A number of artifacts from the doomed ship Titanic were auctioned in the U.K. Saturday with the sextant used by the captain of rescue ship Carpathia selling for just under $97,000.
The sextant belonged to Carpathia's Captain Sir Arthur Rostron and was sold to a UK phone bidder by auction house Henry Aldridge & Son. The sextant had a pre-sale estimate of $58,000 to $72,900.
The Titanic struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. ship's time on April 14 1912 and sank just over two hours later with the loss of more than 1,500 lives. Rostron’s swift response to the sinking is credited with saving over 700 people.
“This is without doubt one of the most important pieces of Titanic memorabilia due to the integral part Sir Arthur played in the rescue of the surviving 705 men, women and children,” said Henry Aldridge & Son, in a press release.
The first letter written onboard the Titanic, penned just hours before the ship embarked on its doomed maiden voyage, was sold to an Internet bidder for just over $91,000. The letter was written on April 10 1912 before Titanic set sail from Southampton for New York. The author, Paul Danby, wrote the note while visiting his wife’s uncle Adolphe Saalfeld, who was a passenger on the ship. The letter had a pre-sale estimate of $14,500 to $21,700.
Three photos and a handwritten note detailing the grisly discovery of Titanic’s last lifeboat were sold for $6,800. The lot had a pre-sale estimate of between $2,900 and $4,300.
The three photos were taken on May 13, 1912, almost a month after Titanic’s sinking, and show crewmembers from RMS Oceanic attempting to recover one of the doomed liner’s lifeboats. Inside the lifeboat, thought to be the last to leave the sinking ship, were the decomposing bodies of three Titanic passengers.
One photo shows a boat from Oceanic being lowered, another shows the boat approaching the drifting lifeboat. A third picture shows Oceanic crewmembers on the Titanic lifeboat.
A handwritten account of the lifeboat recovery by an unidentified Oceanic passenger describes the gruesome discovery of three corpses. One corpse was wearing a dinner jacket and the bodies of two Titanic firemen were wedged under the lifeboat’s seats, it explained, adding that one corpse’s arms came off in the hands of the Oceanic’s boarding officer. A woman’s ring was also found on the lifeboat, according to the note.
Last year a cup presented by Titanic survivor Molly Brown to the captain of rescue ship Carpathia sold for $200,000 in a major auction of Titanic memorabilia held by Henry Aldridge & Son. A photo purportedly showing the iceberg that sank the Titanic also sold for $32,000 in the auction.
Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers