Titanic letter goes under the hammer for £119k in Devizes
The only known letter to have been written on board the Titanic on the day the liner struck an iceberg sold for £119,000 when auctioned in Devizes today.
Written by survivor Esther Hart, but never sent, the letter had been intended to be delivered to Mrs Hart's mother in Chadwell Heath in Essex at the end of what would have been the Titanic's return journey to Southampton in April 1912.
The night the letter was written - Sunday, April 14, 1912 - the New York-bound Titanic struck an iceberg before later sinking with the loss of more than 1,500 lives, including that of Esther Hart's husband, Benjamin.
Mrs Hart and her seven-year-old daughter, Eva, were among those rescued, with Eva living until 1996 and becoming one of the most-celebrated of the Titanic survivors.
The letter, and its envelope, were acquired around 20 years ago by a man who passed it on to Henry Aldridge & Son auctioneers of Devizes, with the letter coming under the hammer at the company’s sale of Titanic memorabilia today.
The letter only survived because it was in the pocket of Mrs Hart's husband's coat which he gave her to keep warm.
Mrs Hart wrote that they were enjoying what she called the "wonderful' journey".
She said they were likely to arrive in New York early because of the speed the ship was doing.
A menu from the day of the disaster was auctioned by Henry Aldridge & Son of Devizes for £76,000, while a violin played as the ship sank went for £900,000.
Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said: "It's very rare because it's a letter that's written on board Titanic, which makes it exceptional.
"But what rises it to the absolute top of the pile is it's the only letter known that was written on Sunday 14 April, so the day the ship hit the iceberg.
"So we can say with absolute certainty that about 12 hours after this letter was written the Titanic was at the bottom of the North Atlantic."
The letter, embossed with the White Star Line flag, is headed "On Board RMS Titanic" and dated "Sunday afternoon".
In it, Mrs Hart describes being sick the day before and unable to eat or drink.
The Titanic sank on the fifth day of its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.