Titanic Centennial Salvage and Memories|
EVE M. KAHN 10/06/2011
Artifacts related to the Titanic are emerging on the market in droves in anticipation of next years centennial of that ships sinking.
On Oct. 21 Philip Weiss Auctions in Oceanside, N.Y., will offer the archive of a couple who spent the last days of their honeymoon on the ship. John Pillsbury Snyder, a Minnesota garage owner and grain-mill heir, and his new bride, Nelle, got into the first lifeboat when the crew sounded warnings. Other first-class passengers on the deck had milled around the Snyders, refusing to disembark, convinced that the Titanic just needed minor repairs.
The Snyders lifeboat left the wreck half-full; the saved lives onboard included a Pomeranian dog. The family papers, with correspondence on Titanic stationery and photos of rescue ships, are estimated to bring $30,000 to $50,000.
On Oct. 29 Henry Aldridge & Son will hold an auction near Bath, England, with photos ($3,000 to $5,000 each) of a teenage shipyard worker who died in 1910 after falling from the Titanic while it was under construction, and a London vicar who drowned with the ship. A deck plan ($50,000 to $80,000) in the Aldridge sale belonged to a maid, Ellen Bird, who worked for Ida and Isidor Straus, the Macys magnates.
Mrs. Straus gave Bird a fur coat for the lifeboat ride and then headed back to die with her husband. Bird at some point marked the deck plan with her favorite dining spot in a Jacobean hall.
On Dec. 1 Swann Auction Galleries in New York will offer Titanic lots including a deck plan of first-class suites ($12,000 to $18,000) and a fragment of a music box in the form of a pig ($1,500 to $2,500) that the fashion writer Edith Russell clung to during her rescue. Legend has it that the pigs tunes cheered up survivors on the lifeboat.
The market for ships of tragedy relics, however, can be treacherous. In May rust encrustations from the Titanic wreck site, expected to bring up to $6,000 each, were pulled from a Heritage Auctions sale. The salvaging company, RMS Titanic Inc., owns rights to submerged discoveries for research purposes.
We wont sell anything physically from the seabed, said Andrew A. Aldridge, an owner of Heritage, a British auction house.
But souvenirs that surfaced right after the iceberg collision, salvaged by ships like the Minia and the Montmagny, are fair game for auctions. Eric C. Caren, a historical documents dealer and collector in suburban New York, is selling thousands of lots through Swann in the next year, including Titanic relics. One item that I may give Swann is an actual piece of the ship picked up as floating wreckage by the Minia in April of 1912, he wrote in a recent e-mail.