08 March 2012
100 years have now passed since her sinking but the memory of Titanic still lives on. Claire Packer takes a look at collectables and memorabilia associated with this magnificent ship. ...
Constructed at the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ireland, Titanic was, on her maiden voyage, the largest vessel afloat. She departed the White Star Dock, Southampton, on 10th April 1912. Just five days later, at 2.20am, she would begin her descent to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean.
Titanic’s story begins with J Bruce Ismay, chairman of White Star Line and president of the International Mercantile Marine Company, and Lord Pirrie, chairman of Harland & Wolff. Together they dreamt of a new class of ship to rival Cunard Line’s new luxury liner, the Lusitania. The design of the Olympic class fell to Thomas Andrews along with Lord Pirrie, Edward Wilding and Alexander M Carlisle.Titanic was the second of White Star Line’s Olympic Class liners, the first being Olympic. Britannic completed the trio in 1914.
Titanic’s figures were quite astounding: she had an overall length of 882ft 9in and a gross tonnage of 46,328. Steam for her huge engines was generated by 29 boilers, and fed by 159 furnaces.
After her fatal collision with an iceberg in the early hours of 15th April 1912, she would remain undiscovered at the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean for 73 years. She was finally discovered by Dr Robert Ballard in September 1985.
The memory lives on
Memorabilia from the Titanic has been sold through auction for many years. In the UK, Henry Aldridge & Son is one of the premier auctioneers in the sale of Titanic and White Star Line material. Lots that have gone under the hammer include an E Deck key, which sold for £60,000; a rare launch ticket that sold for £33,000; an On-board Menu that sold for £27,000; and a souvenir pin cushion bought onboard the Titanic, which sold for £19,000.
In June 2011, Special Auction Services sold three Titanic-related postcards for £65 against an estimate of £40-60. In unused condition, the postcards featured Titanic in the ocean along with two song cards, ‘Nearer My God to Thee’, each showing the Titanic sinking.
Items sold by Mellors & Kirk include a collection of over 340 covers and postcards signed by survivors of the disaster. The collection sold for £5,000 against an estimate of £500-1,000 in September 2009.
In January 2010, Fieldings put an early 20th century Titanic memorial postcard depicting Capt Smith and wireless operator John Phillips either side of the ship, postmark for 28th May 1912, under the hammer: it sold for £120.
For your collection
If you can’t stretch to the high figures that Titanic memorabilia commands at auction, there are many other collectables on the market that you can buy. If you’re a modeller there are a number of kits available including Academy’s 1/400 Centenary Edition, priced at £99.99 (ref no 14202) which features stunning box art.
Revell released its Centenary Gift Set in 2011, which is also in 1/400 scale and is priced at £49.99 (ref no 05715). Revell also released a 2-piece gift set in 1/570 scale, priced at £26.99 (ref no 05705), and a 1/1,200 scale 40-part set that is priced at just £5.99 (ref no 05804).
Airfix has produced two kits: one in 1/700 scale and priced at £24.99 (ref no A50104) while the other is a 100th Anniversary Gift Set in 1/400 scale (ref no A50146), priced at £49.99.
Something a little smaller is the Royal Mint’s commemorative £5 coin, which was announced in February. The design shows Thane, the female figure depicted in the Titanic Memorial in Belfast, looking down at the ship sailing through the Atlantic Ocean. It will be available as a £5 Brilliant Uncirculated coin mounted in a presentation folder (£12.99) and as a £5 Alderney Silver Proof coin supplied in a presentation case (£82.50).
If you prefer something cuddlier there is a selection of Titanic-related teddy bears that have been released. Measuring 15in tall and limited to just 250 pieces worldwide is Hermann Spielwaren’s Titanic Memorial Teddy Bear, which wears the uniform of Captain Edward John Smith (£265). Priced at £135 is Steiff’s black Titanic Centenary Commemorative Bear, which is 14in tall and a limited edition of 1,912 pieces.
At the time of going to press, deposits were being taken on Steiff’s Polar Titanic Bear, which will be delivered in Spring/Summer 2012. It is an interpretation of the teddy bear that accompanied its owners, Daisy Spedden and her husband, Frederic, aboard the Titanic.
Finally, there is a commemorative set of stamps from Antigua and Barbuda. The $9 value shows an image of Titanic herself, while a second sheet features four $3.50 values showing the following passengers who made the ill-fated journey: Joseph Bruce Ismay, William Stead, Benjamin Guggenheim and Thomas Andrews.
The stamp sheet has been produced by IGPC and is free in the February issue of our sister publication, Stamp & Coin Mart.
If you want to find out more about the history and build of Titanic, Haynes has some excellent books. These include Titanic: The Unfolding Story as told by the Daily Mirror (Richard Havers and Carol King), which tells the Titanic story through contemporary photographs and newspaper articles from the Daily Mirror archive. There is also one of Haynes’ famous Owners’ Workshop Manuals, which is a fascinating read and was a great help in putting this article together.
Titanic in miniature - by John Tailby
This year marks the centenary of the Titanic disaster. I have seen various books, DVDs and replicas of documents that have been produced for the 100th anniversary and back in 1997 and 1998, at least two diecast replicas were produced:
• American manufacturer Claytown Collection Inc’s RMS Titanic, which is well detailed, about 9in long and in 1/1,136 scale. The large box displays the model through a plastic top, and the lower part contains a replica First Class Passengers manifest. There is a picture of the full-size ship reproduced on the outside.
• British manufacturer Gilbow Holdings, which also produces the Exclusive First Editions range of diecast buses, released a 1/1,750 scale RMS Titanic that is approx 6in long. Although a smaller model it is in some ways more detailed with individual lifting cranes and three gold coloured propellers. These propellers were said to be a feat of British engineering at the time.
Titanic had two sister ships, Olympic and Britannic, which were also modelled by Gilbow. All three were packaged in the same way: a strong plastic display box inside a cardboard outer sleeve bearing the ship’s name. When launched, the full size ships were the biggest in the world.
Research into old Meccano magazines show that Dinky Toys had a range of famous liners in 1934. At that time, Cunard White Star’s Queen Mary was the pride of its fleet – Dinky’s pre-war model, number 52, cost 1/-. Dinky Toys’ 51 range of six ships included number 51g, Britannic, which cost 6d. The model is a bit of a mystery, however, as it seems smaller than some of the others and has only two funnels. Perhaps another ship was built bearing the same name?