Auctioneers find violin played as Titanic sank

LONDON — The violin played by the bandmaster of the Titanic as the oceanliner sank has been unearthed, a British auction house said Friday.

Survivors of the Titanic have said they remember the band, led by Wallace Hartley, playing on deck even as passengers boarded lifeboats after the ship hit an iceberg.

Hartley’s violin was believed lost in the 1912 disaster, but auctioneers Henry Aldridge &Son say an instrument unearthed in 2006 and has undergone rigorous testing and proven to be Hartley’s.

“It’s been a long haul,” said auctioneer Andrew Aldridge, explaining the find had initially seemed “too good to be true.”

The auction house spent the past seven years and thousands of pounds determining the water-stained violin’s origins, consulting numerous experts including government forensic scientists and Oxford University.

The auction house said the rose wood instrument has two long cracks on its body, but is “incredibly well-preserved” despite its age and exposure to the sea. It estimated the violin is worth six figures.

Hartley was one of the 1,517 people who perished when the Titanic struck an iceberg 350 miles south of Newfoundland on April 15, 1912.

Some reports at the time suggested Hartley’s corpse was found fully dressed with his instrument strapped to his body, though there was also speculation the violin floated off and was lost at sea.

Henry Aldridge and Son said it researched the violin’s story with a Hartley biographer as the instrument underwent forensic testing, uncovering documents that showed Hartley was found with a large leather valise strapped to him and the violin inside.

The violin apparently was returned to Hartley’s grieving fiancĂ©e, the auction house said, and later ended up in the hands of the Salvation Army before being given to a violin teacher and ultimately Henry Aldridge &Son.

Testing by the U.K. Forensic Science Service showed corrosion deposits were considered “compatible with immersion in sea water,” while a silver expert studied a plate on the violin’s neck to determine if it fit the time profile.

Henry Aldridge &Son said the violin will go on public display at the end of the month at Belfast City Hall, less than a mile from where Titanic was built.

More in Local News

Longboarders from near and far hit the trail in Arlington

The Centennial Sk8 Festival was serious competition for some and just for fun for others.

Signs show the rates for using the express toll lanes for traffic headed southbound on Interstate 405, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Bothell, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee announced plans Tuesday to try to decrease congestion on I-405 in answer to commuter complaints that the new express lane tolling system is making traffic worse. The governor said he would not be shutting down the tolling system as some people have called for. But the state transportation department is making plans to add new northbound general purpose lanes to ease some of the congestion and also plan to make it easier to move into and out of the express lanes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
After a 2-year trial, are I-405’s toll lanes here to stay?

Lawmakers will decide whether to keep them or end the experiment and try something else.

Weary drivers using toll lanes say they have little choice

Congestion continues to be a tedious reality for commuters on I-405, which is as clogged as ever.

Council passes six-month moratorium on safe injection sites

Proposal by County Councilman Nate Nehring passed unanimously.

Terrace woman held following collision in Everett

The three occupants in vehicle were transported to a local hospital in serious condition.

Information sought on drive-by shooting in Everett

Debris from an apparent crash, evidence of gunfire found in the 2800 block of California Street.

Crews recover body of man who fell over Wallace Falls

The area where the man fell is called Sky Valley Lookout, 2.4 miles from the parking lot.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

This week’s Herald Super Kid is Nathan Nicholson of Snohomish High School. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
‘The future is biotech,’ but for now he’s busy with everything

Snohomish senior Nathan Nicholson is a student leader and media master.

Most Read