic’s aft grand staircase; which was within frightening proximity of the exact location the ship broke in two.

·       An 18 karat gold collar stud: recovered from the body of first class passenger, Austin Partner, and returned to his family.

·       A nostalgic locket; recovered from the body of George Dunton Widener’s valet, Edward Herbert Keeping, within weeks of the tragedy, which has been displayed in Swedish museum for a number of years.

·       Rare pay slip from a surviving crewman; for his six days of service aboard the Titanic.