A letter written on board the Titanic on the day of the ship’s sinking sold at auction in England on Saturday for 199,000 pounds, or about $200,000 to an American bidder. Over 102 years after the letter was written, it is finally finding a new home, with someone paying a hefty sum of money to acquire this important piece of history, and according to NPR, the total that the letter sold for exceeded expectations by $30,000. Its presale estimate had been anywhere from $120,000 to $180,000. Also being auctioned off along with the surviving letter was a second class breakfast menu from the Titanic, dated April 11, 1912, which sold for $146,000. A Titanic launch ticket also sold for $67,000. Additionally, an insurance claim form filled out by four crew members with a detailed account of what had happened on the ship sold for $15,000. A metal lifeboat plate was also sold at the auction.
The Titanic letter in question was written on stationary from the Titanic by survivor Esther Hart and fellow survivor, Eva Hart, who was her 7-year-old daughter. The letter was penned the day of the sinking, on a Sunday afternoon, April 14, 1912. It was written just eight hours before the ship hit the infamous iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean that ended its journey. Titanic, as is well known, went down quickly after it made contact with the massive iceberg, in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912. Selling at auction for the equivalent of $200,000, the letter written by Hart serves as a reminder of how rare and valuable items from the sunken ship are over 100 years after its demise.
The Titanic artifacts that are still left, however, are still being preserved as well as they can be. Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., (a suburb of Detroit), held a commemorative 100 year anniversary exhibit in back 2012 which showcased all real artifacts saved and recovered from the Titanic. Viewers could walk through the exhibit and see what life would have been like for a passenger on the ship, touch a real life iceberg to get an idea of how cold the water was, and read stories and trivia about the ship and the travelers aboard.
Addressing her letter written the day of the Titanic’s sinking to her mother residing in England, Esther Hart wrote that she and Eva were enjoying their journey on board the Titanic, and having a ‘wonderful journey’, along with some other minor details regarding her sea sickness and church services she had attended. She then mentioned that the ship was moving quite rapidly and that she expected that they [the passengers] would be arriving in New York early. Hart and her daughter survived the ship’s sinking that night. Kept safe in the pocket of her husband’s coat, given to her by him to keep warm while she was in the lifeboats, the letter somehow managed to survive too, and it has for over 100 years to now sell at auction as a piece of history for $200,000. Hart’s husband, however, was not so lucky, and went down with the ship. Esther Hart died the next decade, in 1928; however, her daughter, Eva, lived out her life until 1996, becoming a well-known survivor of the ship. Eva criticized the many attempts to recover Titanic, as she felt that the ship’s remains, deep at the bottom of the North Atlantic, were essentially a mass grave for the 1,500 people who had been killed when the ship went down.
By Laura Clark