Online Display Of Titanic Related Items From Private Collection
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UNSEEN UNUSUAL UNEQUALLED ARTI FACTS & OTHER ACQUISITIONS
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Exactly one week after the Titanic tragedy, cable ship (C.S.) Minia departed from Halifax for body recovery. After 4 days, on Friday 26 April 1912, thus 11 days since the disaster, she arrived at the scene as 2nd of in total 4 ships sent out for recovery. During a week of searching, Minia found only 17 human bodies. Furthermore, the ship recovered an array of floating wreckage from the debris field. William J. Parker, carpenter on Minia, transformed much of the wreck wood into ornate utilitary objects, such as boxes, tables, cabinets, chess boards, picture frames (one larger picture frame was gifted by Parker to Minia's first officer James Adams).
Traditionally it is believed that all or most of the salvaged hand carved wood originate (predominantly) from the First Class "aft" Grand Staircase, stretching from A- down to C-deck and located between the 3rd and 4th funnel. However, the area where the ship broke apart during the sinking was just before the 3rd funnel. This is a more recent insight, following the deep sea explorations; prior to that it was believed that the breaking occured between the 3rd and 4th funnel. So, in my view the wood debris could possibly just as well have originated from some other location(s) than the staircase. (There was also an almost identical looking First Class "fore" Grand Staircase, stretching even much further down to F-deck.)
Over time, many of the aforementioned crafted utilitary objects have been sold through auction and/or have ended up in museums. At one point, a number of rectangular carved wood sections measuring some 7.5 to 10 cm (3 to 4 inch) were auctioned by several internationally leading auctioneers. This particular specimen from my collection is such piece, however not really rectangular shaped as the others but seemingly a diagonally split leftover. (Who knows, perhaps this splitting was actually caused during the sinking!) The wood type should be either English or White oak. When looking very closely, the sandpaper's scratches from the finishing (smoothening) still show very distinctly. These hand carved wood pieces all display the same pattern of leaves and berries, and according to the auctioneers' descriptions these were part of the "aft" Grand Staircase's (and balustrade's) handrail moulding.
However, both color, design, texture and thickness clearly differ from the famous photo frame that was fashioned from Grand Staircase wood by William Parker. As such, and as suggested before, these rectangular wood pieces then should originate from another area of the ship, likely closeby the "aft" Grand Staircase. (No photos of Titanic's "aft" and "fore" Grand Staircase are known to exist and as such any comparison with surviving artifacts is impossible.) This wood piece and all others were accompanied by a large quantity of color photo prints, historical document prints, and two letters of which one co-signed by Steve Santini of Titanic Concepts when purchasing the photo frame and other wooden objects from James Adams' grandson mister Gerald T. Mullin on 31 July 1998. ☆
Up until this day, a total of 19 envelopes handstamped "Titanic" and all postmarked in March 1912 are known to exist. Mail cargo pieces processed in April however were all lost in the sinking: roughly 7 million cards, letters and packages. In August 2015 this was the 16th and latest known envelope marked "Titanic" and, still today, the single one known not addressed to "M.A. Winter Company" in Washington DC. Furthermore it is the only one known sent from Denmark (to Cape Nome, Alaska) and with this "Titanic" straightline handstamp in "roman serif" font style. Possibly this even is the only surviving Danish sent "Titanic" cover, respectively with this specific straightline handstamp. Truly a spectacular historical artifact. An incredible significant oddball find. Outright philately bliss. Sheer awesome. Ecstatic.
This is about a very extraordinary, almost completely unknown episode in the history of Titanic. Initially the maiden voyage was scheduled for 20 March instead of 10 April, 1912. This delay of exactly 3 weeks was due to an incident with Titanic's sister ship Olympic. On 20 September 1911, starting her 5th voyage, closeby Isle of Wight (UK), Olympic collided with Royal Navy ship Hawke. Olympic suffered 2 large holes at the rear's starboard side, but was able to return to Southampton. Hawke however was damaged extensively: her bow was squashed completely. In the aftermath Olympic, captained by E.J. Smith (!), was blamed for a bad steering maneuver, and White Star Line suffered huge costs and claims. Financially it became much worse, as Olympic was taken out of service many weeks for repairs. For speeding up and getting Olympic back in service sooner, her damaged starboard propeller crankshaft was replaced by that of Titanic, however at the cost of delaying Titanic's completion date. The patching up in Southampton and subsequent permanent repairs in Belfast had taken 2 months in total. Olympic was back in service 29 November but in February 1912 lost a port side propeller blade after hitting an unidentified object while returning from New York. Again for speeding up repairs, resources of Titanic (a propeller blade) were used for Olympic. (Yet already in October 1911, the month after the first incident, it was decided by White Star Line to postpone Titanic's completion and maiden voyage by 3 weeks.) ... more
31 March 1909 the building of Titanic had started. After 2 years and 2 months, 31 May 1911, the ship was launched. As construction then was not yet finished and fitting out still was required, it would take 10 more months for completion. Of course the 1911 launch was a proud, special and cheerful event, but one must realize it was virtually a repeat of the launch, 7 months prior, of the sister ship Olympic. Surrounding a vessel's launch, shipyard workers and local entrepreneurs would produce and sell a variety of souvenir objects.
