Violin played by bandmaster as the Titanic sank in 1912 found in musician’s attic
Item considered one of the most important relics to be recovered from the Titanic disaster
The violin that was played as the Titanic infamously sank on its maiden voyage in 1912 has been proven by researchers to be authentic after years of studies.
The Belfast Telegraph reports on the discovery of the fabled violin, and how it got handed down over the decades since the Titanic’s sinking.
In 2006, the violin was discovered in an attic before being presented to Titanic historians, researchers and auctioneers.
Initially, the discovery was thought to be too good to be true, but after seven years of testing at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars, researchers are able to definitively say that the relic was indeed played by bandmaster Wallace Hartley aboard the sinking Titanic.
Said to now be worth somewhere around six figures, the violin is set to go on public display at Belfast City Hall, near to where the Titanic was built in Northern Ireland, at the end of March.
Described by Titanic experts as the most important artifact to come from the disaster, negotiations are also in process to bring the violin to exhibitions around the world including the US. However, it is likely to be auctioned off in the future.
Almost all modern accounts in either film or book of the sinking of the Titanic include the story of Wallace Hartley and his band who were summoned within moments of the ship’s collision with an iceberg to play music on deck to keep passengers calm.
Hartley and his band played until the very final moments of the ship’s sinking, famously closing out with the hymn ‘Nearer, My God, To Thee.’ Hartley and the seven members of his band perished in the tragedy along with another 1500 passengers aboard the Titanic.
As tests were conducted on the violin discovered in 2006, specialist Titanic auctioneers Henry Aldridge and Son, and a biographer on Wallace Hartley, meticulously researched the story behind it to discover the actual history of the violin.
The research came to discover that Hartley had actually strapped around him his large leather valise - luggage case - in which he placed his violin moments before the sinking. It’s presumed that Hartley did so in order to help keep him afloat.
Further aiding in their research, the transcript of a telegram sent to the Provincial Secretary of Nova Scotia dated July 19, 1912 was found in the diary of Hartley’s grieving fiance, Maria Robinson.
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 fiance's violin."
Robinson had given Hartley the violin as a marker for their engagement in 1910 and had it inscribed, 'For Wallace on the occasion of our engagement from Maria,’ which would later serve as an integral piece in the research of the history of the violin.
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