Auction of the Only Letter of the Titanic
The sinking of RMS Titanic is something we are all vaguely familiar with, if only because of the Oscar-winning film that portrayed the disaster. What is less known is that a letter, the only one known to have been written on board the ship on that very same fateful day, has managed to survive 102 years. That letter is now to be auctioned later this month and is expected to fetch more than £100,000.
On 10 April 1912, the Belfast-build RMS Titanic set sail from Southampton in England for New York in America. The liner was meant to be the pinnacle of luxury and first-class accommodation, complete with libraries and a swimming pool, as well as a wireless telegraph service for the convenience of her passengers.
Four days and 375 miles after her historic launch, at precisely 11.40 pm ship’s time, the “Unsinkable Ship” was struck by an iceberg before sinking 2 and a half hours later. Of the 2,224 people aboard her, more than 1,500 never made it home.
Esther Hart, her husband Benjamin, and their seven-year-old daughter Eva has been amongst the passengers of the Titanic. That afternoon, Esther had written a letter to her mother in Essex, intending for it to be delivered once the ship had returned to England.
The letter, stamped with the White Star Line logo and headed with “On Board RMS Titanic”, details how Mrs Hart had fallen ill on the previous day, unable to eat or drink anything, but had now recovered. She wrote about how she and Eva had been to a church service just that morning and that pair were planning to sing in an onboard concert the following evening.
“The sailors say we have had a wonderful passage up to now,” she wrote, commenting on her seasickness. Beneath her signature, reads, “Heaps of love and kisses to all from Eva”, is a childish scrawl.
The letter was presumably given to her husband for safe keeping, but that night disaster struck and the Titanic was no more. Esther and Eva were thankfully saved, but Benjamin was tragically amongst those lost – the letter pulled from his sheepskin-lined jacket after the rescue.
Eva went on to become one of the most famous survivors of the event, and lived until 1996 when she was 91.
The letter has now been passed onto auctioneers Henry Aldridge & Son, from Devizes in Wiltshire. Andrew Aldridge, in charge of Titanic and oceanic memorabilia, said that the importance of the letter should not be underestimated. “[It is] the only known surviving example of its type to have been written on that fateful day,” he said, “surviving the sinking and having belonged to such a well-known survivor.”
Both the letter and its original envelope will be going under the hammer with other Titanic memorabilia on Saturday 26 April.