A water-stained and unplayable historic instrument has been definitely identified as the violin the bandmaster played while the Titanic sank beneath the waters on April 14, 1912. The cracked violin will be auctioned later this year, reports the Mirror on Thursday, March 14, and it is expected to bring more than half a million dollars.
Originally, everyone thought the Titanic violin, now found, lay at the bottom of the Atlantic along with the rest of the band instruments – and the musicians who played them. After 100 years, not much would be left. But Wallace Hartley, the bandmaster and violinist, wrapped his precious violin in a leather case and strapped it to his body, as passengers rushed and screamed and battled over the insufficient lifeboats. Hartley drowned. His body was recovered ten days later.
The violin was not listed among the effects found, possibly because it was strapped to the body and not every possession was itemized. But scientists have spent months authenticating the artifact. Final proof is an engraved silver plate on the violin’s base: For Wallace on the occasion of our engagement. Maria.
Hartley’s effects were returned to his father, who passed them on to the equally grieving fiancée. Maria Robinson never married. Another proof was the telegram she sent Provincial Secretary of Nova Scotia in July, 1912. “I would be most grateful if you could convey my heartfelt thanks to all who have made possible the return of my late fiance’s violin.”
The violin will rest in Belfast until the auction. Perhaps, later, it will tour the world.