The last letter known to be written on the Titanic, penned by second-class passenger Esther Hart just hours before the ship struck an iceberg on Sunday 14 April 1912 has been sold for £119,000 (approximately $200,000). The sale broke the previous price tag record for a Titanic-related letter, which had stood at £94,000.
The letter, headed On board ‘Titanic’ and written on the vessel’s official stationery, comes complete with an envelope embossed with the White Star Line flag. In the letter, Hart, who was travelling with her husband and daughter, Eva, talks about being ill while on board the New York-bound liner. She goes on to describe how she had been to a church service with Eva and to talk about the trip so far.
The letter was due to be delivered to Hart’s mother in Essex when the ship returned to Southampton, but because of the tragedy it was never sent. Some 1,500 passengers and crew died when the ship sunk, including Hart’s husband Benjamin. Hart and Eva were rescued by sailors from HMS Carpathia.
“The importance of this legendary item cannot be overstated, being the only known surviving example of its type to have been written on that fateful day, surviving the sinking, and having belonged to such a well-known survivor,” said Andrew Aldridge, from Henry Aldridge and Son Auctioneers in Devizes. “The letter and envelope are in remarkable condition, with an impeccable provenance, and they represent a truly unique opportunity to own the finest example of its genre in existence. It is quite simply the jewel in the crown of Titanic manuscript ephemera.”
Also going under the hammer on Saturday was a second class Titanic breakfast menu, which fetched a record-breaking $146,000. A third record was broken with the sale of a launch ticket, which fetched $67,000. One other item was four-page typed “Letter of Marine Protest” – the insurance claim form. Filled out on April 19, 1912, the day after the survivors reached New York, it contains the official account of what happened in the words of four crew members who survived. This document sold for approximately $15,000.