It is Titanic authors week at Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The 7 day booksigning event will allow museum visitors to meet authors, have photos taken with them, and purchase books. The event is being held in the parking lot from 10am-5pm each day. It is free to attend and purchase of books will give a discount on museum admittance. The youngest author is Luke Copas, age 11, who wrote Facts For Kids About The Titanic.
Other noted authors to be present are Daniel Allen Butler, Bruce M. Caplan, Kristen Iversen, Tammy S. Knox, Yvonne Lehman, June Hall McCash, Lee W. Merideth, Ken Rossignol, Julie Hedgepeth Williams,and Allan Wolf.
Titanic author Daniel Allan Butler is challenging the Hartley violin authenticated by auctioneer Henry Aldridge & Son. The violin was purportedly used by Hartley aboard Titanic and was found strapped on his body. However the records indicate no such violin was found attached to his body. A written note by his fiancee seems to confirm it was given to her by Nova Scotia officials. Now either they scrubbed the violin entry (a possibility) or the violin was not found on his person. Aldridge claims that experts have confirmed the violin was stained from exposure to water, that its wood and construction conform to the time period, and that the metal inscription on the back is authentic. Butler consulted his own experts who examined the pictures and gave their opinions as to whether a violin would stand ten days in cold North Atlantic waters.
All three were unanimous in affirming that, given the sensitive nature of the finish used on violins, ANY exposure to sea water, even less than total immersion, would have left visible damage to the finish, in the form of a gray “fogging” of the finish where water actually came into contact with the instrument. All three were equally firm in asserting that ten days exposure to the general dampness of the Atlantic Ocean, even aside from any immersion the violin may have experienced, would have resulted in the glue holding the instrument together failing as it returned to its liquid state. All three were categorical in stating that the violin as presented and depicted in the photographs supplied by Henry Aldridge & Son could NOT be an instrument that survived the events which the alleged provenance of the so-called “Hartley violin” is said to have survived.
Butler’s violin consultants were Timothy Jansma, Steve Reiley, and Ken Amundson (with their websites noted for reference) and all have many years in the violin business. Amundson adds further that a violin with water damage needs significant repair work and that it would likely be found in large parts rather than as one piece. He also believes the violin at issue was likely a gift and never used by Hartley. The reason? The metal plate diminishes the sound and he would use a high end violin while performing.
This instrument that is represented in the story line, is most certainly in my opinion a wide grained German instrument from the time period in question, that shows very little skill in the carving and general make-up. Every violin shop has a few of these laying around that probably won’t ever reach their retail rack out of concern for their professional reputation. This man Wallace Hartley would have likely been playing on a fine Italian, French or even a much better German violin, than what is represented in these so-called facts put out by the people representing it. (Amundson)
So the violin was likely Hartley’s but not the one used on Titanic. Butler raises some important points about the violin but the caution is that none of them have examined it. However the point about the possible effects of water on the violin indicates it would not survive intact or possibly at all. What remains to be seen is whether Aldridge will disclose the names of experts who examined the violin. So far, that has not happened. And outside experts will be needed to take a look at the violin and the supporting evidence to see if it matches up.
To my mind, this now goes into the unproven category. Not saying it is a fraud but want more definitive evidence of its authenticity before I place in the authentic category. Other Titanic experts are likely thinking the same as well.
Two issues split the Titanic camp into warring factions: salvage and the Californian issue. The latter issue involves the role of Captain Stanley Lord of the SS California. On the night Titanic went down in 1912, his ship was in the vicinity. Due to the ice on the ocean, he had decided to shut down and wait till morning to proceed. His wireless operator had gone to bed and while rockets were spotted he did not believe it was a distress signal. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Captain Lord came under fire for failing to act. It was something that would haunt him for the rest of his life.
The two camps, the Lordites (pro-Lord) and the anti-Lordites (against Lord) have very different perspectives on the role of Captain Lord. The Lordites argue that the enquiries were hasty and a rush to judgment. The anti-Lordites argue the enquiries got it right, that Lord failed to act when the rockets were sighted. Now comes a new book that will likely reignite the debate. Daniel Allen Butler’s The Other Side of Night, according to the Scotsman makes a startling claim that Captain Lord was a sociopath. According to the article, Butler had commissioned a series of clinical psychologists to examine Lord’s sworn testimony as well as reports of his actions both before and after the tragedy.
“White rockets meant that somebody, somewhere, was about to die, yet Lord choose to ignore them. What has remained unexplained for more than nine decades is why Lord would so callously choose to disregard such a plea for help. “The answer, which lies in medical science, is that Stanley Lord was a man without conscience: he was a sociopath.”
The article notes that there were allegations that the officers under Lord were coerced to testify to support his position and that the ship’s log, which would have proved the exact location of the California, disappeared. And Butler argues Lord’s story changed over time while others stayed the same. Add to allegations he falisified entries in the logbook and the fact he expressed no sympathy for the victims over the years lends credence, Butler argues, that Lord was a sociopathic personality.
Well that is surely going to get those who support Lord fuming and dashing to their keyboards to type out responses. As for the book, I have not read it so I cannot say whether it is good, bad, or just okay. However relying on psychologists to render an opinion about a historical person is dubious. There was a trend in history many years ago to apply the techniques of psychology to historical figures. The problem is that you do not have the person right there so that you can make a proper clinical analysis. In the case of historical figures you have to rely on what was written about them or what they wrote about themselves. Certainly you can gain insights but it is far from a proper analysis or even a diagnosis. Without the person right there it is difficult to render a truly objective opinion as to what the true mental state was.