The Titanic Mystique: “Day of” Letter Wins Big at UK Auction

May 6, 2014 | By | 3 Comments

Even more than a century later, the Titanic disaster continues to float the boat for wealthy collectors … or at least their bank account.
A letter that survived the Titanic disaster was sold at auction in London on April 26, for an astonishing £119,000 (more than $200,000). According to Reuters, the price is the highest paid for correspondence from the doomed ship.

The message – from Titanic second-class passengers Esther Hart and her seven-year-old daughter Eva to Esther’s mother in Chadwell Heath, London – was dated “Sunday afternoon.” It is the only known letter to have been written the day Titanic struck an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic.
The letter’s distinctive date, the fact that it was written on Titanic stationery, and its provenance from survivor Eva Hart’s autobiography, “Shadow of the Titanic,” all added to the final price, which surpassed expectations by nearly $34,000.
Esther, too, survived the disaster. And according to a biographical account provided by Henry Aldridge & Son’s auction house, the letter was sold 102 years from the day Esther expected it to have been delivered back to England.
“Well, the sailors say we have had a wonderful passage up to now,” she wrote, eight hours before the ‘unsinkable’ ship met its doom.
“There has been no tempest, but God knows what it must be when there is one. This mighty expanse of water, no land in sight and the ship rolling from side to side is being wonderful. Tho they say this Ship does not roll on account of its size. Any how it rolls enough for me, I shall never forget it … This letter won’t leave the ship but will remain and come back to England where she is due again on the 26th.”
The survival of Hart’s letter hinged on a chivalrous gesture from her husband, who gave her his sheepskin coat to keep warm as she boarded a lifeboat. The letter was in a coat pocket. And though Esther and Eva made it to a lifeboat, he did not.
Upon arriving safely in New York, Eva Hart recounted in her biography that her mother’s first action was to send her parents in England a cable confirming that they had been rescued and had arrived safely in America, according to Reuters.
“The letter she had written that Sunday afternoon on the Titanic was never posted. She found it in the pocket of my father’s sheepskin lined coat after we had been rescued and for her it was to remain a constant reminder of that tragic journey and of the loss of her husband.”
Why do you think people are still so fascinated by the Titanic? Let us know in the comments.
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    3 Responses to “The Titanic Mystique: “Day of” Letter Wins Big at UK Auction”

    1. Brian
      May 6th, 2014 @ 6:09 pm

      May we see the contents of the whole letter? There’s something about a hymn in there. Looks fascinating.

    2. Anthony Nicholas
      May 6th, 2014 @ 7:20 pm

      It fascinates us because there are so many unanswered questions. And the only people who could have answered them went down with the ship. In their absence, we’re left with conjecture and speculation. The ship itself sank, but it’s voyage is endless, and always will be.

    3. Randall Toney
      May 7th, 2014 @ 1:14 am

      I really can’t say why, but I’m as fascinated as anyone.

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