Share

Violin Played On Deck of Sinking Titanic Found

March 16, 2013

AP Photo/Henry Aldridge

Auctioneers Henry Aldridge & Son say the violin, unearthed in 2006, has undergone rigorous testing and proven to be the same instrument the Titanic bandmaster played as the ship sank.

LONDON -- The violin played by the bandmaster of the Titanic as the oceanliner sank has been unearthed, a British auction house said Friday.

Survivors of the Titanic have said they remember the band, led by Wallace Hartley, playing on deck even as passengers boarded lifeboats after the ship hit an iceberg.

(MORE: Does Disaster Await the West Coast?)

Hartley's violin was believed lost in the 1912 disaster, but auctioneers Henry Aldridge & Son say an instrument unearthed in 2006 and has undergone rigorous testing and proven to be Hartley's.

"It's been a long haul," said auctioneer Andrew Aldridge, explaining the find had initially seemed "too good to be true."

The auction house spent the past seven years and thousands of pounds determining the water-stained violin's origins, consulting numerous experts including government forensic scientists and Oxford University.

The auction house said the rose wood instrument has two long cracks on its body, but is "incredibly well-preserved" despite its age and exposure to the sea. It estimated the violin is worth six figures.

(PHOTOS: Nature's Delicate Architecture)

Hartley was one of the 1,517 people who perished when the Titanic struck an iceberg 350 miles (565 kilometers) south of Newfoundland on April 15, 1912.

Some reports at the time suggested Hartley's corpse was found fully dressed with his instrument strapped to his body, though there was also speculation the violin floated off and was lost at sea.

Henry Aldridge and Son said it researched the violin's story with a Hartley biographer as the instrument underwent forensic testing, uncovering documents that showed Hartley was found with a large leather valise strapped to him and the violin inside.

The violin apparently was returned to Hartley's grieving fiancée, the auction house said, and later ended up in the hands of the Salvation Army before being given to a violin teacher and ultimately Henry Aldridge & Son.

Testing by the U.K. Forensic Science Service showed corrosion deposits were considered "compatible with immersion in sea water," while a silver expert studied a plate on the violin's neck to determine if it fit the time profile.

Henry Aldridge & Son said the violin will go on public display at the end of the month at Belfast City Hall, less than a mile from where Titanic was built.

MORE: Underwater Art Gallery

A haunting image from Viennese artist Andreas Franke's underwater art gallery is seen. (Andreas Franke)


Featured Blogs

93L Fighting Dry Air, But Could be a Tropical Depression

By Dr. Jeff Masters
July 31, 2014

An area of disturbed weather located near 11°N, 52°W at 8 am EDT Thursday, about 650 miles east of the Lesser Antilles Islands (93L), has maintained a well-organized surface circulation and has now developed enough heavy thunderstorms to potentially be classified as a tropical depression later today.

Rare Coastal California Lightning Storm Kills One and Injures 12

By Christopher C. Burt
July 29, 2014

A freak thunderstorm quickly developed off the Pacific coastline near Los Angeles Sunday afternoon and moved onshore at popular Venice Beach in Los Angeles County. Frequent lightning strikes killed one man and injured a dozen others. This may be the only time that a summertime beach lightning fatality has occurred in California history.

Live Blog: Tracking Hurricane Arthur as it Approaches North Carolina Coast

By Shaun Tanner
July 3, 2014

This is a live blog set up to provide the latest coverage on Hurricane Arthur as it threatens the North Carolina Coast. Check back often to see what the latest is with Arthur. The most recent updates are at the top.

Tropical Terminology

By Stu Ostro
June 30, 2014

Here is some basic, fundamental terminology related to tropical cyclones. Rather than a comprehensive and/or technical glossary, this represents the essence of the meaning & importance of some key, frequently used terms.

2013-14 - An Interesting Winter From A to Z

By Tom Niziol
May 15, 2014

It was a very interesting winter across a good part of the nation from the Rockies through the Plains to the Northeast. Let's break down the most significant winter storms on a month by month basis.

What the 5th IPCC Assessment Doesn't Include

By Angela Fritz
September 27, 2013

Melting permafrost has the potential to release an additional 1.5 trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and could increase our global average temperature by 1.5°F in addition to our day-to-day human emissions. However, this effect is not included in the IPCC report issued Friday morning, which means the estimates of how Earth's climate will change are likely on the conservative side.