"The silver fish plate on the violin along with the other items it was with, such as the leather case with Hartley's initials on, his jewellery and covering letter to the owner's late mother, suggested it was either authentic or an extremely elaborate hoax up there with the Hitler Diaries.”
"We knew we would have to look into it and it couldn't be rushed. Everything needed to be researched properly and the correct experts had to be commissioned.
"We have spent the last seven years gathering the evidence together and have now reached the stage where we can say that beyond reasonable doubt this was Wallace Hartley's violin on the Titanic.
"It is the most important artefact relating to the Titanic to ever emerge and probably the most valuable.
"In all the books and films made about the Titanic, Wallace Hartley is always featured as playing this violin until the end. We now know that minutes before the end he placed his beloved violin in this hard-wearing travelling case.
"The bag rested on top of his lifejacket and would have largely been kept out of the water. A letter from his mother was found in his breast pocket and that suffered hardly any water damage."
Craig Sopin, a lawyer in Philadelphia, is owner of one of the world’s largest collections of Titanic memorabilia, and he already has his eyes set on the Hartley violin.
"The research has shown that this is something that I would like to have in my collection, which means I believe it to be 100 percent genuine.
"As far as Titanic memorabilia is concerned it is the most important piece that has ever come up and that includes artefacts recovered from the seabed such as the crow's nest bell."
Some items of Hartley's jewelry, including the cigarette case, will be sold at auction in Devizes next month while the violin will be exhibited.
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