A salt-stained violin that sank with the Titanic a century ago may soon come up for auction, the New York Post reports. Experts have authenticated the instrument, and say that bandmaster Wallace Hartley played it in the ship's final moments as he led his eight-member group in performing "Nearer, My God, to Thee." The violin turned up 10 days after the disaster, strapped to Hartley's body in a leather valise engraved with his initials.
A gift from Hartley's fiancee, the violin had three owners before the current anonymous owner discovered it in his mother's attic seven years ago. "When we first saw the violin, we had to keep a lid on our excitement, because it was almost as if it was too good to be true," said a Titanic auctioneer who spent seven years authenticating the instrument. "It is the most important artifact relating to the Titanic to ever emerge, and probably the most valuable." Estimated to be worth six figures, it will remain on display in the English town of Devizes for now.