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Rose Mary
By Rosemary McKittrick
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Cast-bronze house flag and name board from Titanic’s lifeboat; 14 inches by 17 inches sold for $72,000. Photo courtesy of Christie's.
She was “unsinkable” and somehow she sank.

To add insult to injury the largest vessel in the world went down on her maiden voyage with a passenger list of some of the richest and most powerful people in the world.

Other ships sunk. Other tragedies happened. Why does the Titanic stand out?

“The event which not only made the world rub its eyes and awake, but woke it with a start...To my mind the world of today awoke April 15, 1912." said Titanic survivor, John Thayer.

The Titanic is the classic tale of man trying to rule nature and coming up short.

Little thought was given to how a ship, 852 feet in length, might turn in an emergency to avoid an iceberg. Sufficient life boats also became a moot point with a steamer that simply couldn’t sink.

Seven different iceberg warnings came that day. Captain E.J. Smith ignored six.

Titanic survivor, Dr. Washington Dodge, broke down when he spoke of the cries of those who were drowning.

At first, “no one in our boat had any idea the ship was in danger of sinking,” he said.

Many passengers were so confident the ship couldn’t sink they took their chances with the steamer rather than climb aboard a lifeboat.

“With the disappearance of the steamer a great sense of loneliness and depression seemed to take possession of those in our boat,” Dodge said. “Few words were spoken. I heard the remark: ‘This is no joke; we may knock about here days before we are picked up, if at all.' And the hours between this and daylight were spent in ceaselessly scanning the ocean for some sign of a steamer's light.”

Titanic carried 20 lifeboats, enough for 1178 people. The ship was designed to carry 32 but the number was reduced to 20 because it was felt the deck would be too cluttered. In all, there were 2, 358 passengers and crew aboard Titanic.

The human cargo that went into the sea that day didn’t drown, they froze to death. The Inspector General of the Federal Steamboat Inspection Service expressed the opinion that the Titanic struck the berg with such violence the impact, "buckled her to pieces.”

In an eerily-interesting way, artifacts from the infamous Titanic command attention and cash now at auction. Take for example the lifeboats.

Lifeboats from the Titanic were identified with name boards posted on each side of the bow. The name S.S. Titanic and the house flags were displayed on the port side. The name and port of call showed up on the starboard side.

A 14 inch by 17 inch painted, cast-bronze house flag and name board from one of Titanic’s lifeboats sold recently at auction for $72,000. A 10 inch by 18 inch painted, cast-bronze name board and port sign brought $60,000.

Historical importance and rarity is a great mix at auction.

On June 1, 2006, Christie’s, New York, featured a selection of Titanic artifacts in its Ocean Liner Furnishings and Art auction. Here are some current values for other Titanic items sold in the auction.


Titanic Model; displayed on four brass posts and mahogany base; 11 1/2 inches by 35 1/4 inches; $1,680.

Sculpture; bas-relief; Captain E.J. Smith; circa 1915; 12 1/2 inches by 8 3/4 inches; $6,240.

Carpathia Medal, Discharge Book, Match Holder; from John McElroy sailor on rescue ship; $10,200.

Facing Slip; marked mail going to New York; recovered from body of postal clerk Oscar Woody; stamped with his name; postmarked Titanic; 5 inches by 3 1/8 inches; $14,400.

Layout Plan; First Class accommodations for Titanic; December 1911; 29 1/4 inches by 41 1/2 inches; $21,600.

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