Collectors Corner: Titanic Memorabilia
By Michele Alice
When White Star Line's RMS Titanic slipped beneath the icy surface of the North Atlantic in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912, it's doubtful that anyone of the period could have guessed at the hold the tragedy would have on the people of today.
Whether it was caused by an unfortunate series of random events, or was, as some believed, punishment by the fates for proclaiming Titanic "unsinkable," the tragedy took the lives of over 1,500 passengers and crew, and psychologically marked the end of the Victorian era. It also captured the imagination of untold numbers of persons in the intervening years.
Besides the innumerable magazines, postcards, lithographs, postage stamps, and books that have been produced over the decades, a plethora of products have been marketed to satisfy the public appetite for all things Titanic. These have included such diverse items as models, snow globes, commemorative plates, candy tins, and even Capt. E. J. Smith action figures! And in this Centennial anniversary of the sinking, marketing has turned from a torrent to a deluge: Would anyone care for a nice, steaming cup of RMS Titanic Tea?
Many common Titanic collectibles are available for modest sums, but some books, especially first editions of classics like Walter Lord's "A Night to Remember" (1955), are especially popular with collectors and can sell for up to several hundred dollars and more, depending on condition. (One collector recently sold an online-auction lot of 35 first editions, including the Lord book, for $29,999.90.)
Also popular are items made for the White Star Line and which may be associated with Titanic or one of her sister ships, the Olympic and the Britannic. For example, painted, porcelain egg cups bearing the White Star logo have sold for over $1,000 just because they may have been intended for service aboard the ill-fated liner.
Of course, the more valuable items have been those associated with the ship itself, like the crow's nest key that auctioned for 90,000 pounds (~$180,000) in 2007, or the First-Class luncheon menu that recently fetched 76,000 pounds (~$120,000).
Items recovered from the wreck are valued even more highly, but that source of material may have been halted when UNESCO recently designated the remains of Titanic an underwater cultural heritage site.
Titanic has become immortal.
If you'd like to learn more about this fascinating topic, check out the resources listed below.
BBC News - Last Titanic menu fetches pounds 76,000 - Link to website
BBC News - Titanic key is sold for 90,000 pounds - Link to website
Encyclopedia Titanica - Link to website - Great site offers detailed biographies, photo archives, articles, more.
Titanic Historical Society - Link to website - Great articles, links, more. Museum (Indian Orchard, Massachusetts) houses one of the finest collections of Titanic-related artifacts in the world. Members receive quarterly publication, The Titanic Commutator.
Titanic Research & Modeling Association (TRMA) - Link to website - Originally for modelers, focus is on "the engineering, construction, and operation" of Titanic. Check out the Photo Archives, Titanic Plans, and Nautical Glossary.
Titanic wreckage to be protected under UNESCO convention - Link to website - UN News Centre release about the application of the Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage to the wreck.
Nomadic Preservation Society - Link to website - Was the affair between Kate Florence Phillips and Henry Samuel Morley - and the pendant sapphire necklace he purportedly gave her - the inspiration for Cameron's "Titanic" love story? You may find the answer, and lots more, here.
White Star Memories - link to website - Has one of the largest collections of White Star Line artifacts and memorabilia available for exhibition. Check out their Forum, Videos, Collections, and Links pages.
About the author:
Michele Alice is EcommerceBytes Update Contributing Editor. Michele is a freelance writer in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. She collects books, science fiction memorabilia and more! Email her at makalice @ adelphia.net eBay ID: Malice9
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