One of the greatest tragedies to occur at sea happened on April 15th in 1912: the sinking of esteemed luxury passenger liner the RMS Titanic. The Titanic was one of the most magnificent ships of its time, and still would be to this day. As the Titanic was a very prestigious ship, so were much of the possessions and things on it, that have sold at auction for hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars. The high value for these items only confirms the significance of that event.
Even more shocking about the sinking was that the Titanic was deemed to be unsinkable by its designers and constructors. This was only partly true; the Titanic was capable of still floating, even while four of its compartments were completely flooded. But on the night of April 14th 1912, the Titanic collided with the infamous iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean that ripped open five of the compartments, and water flowed inside relentlessly. In other words, the great vessel was doomed the moment it hit the iceberg, and this was confirmed as soon as the fifth compartment began to flood with water. Since there were not enough lifeboats to even hold half of the people on board, over fifteen hundred people died in the disaster.
Much of the memorabilia that we will look at here sold on April 15th, 2012, the one hundred year anniversary of the Titanic sinking. This memorabilia is also rare and expensive all on its own, regardless of whether it was a part of the Titanic sinking. But because it was a part of the sinking, the value of these items skyrocketed immensely. Without any further ado, here are the ten most expensive Titanic memorabilia sold at auction.
10. Captain Edward John Smith Cigar Box – $40,000
Edward John Smith was the Captain of the Titanic. This item was auctioned off in 2012, in Liverpool, Great Britain. It is widely regarded to be one of the rarest finds of the Titanic, and there are probably very few cigar boxes in history that would sell for forty thousand dollars. This cigar box was highly sought after. It was designed to hold forty of the highest quality Havana cigars within it, and was made out of camphor wood, engraved with the initials of Captain Edward John Smith.
9. First Deck Plan – $49,000
This plan for the Titanic sold for just over $49,000 at auction in the United Kingdom. This is currently one of only three known Titanic deck plans that are known to exist. It was given to a couple who boarded the Titanic when it first disembarked from the United Kingdom.
8. Life Jacket – $55,000
This life jacket was discovered at the wreckage site of the Titanic, by a member of a search party who was sent to search for casualties and anything else at the wreckage site. The jacket is not in good condition at all, being torn apart and stained with oil and blood and yet, it still managed to sell for $55,000. If anybody can find a life jacket, old or new, and in any condition, that could sell for more than fifty-five grand, they just might make it into the record books. Not only is this most likely the most expensive life jacket to be ever sold at auction, it’s also among the most expensive Titanic memorabilia ever sold as well. It’s unknown how this life jacket was torn off of the individual who originally had it, but it most likely happened while the individual jumped off the titanic and into the sea. All in all, there are only six Titanic life jackets that are still in existence, and each one is extremely valuable. Another of the life jackets is currently on display at a museum in Massachusetts, USA.
7. Photo Archive – $100,000
Many images were taken in the middle of that disastrous night on the Titanic, but one of the most striking is a photo of the iceberg that was believed to have struck the Titanic. This particular iceberg had red paint smeared alongside the bottom of it from the red paint on the Titanic’s hull, which is why many people suspect that this was the iceberg that caused the tragedy. It is also the only photo of that iceberg in existence and was taken just mere days after the tragedy, and sold in 2012 for just over $100,000, making it also one of the most expensive photographs ever sold of all time.
6. Menu – $125,000
This menu for the last meal that was ever served in the Titanic was auctioned off for just under $125,000. The menu was actually not discovered from the site of the wreckage but from a survivor who had the menu stored in her handbag. The menu is dated April 14, 1912.
5. Cabin Master Keys – $138,000
These keys were the master keys owned by a first class steward, named Edmund Stone, for a series of cabins. Stone perished along with the fifteen hundred others during the sinking, but the keys were recovered off of his body later, and returned to his wife back in the United Kingdom. They were auctioned off for just a little over $138,000, in 2008.
4. Crow’s Nest Keys – $147,000
These crow’s nest keys fetched even more at auction than the cabin’s mater keys, at approximately $147,000. The key was left behind in the ship and opened a box that held a pair of binoculars inside of it, that the lookout used to scan the ocean from the crow’s nest.
3. Steward’s Pocket Watch – $154,000
This pocket watch was also owned by Edmund Stone, the first class steward who also owned the master keys to the first class cabin. This watch is unique because the hands on the watch stopped at exactly 2:16, meaning that was also the same moment that Edmund Stone was sent into the frigid Atlantic waters. It was sold at auction in 2008, for $154,000 and it set a record price for Titanic memorabilia to be sold.
2. Ship Plan – $362,000
This ship plan to the Titanic measures thirty-two feet long and sold for just under $362,000 in the United Kingdom. It was built by a Naval Architect at the White Star Line, and even though it isn’t the most expensive out of all of the memorabilia on this list, it is considered to be the most important.
1. Diamond Bracelet Collection – $200 million
This is not one single piece of memorabilia, but rather a collection that when added up, all sold for around two hundred million dollars. There were very many wealthy and famous people on board the Titanic, and with them came rare, valuable pieces of jewelry. Many of these precious jewels were recovered at the site of the wreck, and were the highlight of many of the auction events. The most impressive piece out of the collection was a diamond bracelet, which belonged to one of the deceased passengers of the tragedy and was recovered by an expedition team in 1987; two years after the remains of the Titanic were first discovered at the bottom of the sea. The diamond bracelet has the name “Amy” engraved upon it. There were only two passengers with the name of Amy on the Titanic, so it’s assumed that the diamond bracelet belonged to one of them.