London, April 22 (IANS/EFE) A letter from the leader of the band that continued playing as the Titanic sank in the Atlantic Ocean was sold at auction for 93,000 pounds ($141,600), a spokesman for auction house Henry Aldridge & Son told EFE.
Wallace Hartley’s letter to his parents was written April 10, 1912, the day the ship sailed from Southampton, England, for the US.
The Titanic sank miles off the Canadian coast on the morning of April 15, 1912, about two hours after hitting an iceberg that ripped open its forward hull.
Of the 2,200 passengers and crew on board the vessel, only 710 were able to board lifeboats and get away from the huge ship, which the White Star Line had touted as “unsinkable”, before it went to the bottom of the frigid North Atlantic.
The letter was sold to a private collector, Henry Aldridge & Son said.
Hartley wrote the letter on White Star Line letterhead and mailed it from Ireland, where the ship made its first stop before setting off across the Atlantic.
“Just a line to say we have got away all right. It’s been a bit of a rush but I am just getting a little settled,” Hartley wrote. “This is a fine ship & there ought to be plenty of money on her.”
Hartley and the other musicians hoped that the tips would be generous on the luxury liner, the auction house’s owner, Andrew Aldridge, said.
“I’ve missed coming home very much & it would have been nice to have seen you all if only for an hour or two, but I couldn’t manage it,” the 33-year-old Hartley wrote.
There is nothing to indicate that Hartley wrote any other letters aboard the Titanic, Aldridge said.
Hartley and the seven musicians in the band have been featured in all the books and films made about the shipwreck.
The bandleader, who was born June 2, 1878, was a second-class passenger and died in the sinking.
Hartley’s body was recovered almost two weeks after the sinking by the Mackay-Bennett, which assigned it the number 224.
The bandleader was buried in his hometown of Colne in the north of England, the auction house said.