A Titanic violin sold for more that than four times its stated value, proving that collectors of items from the iconic Titanic have not diminished their love of the doomed 1912 passenger liner and the stories behind her. The violin sold for 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) to an anonymous buyer Saturday at auction, reports The Associated Press via ABC News today.
The violin is thought to have been played on the Titanic before the ship sank on April 15, 1912. Titanic enthusiasts were delighted to see that the now unplayable instrument belonged to bandmaster Wallace Hartley, whose name was still visible on the century old instrument.
“The story of Hartley's band, which stoically continued playing on the ship's deck until the disaster's final hour, is a memorable part of James Cameron's ‘Titanic,’ when Hartley and his colleagues are seen playing ‘Nearer, My God, To Thee’ as the passengers around them scream and drown in the icy water,” says the AP report.
“It's a world record for a Titanic artifact,” said Peter Boyd-Smith, a Titanic memorabilia collector at the auction. “The only other items that are probably worth that kind of money are the items salvaged from RMS Titanic if they are ever put up for sale, and those are in the exhibitions that go around America and Europe. It may never get beaten.”
The story of Hartley and his seven-member band came from first person accounts of survivors. Hartley's body was recovered by the ship Mackay–Bennett almost two weeks after the sinking. According to several press reports at the time, Hartley was found fully dressed with his music case strapped to his body.
The violin was recovered in one of the multiple shipwreck explorations and it was paired with the original case, found on Hartley’s body.
The auction was hosted by Henry Aldridge and Son in the western England town of Devizes.
The violin, of German make, was a gift from Hartley's fiancée Maria Robinson. On the violin's tailpiece were engraved the words: “For Wallace on the occasion of our engagement from Maria.”