The violin claimed to have been played by the leader of the band on the Titanic was sold for a shocking 1.5 million dollars ( £900,000) in Wiltshire (UK.)
The violin allegedly belonged to Wallace Hartley, who died along with thousands of others when the ship infamously sunk in 1912.
The auctioneer, who sold the violin, had expressed that it was the “most iconic” memento that could have been retrieved from the ship. The violin was allegedly the one that was played during the last hours of the ship’s tragic accident to calm passengers and crew.
The violin was not the only keepsake from the Titanic that was up for grabs; other smaller memorabilia were available. Cutlery, old photographs, and newspapers were sold too, the price at which these were bought ranged from $15-$200.
The violin itself had quite a journey before reaching the auction room. Wallace Hartley, the owner of the violin, had made quite a name for himself as he became renowned for having lead his fellow band mates in continuing to play music as the ship was sinking. One of the hymns they are remembered to have played was “Nearer My God to Thee.”
Following the tragic event, the violin was found with the owners corpse in the water. The violin was sealed in its leather case, and Mr. Hartley was sadly found dead in a life jacket. Maria Robinson, who was engaged to William Hartley at the time, had written a diary entry stating that the violin was returned to her once it had been retrieved from the water.
After her death in 1939, the violin was known to have been in the possession of Ms. Robinsons’ local Salvation Army Citadel before landing in the possession of the current owner’s mother in the early 1940’s. The owner who bought the violin in was anonymous, and the only information on the buyer who bought it at the auction was that he was British.
Controversies regarding the authenticity of the violin have been ongoing for quite some time; the fact that the violin had survived this long was questionable. Many people refused to believe that the violin is in this good of condition after being in really cold water for that long.
However , forensics have been able to authenticate the violin, and even found salt deposits within the violin which undoubtedly must have come from the sea water it was once submerged in. After almost a decade, the violin was authenticated by Henry Aldridge & Son, the auction house at which it was sold.
The competition to be the highest bidder for the violin was quite high. The auction of this item had drawn many antique collectors and enthusiasts from all over the world. Its popularity was not unexpected, as it had previously drawn almost 320,000 viewers in the United States during a short-term exhibition.
The opening bid for the violin was a mere $80 before being valued in the hundred thousand range within only a few minutes.
Keepsakes from the Titanic are known for being auctioned off at exorbitant prices. The plan of the ship, which was used to help the captain and crew investigate further into the sinking and escape plan was sold in 2011 for $360,000 (£220,000.)