Titanic Biscuit From Lifeboat Up For Auction

Photo: Henry Aldridge & Son
Photo: Henry Aldridge & Son

It can never be said that auctioneers Henry Aldridge & Son never fail to see a profit in any Titanic memorabilia. A biscuit that was part of a survival kit in one of the Titanic lifeboats–and put into a Kodak photograph envelope by a passenger on Carpathia–is up for auction on 24 Oct 2015. The estimated price is between £8,000 – £10,000. Henry Aldridge tells the Daily Mirror:

“It is the world’s most valuable biscuit.We don’t know which lifeboat the biscuit came from but there are no other Titanic lifeboat biscuits in existence to my knowledge. It is incredible that this biscuit has survived such a dramatic event – the sinking of the world’s largest ocean liner – costing 1,500 lives.”

It really does prove Hard Tack can last a very long time indeed.

1.Biscuit That Survived Titanic Sinking 103 Years Ago Could Be Yours For £10k (8 Oct 2015,Daily Mirror)
2.Henry Aldridge & Son (website;news section)

SS United States Might Be Headed For Scrap

SS United States at sea, 1950s (Public Domain)

The old SS United States is facing a most undesirable future. Built in 1952 to be the fastest passenger luxury ship under the U.S. flag (and in fact subsidized by the federal government)she garnered impressive speed records and the Blue Riband in 1952. But transatlantic ship travel dwindled as more people flew rather than take a ship. And so it languished bouncing around from owners and occasional thoughts of using her again for this and that. Most of the fittings and furniture were sold in 1984. Norwegian Cruise Lines did consider using it but never did and ultimately the SS United States Conservancy (a non-profit group)got title to the ship.

But as you can guess, having a ship docked at a working pier (pier 82 in Philadelphia)is not cheap. Ultimately the goal is to move the ship to an area easily accessed by the general public and like the Queen Mary, make it a stationary attraction. The conservancy board of directors has decided, if it cannot raise the funds necessary to sell it to a recycler.

From their official release:

After much deliberation and consultation, the SS United States Conservancy’s Board of Directors has decided to retain a broker to explore the potential sale of America’s Flagship, the SS United States to a responsible, U.S.-based metals recycler. We have achieved an extraordinary amount of progress in support of the SS United States‘ potential redevelopment in recent months, including detailed plans, financial models, renderings, and engineering approaches with support from a number of major firms. In so many ways, we’ve never been closer to saving America’s Flagship, but we have also never been closer to losing this irreplaceable piece of our history.

The Conservancy has been very clear in its communications to its supporters and the media that the carrying costs for the vessel total more than $60,000 per month. While our fundraising effortshave enabled us to meet those continuing obligations to date, thanks to the steadfast support of donors from across the nation and around the world, the financial burdens imposed bythe ship’s ongoing expenses have become unsustainable. The Conservancy continues to do everything within its power to advance an outcome that protects the vessel, preserves her historical legacy, and secures a viable redevelopment program. As we have announced previously, redevelopment negotiations are ongoing. We have identified two potential locations that can accommodate the ship, and we are continuing complex talks with various entities regarding these sites. These ongoing discussions remain subject to confidentiality agreements signed by both parties.

Despite this progress in our redevelopment negotiations, the timing of additional financial support from our partners may come too late, in the absence of another party willing to support the Conservancy or assume responsibility for the vessel at this time.

If donors or investors step forward by the end of the month who are ready, willing, and able to help the Conservancy, America’s Flagship could still be saved. However, if progress toward a new sales option or an infusion of funds does not occur by October 31, 2015, we will have no choice but to negotiate the sale of the ship to a responsible U.S.-based recycler.

Hopefully enough money will be raised so the ship will be saved. But it looks dicey. Sad to see a great piece of American history heading toward being torn up for scrap.

1.SS United States May Only Have Weeks Left Afloat(7 Oct 2015,Newsmax)
2.SS United States Conservancy (website)

Liverpool’s Titanic/Irish Connections

St. George's Hall, Liverpool circa 1890's Public Domain (U.S. Library of Congress, digital id#08555)
St. George’s Hall, Liverpool circa 1890’s
Public Domain (U.S. Library of Congress, digital id#08555)

The annual Irish festival in Liverpool is about to take place so the Liverpool Echo listed 10 things the two have in common. Number three on the list are ships and specifically Titanic. The list (from top to bottom)is:

1. Distinctive Scouse accent.
2. People of Irish descent living in Liverpool.
3. Ships/Titanic.
4. The number of Irish pubs in Liverpool.
5. Irish music is popular.
6. Football (soccer for those in the USA).
7. Famous Irish poet William Butler Yeats made many trips to Liverpool.
8. Irish street names.
9. Politicians with Irish backgrounds/ancestry.
10.Chambered tombs.

