Let­ter writ­ten day Ti­tanic sank sells for $200,000

SundayXtra - - NEWS CANADA I WORLD - By Jill Law­less

LON­DON — A let­ter writ­ten by a pas­sen­ger on the Ti­tanic de­scrib­ing the “won­der­ful pas­sage” — hours be­fore the ship hit an ice­berg — sold at auc­tion Satur­day for 119,000 pounds ($200,000).

Auc­tion­eer Andrew Aldridge said the hand­writ­ten note, which had be­longed to a col­lec­tor, was bought by an anony­mous over­seas tele­phone bid­der dur­ing a sale in De­vizes, western Eng­land.

The price, which in­cludes a fee known as the buyer’s pre­mium, topped the pre-sale es­ti­mate of 100,000 pounds.

Aldridge said the price re­flected “the ex­cep­tional qual­ity and rar­ity” of the let­ter.

The let­ter was writ­ten by sec­ond-class pas­sen­ger Es­ther Hart on April 14, 1912. “The sailors say we have had a won­der­ful pas­sage up to now,” she said of the ship’s jour­ney from Eng­land to­ward New York.

Her seven-year-old daugh­ter Eva added a postscript: “Heaps of love and kisses to all from Eva.”

Hours later the pas­sen­ger liner de­scribed as “prac­ti­cally un­sink­able” hit an ice­berg and sank, killing more than 1,500 people in­clud­ing Hart’s hus­band, Ben­jamin.

The let­ter, on White Star Line notepa­per, was tucked in­side the pocket of a sheep­skin coat Ben­jamin Hart gave Es­ther as he put his wife and daugh­ter in a lifeboat. The fam­ily had been trav­el­ling from Eng­land to Canada, where they planned to set­tle.

Es­ther and Eva were res­cued, along with some 700 oth­ers.

Es­ther Hart died in 1928. Eva Hart, who died in 1996, be­came a prom­i­nent Ti­tanic sur­vivor, crit­i­cal of at­tempts to sal­vage the ship, which she con­sid­ered a mass grave.

Prices for Ti­tanic me­mora­bilia have soared in re­cent years. In Oc­to­ber, a vi­o­lin be­lieved to have been played as the doomed ves­sel sank sold for more than 1 mil­lion pounds.

Aldridge, whose auc­tion house spe­cial­izes in Ti­tanic items, said the con­tin­u­ing fas­ci­na­tion with the ship and its pas­sen­gers was no sur­prise.

“It was a mi­cro­cosm of so­ci­ety,” he said. “Ev­ery man, woman and child on that ship had a story to tell, so you have over 2,200 in­di­vid­ual sub­plots to the main story.

“The Ti­tanic en­cap­su­lates al­most ev­ery hu­man emo­tion we are able to ex­pe­ri­ence.”

— The As­so­ci­ated Press

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