This propeller of solid brass (not bronze), at the size of a spread hand, appears to be such souvenir object made by a Harland & Wolff shipyard worker, either just before or soon after the launch. If sold on launch day, which attracted many people, it obviously was crafted on the day(s) before. The simple and spontaneous, not to say clumsy or amateuristic looking inscriptions are engraved with an electric mechanical tool and read: R.M.S ; Titanic ; H"andW" (Harland and Wolff) ; Belfast May,31,1911. There is no maker's mark or any other mark to be found. On the back a square brass plate is soldered onto and then punched, obviously for easy wall hanging, so behind that plate may be a mark. Apparently this propeller was made to serve as a wall or desk decoration or possibly a lamp base. It shows irregularities, pittings and traces of polishing (mainly at the axis), probably as a result from the sandcasting production process. However, maybe some of the pitting is from aging. ... more
An unsent real photographic postcard ("RPPC") encouraging support of the Relief Fund for Titanic victims' families. The lyric "Stand to your post" was written by Bennett Scott (1875-1930) within weeks of the sinking. At the time, weeks after the tragedy, it was performed (sung) by Robert Carr in music halls and at concerts to raise funds for widows and orphans left behind. Months later also a sound recording was released by London's Edison Bell company. The verse lines, handwritten on the photo's glass negative, are a portion (chorus) of the song. At top right it says "India May1912" (India used to be British colony). The sailor hat reads "HMS Tiger". No less than 15 ships of British Royal Navy have carried that name. This however must be the Tiger launched in 1900 and sunk in 1908 after collision with another Royal Navy ship. As such the picture was seemingly a stock archive image used to illustrate the postcard's lyric. However, that has appeared not to be the case. The pictured man actually was part of a group of dressed up entertainers (European) in India, May 1912. There happens to exist a similar postcard as this one, with a caption referring to the Titanic Disaster Fund, which portrays 13 persons, mainly the dressed up entertainers, including... this "sailor"!
Back in the days, the real photo postcard was relatively rather uncommon and is therefore relatively rare. This one is actually a real photograph (gloss surface), thus not printed (no dot matrix pattern), with a basic postcard imprint on the back. Generally speaking, only a limited amount of good quality photographic prints would be obtained from a glass negative. During my research, the internet revealed absolutely nothing about this specific postcard, and I have never seen this oddball before or since. An oddball, because the fateful ship is not depicted and even not mentioned. Altogether I expect this card to be extremely rare, possibly amongst the rarest in Titanic postcards. Collecting post-sinking Titanic postcards would be a challenging interest on its own; the amount (diversity) of worldwide issued postcards 1912-1914 on the disaster is very overwhelming, really almost discouraging, and one lifetime with average income would not suffice for finding and buying all the existing post-sinking postcards. ... more
Original sound recording: Stand to your post (2m:55s, mp3)
(will open and play in new window)
Shellworks like this one became fashionable already in Victorian time (1837-1901). They do not really have a specific name; mostly they are described as (a combination of): shell work, shell frame, shell picture, diorama, roundel, domed glass, sailors (shell) valentine. They come in different sizes and shapes, amongst which the star, heart, shell, anchor shape, but also as hand mirrors, photo frames, small boxes. This round model has a dome shaped glass with sea shells and seaweed, with, on a cardboard backing, a trimmed postcard showing a drawing of Titanic (see name on ship's bow). Inner hoop under the glass is colored light blue, likely as symbolic for the seawater. The backing's paper coating is printed dark blue (original) and wrapped around the back. On the back is a "wallpaper" in wood pattern. The brass hanger is still there (sometimes seen broken off, hence thin/flimsy).
