Auction house says it has violin from Titanic
LONDON - The violin played by the bandmaster of the Titanic as the oceanliner sank has been unearthed, a British auction house said Friday.
Survivors of the Titanic have said they remember the band, led by Wallace Hartley, playing on deck even as passengers boarded lifeboats after the ship hit an iceberg.
Hartley's violin was believed lost in the 1912 disaster, but auctioneers Henry Aldridge & Son say an instrument unearthed in 2006 and has undergone rigorous testing and proven to be Hartley's.
"It's been a long haul," said auctioneer Andrew Aldridge, explaining the find had initially seemed "too good to be true."
The auction house spent the past seven years and thousands of pounds determining the water-stained violin's origins, consulting numerous experts including government forensic scientists and Oxford University.
The auction house said the rose wood instrument has two long cracks on its body, but is "incredibly well-preserved" despite its age and exposure to the sea. It estimated the violin is worth six figures.
Hartley was one of the 1,517 people who perished when the Titanic struck an iceberg 350 miles (565 kilometers) south of Newfoundland on April 15, 1912.
Some reports at the time suggested Hartley's corpse was found fully dressed with his instrument strapped to his body, though there was also speculation the violin floated off and was lost at sea.
Henry Aldridge and Son said it researched the violin's story with a Hartley biographer as the instrument underwent forensic testing, uncovering documents that showed Hartley was found with a large leather valise strapped to him and the violin inside.
The violin apparently was returned to Hartley's grieving fiancée, the auction house said, and later ended up in the hands of the Salvation Army before being given to a violin teacher and ultimately Henry Aldridge & Son.
Testing by the U.K. Forensic Science Service showed corrosion deposits were considered "compatible with immersion in sea water," while a silver expert studied a plate on the violin's neck to determine if it fit the time profile.
Henry Aldridge & Son said the violin will go on public display at the end of the month at Belfast City Hall, less than a mile from where Titanic was built.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Armstrong escapee caught; murder charges pending
- Man attempts to take firearm onto plane in Pittsburgh; tenth attempt this year
- Penn Hills grandmother to stand trial for fatally stabbing man with kitchen knife
- Heyl: Longtime disc jockey Jimmy Roach to turn dismissal into brighter times
- Pirates bolster bullpen by trading for former closer Soria
- McKeesport tattoo artist will stand trial for allegedly beating man to death
- Judge rules McCullough guilty of taking money from elderly woman’s estate
- Steelers’ reserve quarterbacks vie to secure spot behind Roethlisberger, Gradkowski
- Steelers stress improved conditioning in attempt to play past injuries
- Pirates’ Burnett endures another poor start in blowout loss to Reds
- SWAT standoff on Pittsburgh’s North Side ends peacefully