For Sale: Bandleader's Violin ... That Went Down With Titanic

Expected to fetch almost half a million

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 18, 2013 11:24 AM CDT

(Newser) – If you have a good chunk of change to spare, you may be able to snatch up a piece of Titanic history tomorrow—perhaps even play a tune on it. A water-damaged violin believed to have belonged to the historic ship's bandleader will hit the auction block, and it could fetch close to $500,000 at Henry Aldridge & Son—which would make it the most expensive piece of Titanic memorabilia ever sold. As legend has it, bandmaster Wallace Hartley played the hymn "Nearer, My God, to Thee" before he met his end in the icy water, where he was found with his leather violin case still upon him, the Los Angeles Times reports, though the paper notes that's likely a myth.

If interested, you'll likely do battle with others touched by the story of the orchestra playing on as the ship sank, in an effort to comfort the doomed passengers; that part of the story, at least, has been corroborated by witnesses. "It is just a remarkable piece of history," the auctioneer tells the AP. "I have been an auctioneer for 20 years, but I have never seen an item that brings out this degree of emotion in people before." The most expensive piece of Titanic memorabilia to date? A 32-foot drawing of the Titanic, used in the inquiry following the disaster, which sold for $350,000.

A violin believed to be the one played by Titanic bandmaster Wallace Hartley will go up for auction tomorrow.   (AP Photo/Henry Aldridge and Son)
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