The RMS Titanic set sail from Southampton on April 10, 1912. Scheduled to make a triumphant arrival in New York City, the ship never arrived at her destination, famously colliding with an iceberg and sinking. More than 1,500 passengers and crew lost their lives in the tragedy, which was one of the deadliest marine disasters of all time.
Over a century later, the story of the Titanic still piques the curiosity of people from all over the globe, with some wealthy collectors willing to pay huge fees for artifacts and memorabilia from the doomed ship.
The latest example of these historical items to fetch a huge fee at auction is a silver brandy flask. It was owned by one Edward Kent, a first-class passenger who sadly perished when the Titanic sank.
As reported by the BBC, the flask’s original owner, a woman named Helen Churchill Candee, was also on board and gave the flask to Kent, stating “You stand a better chance of living than I.” As fate would have it, while Kent died, Churchill Candee was actually one of the survivors of the disaster.
The flask is engraved with the original owner’s family motto — “Faithful but Unfortunate” — and was recovered along with Mr Kent’s body in the wake of the accident.
As CNN reports, the flask was given to Mr Kent’s widow, who decided to return it to the Churchill Candee family. She wrote an accompanying later to explain what had happened and apologized for the “out of shape” nature of the flask.
The flask was recently placed up for auction. It was described by appraisers at UK-based Henry Aldridge & Son, one of the leading auction houses for Titanic objects, as “one of the most powerful and emotive three-dimensional objects from the Titanic ever offered for auction”.
Andrew Aldridge, the auctioneer in charge of the sale, examined the flask before the auction and estimated that it could raise between $80,000 and $100,000, with the power and significance of the item predicted to make it a big hit with auction-goers.
In the end, the flask sold for just under $100,000 (£76,000), so Aldridge’s estimation was very accurate. Clearly, collectors are willing to pay top dollar for such prestigious and one-of-a-kind pieces.
The sinking of the Titanic was a hugely significant moment in human history, being famously depicted in one of the most successful films of all time: James Cameron’s 1997 epic starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, which won an unprecedented total of 11 Academy Awards.
CNN also reports that many bidders vied for the flask, including several international buyers placing bids online and over the phone. In the end, an anonymous private buyer from the United Kingdom won the lot.
Other Titanic items sold alongside the flask included a lifeboat plaque, which went for roughly $59,000 (£45,000), and a sublime silk postcard, which fetched close to $50,000 (£38,000).
As previously stated, there’s a lot of interest in Titanic memorabilia, with collectors willing to spend huge amounts on individual items retrieved from the sunken ship. Henry Aldridge & Son host two specialist Titanic-based auctions each year.
The item that sold for the highest price was a Wallace Hartley violin, which sold in 2013 for $1.4 million. It was believed that this violin was played by the on-board band who played in attempt to calm down the frantic passengers as the ship started to sink and it became clear that not everyone would be making it out alive.