One of the most poignant memory recalled by some of the 900 survivors from 885-feet long luxury liner Titanic that sank on April 15th 1912, was that of the orchestra playing the hymn "Nearer, My God, to Thee", to try calm the panicked passengers as they made their way to the lifeboats.
Though none of the seven-member band survived, what surprisingly did, was a violin that was being played by their leader, Wallace Hartley. Found strapped to his chest inside a leather luggage case that bore his initials initials W.H.H, it was even Inscribed with a message from his fiancé to mark their engagement.
As seems to be the case for many of these ancient treasures, the violin disappeared for many decades. Then in 2006, it was discovered in an attic in a house in Northwest England. After many years, its authenticity was finally proved and the iconic instrument was put up for bidding in Southwest England on Saturday, October 19th, 2013, by Titanic specialist auctioneers, Henry Aldridge and Son.
While the bidding purportedly started at a mere $80 USD, the auctioneers had in reality set a reserve or minimum price of between $323,000-$484,000 for the precious artifact. But even that proved to be too low as buyers frantically bid up the iconic piece to over $500,000 USD within just a few minutes.
At that price most bidders dropped out and the 200 people that were present at the auction waited with abated breath to see which of the two remaining telephone bidders would get the coveted instrument. Ten minutes after it all began, the verdict was in - The fateful bandmaster's violin had been sold for an astounding $1.45million USD, way surpassing the previous highest price of $350,000 USD paid for a piece of memorabilia from the Titanic.
Dubbed 'The ship of dreams', the Titanic was a luxury cruise liner like no other. Considered an engineering marvel in 1912, it was not only the largest ship to ever grace the seas, but also, featured unrivaled grandeur and amenities. Not surprisingly, its inaugural and only passenger list, included some of the world's most powerful and wealthiest people. It is therefore not surprising that the sinking of the 50,000-ton behemoth after hitting an iceberg within days of its launch, continues to capture the interest and imagination of people all over the world, till today.
Resources: aljazeera.com, news.yahoo.com