Auction News

Titanic band played on with violin from this case 


A violin case initialed WHH that was owned by Titanic bandmaster Wallace Hartley.

A leather violin case could sell for £120,000 at auction. The price is down to its final use, holding the instrument of tragic Titanic bandmaster Wallace Hartley. 

That instrument is the most valuable piece of Titanic memorabilia yet sold, realising £1.1 million at auction in 2013. It’s now a showpiece exhibit at the Belfast Titanic Museum. 

This case once held it, but couldn’t help its owner survive in the frozen north Atlantic as the ship went down after striking an iceberg.  

Hartley is believed to have strapped the bag to his body with the instrument inside as the ship sank. 

He was among the 1,522 victims of the 1912 disaster. 

His body was discovered along with the case and instrument, which were returned to his fiancee, Maria Robinson, in Lancashire. 

She left them to a Salvation Army Band. A music teacher member of that band gave them to a pupil. It then passed to her son, who proved the story with forensic tests and CT scans, and sold the violin for a record amount. 

The case will be auctioned on April 27, 2024, and carries an estimate of £100,000 to £120,000. A private collector is selling.

It is initialled WHH for Hartley. The instrument and its case had been a 1910 gift from Maria Robinson. 

The memorial to Hartley in his home town of Colne.

An order of service for Hartley’s funeral is also being sold. He was 33 when he died.  

The Titanic disaster is one of the most collectible events in modern history. 

The sinking of the “unsinkable” liner took many lives, and told many stories. 

The legendary tale of the band playing on deck as the liner went down is among the most iconic images of that terrible night. 

Items connected to the sinking can command hundreds of thousands of pounds at auction. 

A gold watch owned by John Astor, the wealthiest passenger to die in the sinking, is listed at this sale with a similar estimate of £100,000+.

A menu from the ship’s first and only voyage raised nearly £90,000 and a watch worn by a passenger just short of £100,000 this year. 

Last month, a prop piece of ship debris from the 1997 film Titanic made $750,000 at auction. 

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