Source: Ten connections between Liverpool and Ireland (4 Oct 2015, Liverpool Echo)

Countdown to Halloween: The Mummy

Poster for the 1932 film The Mummy Image:Public Domain
Poster for the 1932 film The Mummy
Image:Public Domain

Inspiration for many mummy-themed movies is drawn from a Bram Stoker book called Jewel of the Seven Stars. Unlike Dracula which has been given both literary and cinematic status, this 1903 book is not as widely known but influenced the mummy franchise we generally know today. The story is about a dead Egyptian queen named Tera who during her life amassed considerable dark powers. A mummy hand with seven fingers, adorned with a ruby ring with seven points that look like stars is found with her in the tomb. Abel Trelawny, a noted Egyptologist, becomes obsessed with the idea of resurrecting her. His daughter, Margaret, born not  long after the tomb’s discovery, bears a resemblance to the dead queen and later seems to either be connected to her or controlled by her.

The ceremony to resurrect Tera is performed and in the original ending appears to succeed but at great cost to those who participated. However the ending was quite shocking and upset quite a lot of people (it was not a happy ending except for Queen Tera). The result was that in 1912 Stoker wrote a second ending where the ceremony failed and the Margaret and the story’s narrator (Malcolm Ross) married. The essential story of an ancient Egyptian mummy being resurrected via dark forces though would inspire other tales and most notably the 1932 movie The Mummy starring Boris Karloff. In the movie, Imhotep was caught attempting to resurrect his dead love, Princess Ankh-es-en-amon, and sentenced to be mummified alive. He comes alive when an archaeological team finds his mummy and disappears returning 10 years later as Ardeth Bay to help another excavation team find Ankh-es-en-amon’s tomb. He encounters a young woman named Helen Grosvenor (played by Zita Johann)who likes like Ankh-es-en-amon. He seeks to bring back his former love by trying to show she is the reincarnation and later in a ceremony where Helen will be killed.

The movie was a success but no direct sequels were ever made. Hammer made a series of mummy movies based on the same story. The Mummy (1999)starring Brendan Fraser was billed as a remake but really re-imagined (like the more recent version of Battlestar Galactica). Several attempted mummy movies based on the Stoker novel are mostly unremarkable except for the 1971 Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb. Like the original ending of the Stoker novel, most are dead at the end and the ambiguous ending leaves you guessing whether Tera or Margaret survived (albeit not in the way Tera would have hoped for if it was her.) To begin our countdown to Halloween, here is a clip from the 1932 movie The Mummy starring Boris Karloff.

And here is the trailer for the 1999 re-imagined version:

Titanic A Boost To Belfast Economy

According to a UTV news report, Titanic Belfast is a major economic boost to Belfast exceeding original targets. Between April 1, 2012 when Titanic Belfast began to March 2015 ,900 jobs have been created. 1.9 million people attended the galleries along with conferences and special exhibitions that drew people in as well.

Titanic Belfast (side view) Image:Prioryman (Wikipedia)
Titanic Belfast (side view)
Image:Prioryman (Wikipedia)

The figures also show that most visitors were from outside Northern Ireland (over 71%). Visitors spend money in lodging, food, sightseeing, and of course all kinds of extra purchases that put money into the economy. Titanic was a tragedy but celebrating its loss has proven to be a major boost for Belfast.

Source: Titanic Belfast ‘Generated £105m For NI Economy’ (2 Oct 2015, UTV)

Friday Funny: Abbott & Costello

Perhaps one of the funniest sketches of all time is Abbott & Costello’s Who’s On First? Even if you do not like baseball, you have to laugh. Abbott & Costello performed it both on radio and television to great acclaim. While the routine was copyrighted, they never performed it quite the same way each time.  Sometimes the names or nicknames of real players were tossed in or referenced. A gold record of the sketch is at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Time magazine in 1999 named it the Best Comedy Sketch of the 20th century. There have been other imitators, of course, some done to parody the sketch. The original though still is the best. And whether performed on radio or television never failed to entertain.