Violin on Titanic sells for $1.7 million

The instrument, which was played as passengers rushed to lifeboats, is the most expensive item from the doomed ship.

By InvestorPlace Oct 21, 2013 11:59AM
Auctioneer Alan Aldridge holds the violin of Wallace Hartley, the band leader of the Titanic. Matt Cardy/Getty ImagesBy Burke Speaker

iplogoThe violin that was played by a member of the Titanic's band as passengers rushed to lifeboats sold for $1.7 million at an auction in the UK. The name of the buyer was not released.


The Titanic violin (pictured) had been pulled from the waters on the back of Wallace Hartley, the ship's bandleader and the violin's owner. The memorabilia is the most expensive of all the items that have come from the doomed ship.


From CNN:

"Hartley's body was reportedly pulled from the water days after the April 1912 sinking with his violin case still strapped to his back.


In 2006, the damaged violin was found in the attic of a home in Britain.


It was authenticated through testing of salt water deposits, according to a statement released by Henry Aldridge and Son, which hosted the auction in Wiltshire, England.


The violin was adorned with an engraved silver plate that connected it to Hartley."

After the sinking, the Titanic wreckage was discovered by explorers in 1985 off the coast of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Since that time, there have been numerous recovery expeditions, during which other artifacts have been recovered, including silverware, cups, clothes and parts of the ship itself.


CNN reports that in 2004, "Guernsey's auctioned off memorabilia from the Titanic and a few artifacts that had been passed down through the families of survivors." An original menu, for example, sold for about $100,000.


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46Comments
Oct 21, 2013 2:23PM
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Always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. If compare yourself to others you will become vain and bitter.

                                                                                                                            -Desiderata

Oct 21, 2013 2:25PM
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I would like to know the make of the violin, or where it was made.  It must be a good instrument.
Oct 21, 2013 3:28PM
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As sad as the sinking of the Titanic was with a loss of about 1500 lives;  it is not the worst maritime tragedy - The Wilhelm Gustloff sunk in late January 1945 with a loss of almost 9000 lives. Since most of the loss was German civilians and wounded soldiers by a Russian Submarine it was downplayed and hardly mentioned in the press reports even to his day. 
Oct 21, 2013 2:45PM
Oct 21, 2013 4:13PM
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Personally, I think it is great when such a famous artifact resurfaces from the past.  It gives us all a chance to visualize it playing - "Near My God to Thee".
Oct 21, 2013 5:07PM
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I am a violinist.  When a violin even gets exposed to humidity, the wood swells and causes problems.  If a violin (or any stringed instrument) goes uncared for in any way too long (like being stored an attic, for example!), the sensitive wood would be permanently damaged causing warping, severe cracking and possibly irreparable damage.  This is all due to simple air temperature and humidity/dew point changes.  I live in Minnesota, and the extreme temperatures and climate are very challenging to deal with as we must take our instruments in and out all year long.  I have a climate-controlled case to store and protect my violin, but there is no way that technology existed in 1912.  The cases from that era were mere wooden boxes with a hook to hold it shut. (I know, I have one!) Not air tight, not water-tight. I hate to be so skeptical of this wonderful find, but how in the world did this violin survive days in the ocean, especially in salt water yet as well?  And then...90+ years lost in an attic somewhere?  Not only survive, but look in the beautiful condition it does?  Hmmm.....

Oct 21, 2013 2:23PM
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I see what you guys did there. Tie the artifact to our economy and hate on the rich.
Oct 21, 2013 4:43PM
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didn't the titanic sink off coast of newfoundland.
Oct 21, 2013 4:42PM
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A person can land a good deal "fiddle fartin" around.

Oct 21, 2013 10:39PM
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I'm sorry, 'youaresick553', you seem to be directing some of your grammatical errors and confusing comments at me...  Did I claim to be an "expert"?  No.  Does the fact that I have been playing the violin for nearly 40 years, and 20 of that professionally as well as being an educator, mean that I do know a thing or two about how to CARE for a violin, and what happens to one without proper care?  Absolutely, undoubtedly... YES.  Am I being negative, or I am somehow jealous that I didn't go digging in the ocean around the Titanic for this violin? Um...No.  I truly do not care, the whole story is just incredibly suspicious.  Calm down for a moment and think about this... a violin is made of....WOOD.  What happens to wood when it gets wet? Especially soaking for days in a salt-water ocean?......   Even my own young daughter (who has been playing violin herself for 10 years) said...what about mice chewing it up in the attic?   (That happens often!)  We've done enough thrift shop and auction shopping to know full well the damage that can happen to these fragile instruments when not cared for (they're often forgotten about in an attic).  Nothing has been said in any of the news reports regarding this violin about the extensive restoration process that had to have occurred for this instrument, if it is truly THE Titanic violin.  THOSE experts deserve some credit!!    We all simply need to learn to truly THINK about everything the media hands us as "fact".   This should be highly suspicious for anyone that has any understanding of the properties of wood...not just violins.  I am simply not convinced that this is the "Titanic Violin", I think it may quite possibly be a replica made from historical documents, and sadly sold as authentic.
Oct 21, 2013 5:22PM
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interestingly enough in some of the early memoirs as recalled by some survivors and most notably the book written in 1913 called titanic by colonel Archibald grace who actually almost went down with the ship.(close enough to see other pulled down by the suction)claimed that while some passengers  were singing hymns to the end including one called a 'hymn to those lost at sea'the titanic band played only upbeat songs and never played nearer my god to thee.they do rhyme though and it it fit better into the movie.made some forty years later.
Oct 21, 2013 5:09PM
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It is amazing that it is still intact!
Oct 21, 2013 5:03PM
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who gets the money for this violin?  Hopefully, some of his relatives or his sweetheart. 
Oct 21, 2013 7:06PM
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ALWAYS GREAT TREASURES IN OUR BEAUTIFUL OCEANS. I READ EVERY REPLY BELOW AND NONE OF YOU ARE A VIOLIN EXPERT. IF YOU PLAY ONE AND KNOW HOW IT CAN BE STORED, DOESN'T MAKE YOU AN EXPERT. I PERSONALLY WOULD NOT WANT TO GO DIGGING FOR OTHER PEOPLES TREASURE. MOST OF WHICH HAD THEIR LIVES TAKEN.  ANY OCEAN DIGGERS MUST TURN THEIR FINDS TO THE APPROPRIATE PLACE FOR ITEMS TO BE DETERMINED. THEN ANY MONEY EARNED, SHOULD GO TO ANY EXISTING FAMILY MEMBER THAT EMBARKED ON THE FIRST SHIP TO EVER BE ABLE TO GO AS FAST AS IT DID. WHAT ME NEED FOR ANYTHING FOUND FROM THE TITANTIC SHOULD BE AUTHENICATED, THEN GO FROM THERE. ALL OF YOU BELOW WITH SUCH NEGATIVE MESSAGES, YOU ARE JUST MAD CAUSE YOU DIDN'T DO ANYTHING WITH THIS HUGE OCEANLINER, UNTIL YOU CAN GET OFF YOUR BUTTS, SHUT UP !!!!!!!
Oct 21, 2013 6:26PM
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Ahh, good. I see someone is profiting from the disaster. Why not just pull up some teeth or bones and sell them? Jerks.
Oct 21, 2013 4:59PM
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wasn't the titanic sunk off coast of newfoundland
Oct 21, 2013 5:13PM
Oct 21, 2013 5:01PM
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the violin should be dropped in the north atlantic where the titanic sank - case closed
Oct 21, 2013 3:24PM
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1.7 MILLION FOR  piece of wood that is linked to tragedy!?

 

no thanks

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