Initially I thought that this "Titanic" souvenir from Edwardian era was produced while Olympic and Titanic were still being constructed (1908-1911); photos of the completed, almost identical sister ship Olympic obviously were not yet available. Furthermore a Titanic post-sinking souvenir for commemorating would very typically refer to the sinking and also much rather show a photographic image of Titanic or, in any case, Olympic. Ultimately I had to conclude, very regrettably, that this shellwork must be post-disaster! The reason for this is that I know of only one black printed postcard looking like this one, and that particular one is post-sinking hence its memorial phrases. Still, I had never before seen this Titanic shellwork version (but I had seen a large anchor shaped variant, with the same Titanic ship drawing). Much more common is the version showing a photograph of Titanic leaving Southampton, 10 April 1912, with either the caption "The ill-fated Titanic" or the more rare extended caption "The ill-fated Titanic sunk April 15th, 1912". Also the latter is in my collection, I will add it some time later. ☆
Although a card for cabin assignment and meal consumptions as this one is seemingly a very common item, you will virtually never come across one. Maybe most of these would have been disposed of after usage. This one appears to have been kept for remembrance, mounted in a photo album, hence the slightly creased and blackened corners (see image of back). Apparently in those days lunch could/would be called "dinner" ("Dinner 11.45 a.m."). In the center a "berth" number 112 is filled in with blue pencil.
What struck me in the punching is the first day having smaller holes than the following days. Maybe eating on the first day was still ashore, or on another ship, or maybe there is another explanation? Furthermore, days 1, 4 and 5 have an extra (4th) punching in the section of the day number. Watching the punching course: apparently this voyage had taken 6 days in total, which typically could have been USA-Europe.
Whether this very card was in possession of a regular passenger or perhaps an army or navy soldier is unclear. Also I do not know from which ocean liner company this card originates; maybe White Star Line, or Cunard Line, or some other company. ... more
As a hobby, people in the past and still today would saw patterns out of (ply)wood with a fretsaw. For each cutout of the design a small hole had to be drilled first, then the thin saw put through and reattached to the fretsaw. Then the small area could be sawn. Such wall decoration would take many many many hours to complete. One could design (sketch) his/her own pattern or simply use a design plan from a (hobby) magazine or a separate paper plan. This design plan named "The Titanic" from "June 1912" and priced "1 Penny" is a product "No.234" by The Handicrafts Designs Limited, 57 Farringdon Road, London. This poster style plan, see image nr 3, is also in my collection.
This scroll saw piece from my collection must have been crafted in 1912 or maybe the year after. The design reads "In Memoriam" and "Titanic". The decorative elements are an anchor, ocean waves, leaves and berries, and the sun with its rays (and/or holiness?). The wood is finished with varnish or lacquer (original). On the back is a glued-on thin fabric in a nice dark blue-green color (ocean!), although faded partially. On the front the fabric color unfortunately has faded completely, now appearing brown. This specimen has two shelfs, obviously for placing small objects. I have seen several of this exact same very rare wooden fretwork, but mostly without these shelfs (detached later?). Furthermore most others were mounted on a thick wooden backing and/or framed with or without glass. Personally I like this free contour version better, although it being more delicate and vulnerable. ... more
Eva Hart, born 31 January 1905, was just 7 years old when she and her parents Esther and Benjamin boarded Titanic in Southampton. They traveled 2nd Class. Her father had planned to start a drug store in Winnipeg (mid-south Canada). Her mother had very bad feelings about this ship claimed to be unsinkable. (The family was scheduled for another ship, but, because of the coal strike they, like others, ended up on Titanic.) Esther, now fearing catastrophe, refused to sleep, and indeed stayed awake every night during the voyage. 15 April 1912 was the last day Eva saw her father alive. Soon after she and her mother had reached New York on rescue ship Carpathia they would return to England. Until her early twenties Eva suffered severe nightmares from her Titanic ordeal. On 14 February 1996 she died aged 91. Her mother Esther Hart had died in 1928 at the age of 61.
This "Rembrandt" modern reproduction postcard was acquired together with the two rare original Olympic & Titanic postcards halfway the next web page and is in a similar poor condition (well, that is the back). On the front it shows a small portion of the many thousands Belfast shipyard workers who built the sister ships Olympic (1911), Titanic (1912), Britannic (1915). The steamer in the background must be Olympic (mistrust the card's photo caption). The card's back shows Eva Hart's signature, possibly placed somewhere in the 1970s or maybe early 1980s? Bottom right reveals remnants of certification handstamp and certification signature. Typically these cards were issued in a number of 100 and would state "... of 100". ... more
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