I recall some years ago when Wallace Hartley’s violin was found and the incredible amount of attention it generated. It truly was a great find. The actual violin that Titanic band leader Wallace Hartley played on the ship had been discovered. It was in a bag on his body and was later stored and nearly forgotten.
Of course there was a lot of skepticism, as there should be. There have been a lot of scams of fake Titanic memorabilia being passed off as genuine in the past. The violin was rigorously examined and tested to make sure it was authentic. It was and ultimately auctioned off (the winning bidder was anonymous). Here is an interesting story looking into the violin and its importance not only to him but his fiancee that sadly was never to be his wife.
Hartley’s body was pulled from the water 10 days after the Titanic sank. Strapped to the bandleader, the rescuers found a leather valise with the initials W.H.H. Inside was his violin case and treasured instrument, as well as some musical scores. For decades, the violin was lost to public knowledge. However, upon its resurfacing in 2006, the rest of the sad story of Hartley and his fiancée has been illuminated. Upon the violin’s emergence from a musician’s attic in 2006, the instrument was the subject of scrutiny by auction house Henry Aldridge & Son and Christian Tennyson-Ekeberg, author of Nearer, Our God, to Thee: The Biography of the Titanic Bandmaster. It was discovered that in July 1912, a grieved Robinson included a telegram receipt in her diary. It read, “I would be most grateful if you could convey my heartfelt thanks to all who have made possible the return of my late fiancé’s violin.” Somehow, in the process of identifying and repatriating the dead, the possessions of the late bandmaster were returned to England.
The Associated Press (AP) is reporting that the Hartley violin–owned by a private buyer who bought it auction in 2013–will be on display at two US museums in 2016. It will first go to Titanic Museum in Branson,Missouri from 7 Mar-29 May 2016 and then go to Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge from 5 Jun-14 Aug 2016. The violin has not been on display since its purchase. Auctioneers Henry Aldridge & Son represent the owner.
The Associated Press is reporting the Hartley Violin sold for $1.6 million today at the auction held by Henry Aldridge & Son. The amount sold sets a record for a Titanic artifact. The name of the buyer, who bid over the phone, wished to remain anonymous according to Andrew Aldridge.
Sarah Griffiths, writing for the UK Daily Mail, examines the history of the Hartley violin and the scientific tests taken to determine its authenticity. The various tests–a CT scan, forensic testing of the metal plate, examination of the wood–along with documentary evidence leads to the conclusion the violin is authentic. Additionally corrosion tests match submersion in seawater. Although the violin was not listed in his personal effects when his body was recovered, it is believed that it was regarded as luggage rather than a personal effect.
Henry Aldridge & Son claims it invested thousands in getting the violin authenticated. And when it goes on the auction block on 19 Oct, they expect to make it all back (and quite a bit more as well). The violin will likely set a new record if it sells for the estimated £4000,000. I suspect it will sell for a lot more than that.
1. Hartley Violin Update
Wallace Hartley’s violin will make one last public display before its date with auctioneer Henry Aldridge & Son on 19 Oct. The violin will be going to his hometown (Dewsbury, UK) and on display for one day only on Monday, October 14 in the town hall. A vintage tea room with period music will be setup as well.
Source: Wallace Hartley’s Titanic Violin To Return Home To Dewsbury(1 Oct 2013, Dewsbury Reporter)
2. Rory Golden, who has been on two dives to Titanic, will be giving two talks at the former Harland & Wolff Drawing Office about his experiences diving to Titanic. The first one is scheduled for 17 Oct and the second on 18 Oct. The second talk will include Ralph White, the cameraman who captured the first images of the ship. Full details are available at Titanic Belfast.
Source: Up Close And Personal With Titanic, By The Irishman Who Has Dived The Wreck Twice(2 Oct 2013, Belfast Telegraph)
3. Robert Ballard has begun an expedition to investigate major faults and underwater volcanoes in the northern and eastern Caribbean reports The Associated Press. Ballard is overseeing 31 scientists who hope the information they collect will help when natural disasters strike. Remote controlled vehicles will be used to explore the faults and underwater formations.
Source:Titanic Discoverer To Explore Caribbean Faults, Volcanoes(3 Oct 2013, WTVQ)
The violin Wallace Hartley had aboard Titanic is on display today at Titanic Belfast in the second-class accommodation suite until 13 October. This will be the last public showing of the violin as it is scheduled to be auctioned off on 19 October by auctioneers Henry Aldridge & Son. It is strongly advised you purchase admission tickets in advance.
1. Hartley Violin Update: The Hartley Violin will be going on display next in Belfast in the replica second class accommodation suite from 18 Sept – 13 Oct 2013. It is scheduled to be auctioned by Henry Aldridge & Son later in October.
Source: Violin From Titanic To Be Exhibited(2 Sep 2013,Belfast Telegraph)
3. You cannot make this up. According to This is Lincolnshire, RNLI lifeboat volunteers responded to a report three inflatable tender boats were in trouble. The found one of the boats was named Titanic and its occupants were trying to start the engine. After that failed, the group then attempted to tow the boat back to the beach as RNLI volunteers watched.
Source:Skegness RNLI Lifeboat Volunteers Involved In ‘Titanic’ Rescue(3 Sep 2013,This Is Lincolnshire.co.uk)
The Hartley Violin scheduled to end its exhibition at Titanic Branson on 15 Aug has been extended to 7 Sep 2013. According to KMOX news, 18,000 people have seen the violin already. Reservations are required for the daily VIP tour at 8:30 a.m. Further information can be found at titanicbranson.com.
The Hartley Violin, the one Wallace Hartley possibly played on that fateful voyage, is on its American tour. Right now it is at Titanic Pigeon Forge through 27 Jul. Then goes over to Titanic Branson where it will be on display in August 1-15. Reservations are required and there is a daily vip tour (limited to 25 people). Usually they prohibit any cameras or videos of items exhibited but they are allowing people attending to take photos of the violin.
BBC News is reporting that the Hartley violin–now on display in the United States–underwent a CT scan at BMI Ridgeway Hospital in Wiltshire. A 3D image was made to examine the violin from the inside. Astrid Little, the hospital’s imaging manager said: “The scan revealed that the original wood was cracked and showed signs of possible restoration.” The auction house of Henry Aldridge & Son believes this and other things proves it was Wallace Hartley’s violin.
He counters Titanic author Daniel Butler, who claims the violin glue would have come apart due to exposure to salt water, by saying the glue used was animal glue. Such glue melts when heated but not when cold, says Aldridge.