The Titanic violin – one of the instruments playing the gloomy rendition of “Nearer My God to Thee” as the doomed ship sank – will be auctioned in April, in London. The heavily-tested relic should be fully authenticated by then, reports NDTV on Monday, Feb. 18, and the violin is expected to sell for hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Most people assume, quite naturally, that the violin sank to the bottom of the Atlantic on April 15, 1912, when the great ocean liner broke apart on its maiden voyage. But sources report that some bodies were recovered from the water, and the violin stayed with its owner. Wallace Hartley, the bandmaster and violinist, is said to have strapped the instrument to his chest – after carefully tucking it into a waterproof bag, of course – and it was retrieved from his dead body.
One hitch is that official salvage reports do not mention the violin as one of the effects of body #224. But other sources report that the bandmaster’s fiancé recovered it and took it away. The violin resurfaced seven years ago, and since then it has been tested extensively. And so far, it is passing all the tests.
The memorable scene in the movie “Titanic” when the band members got together and played, while passengers ran, screamed, and jockeyed for spots in the insufficient lifeboats was based on truth. There were actually eight band members, and they did play. Perhaps this violin was truly there.