Titanic's Watery Grave
LiveAuctionTalk.com: by Rosemary McKittrick
Photo courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries.
All aboard. Many people predicted the sinking of Titanic. New York lawyer Isaac Frauenthal was one of them. He had his first dream right before boarding the ship.
“It seemed to me that I was on a big steamship that suddenly crashed into something and began to go down,” he said.
He had the dream one more time onboard Titanic. When he woke up to the warning of the iceberg collision he needed little encouragement to rush to a lifeboat and safety.
In a delirious state a young girl named Jessie in Scotland lay dying and described in detail the sinking of Titanic just hours before in happened. She saw people drowning and “someone called Wally…playing a fiddle.” A few hours later the Titanic sank as Wally Hartley and the rest of the band played their final song.
Other people had strong premonitions of the disaster and refused to board Titanic. John Pierpont Morgan was one of the 55 cancelling passengers. He owned the White Star Line and hence the Titanic.
Pittsburgh steel magnate Henry Frick and railroad owner George Vanderbilt also decided not to sail at the last moment.
On the morning of April 10, 1914, 1,316 passengers and 890 crew members did board Titanic for its maiden voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to New York City. Some of the richest people in the world paid thousands and planned for months to be on this voyage.
It took three years to build Titanic at a cost of $7.5 million. The ship was the world’s largest ocean liner at 882 feet, 9 inches long. It was built for luxury and comfort not speed. It had a saltwater swimming pool, a library, a squash court, a gym, a Turkish bath and three elevators. People followed the newspaper stories about the ship’s construction for months.
With their pink curtains, pillows, and lace quilts first-class staterooms were as elegant as any hotel. Walls were hand-carved oak. Mirrors were trimmed in gold and each stateroom had electric lights and heat. Most of the top four decks were reserved for first-class passengers only.
April 14, 1912, was a clear, cold night aboard Titanic. Because it was so clear the crew figured it would be easy to spot potential icebergs. They were wrong. Lookout Fredrick Fleet spotted an iceberg at about 11:40 p.m. But it was already too late to avoid a collision.
Titanic struck the iceberg on the starboard side of its hull. At first, the damage appeared slight. Below the waterline was the real problem. The iceberg punched a series of gashes along 250 feet of the hull.
As Titanic sunk into the sea the stern rose up into the air causing a tidal wave of passengers to fall off the ship. The U.S. Senate report said 706 people were saved.
“Not until the last five minutes did the awful realization come that the end was at hand,” said survivor Robert Daniel. The lights became dim and went out.”
On Dec.1, Swann Auction Galleries, New York, featured a selection of Titanic items in its Printed & Manuscript Americana/Ocean Liner Memorabilia auction.
Here are some current values.
Musical Toy Pig; rubber fragment; carried by survivor Edith Russell as she left sinking ship; $960.
Demi-cup and Saucer; Wisteria pattern by Stonier; 1912; $1,320.
Card Case; leather with silver overlay; carried by survivor Edwina Troutt MacKenzie as she left sinking ship; $1,680.
Bronze Medallion; presented to captain and crew of the rescuing ship Carpathia by survivors of Titanic; $4,080.
Custom Card; issued to Titanic passenger onboard the Carpathia after being rescued; $6,240.
Deck Plan; for first-class accommodations aboard Titanic; 30 inches by 40 inches; 1911; $7,200.
Rosemary McKittrick is a storyteller. For 26 years she has brought the world of collecting to life in her column. Her LiveAuctionTalk.com website is a mother lode of information about art, antiques and collectibles. Rosemary received her education in the trenches working as a professional appraiser.