Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Unused ticket to Titanic’s launch day that’s creating a clamour amongst collectors

The Titanic launch ticket that's going up for auction in New York
Titanic in Belfast Lough

It is a rare souvenir from a milestone event in the Titanic story — and now it could be the ticket to an absolute fortune.

A pass for the launch of the ill-fated liner in Belfast on May 31, 1911, is expected to fetch up to £45,000 when it goes under the hammer in New York next month.

The ticket, going on sale at Bonhams on Sunday, April 15 — the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking — is particularly rare because it was unused and still has its untorn stub attached.

It is among a huge range of memorabilia appearing on the market ahead of the centenary.

One piece of the actual ship raised from the seabed is being valued at up to £28m, and there are millions of pounds worth of other items circling the globe.

English auctioneer Andrew Aldridge, a recognised authority on the Titanic, said there is unprecedented interest in memorabilia from the doomed ship.

“I’m getting between 70 and 100 emails a day relating to buyers and sellers of Titanic material,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

“We have three auctions planned this year. Our first one takes place next Saturday and we have 370 items in it.”

Among the items for auction next weekend are a set of keys used by crew member Samuel Hemming on the night Titanic sank, valued at up to £60,000, and a menu from the ship’s last lunch, which may reach £100,000.

The ticket coming up for auction is numbered 193 and features the words: ‘Launch of White Star Royal Mail Triple-Screw Steamer Titanic At Belfast, Wednesday, 31st May, 1911, at 12.15pm’.

In the top right hand corner is the distinctive red and white pennant of the Titanic's owners, White Star Line.

Gregg Dietrich, marine expert at Bonhams, said to find an unused ticket was extremely rare.

“Titanic launch tickets are rare, but the one we are selling is the rarest as it is the only fully-intact ticket in existence,” he said.

“Only one or two others have come up for sale, but they were not fully intact.”

Around 100,000 people attended the launch at Harland & Wolff's shipyard at Queen's Island. But in a move away from tradition, White Star Line and Harland & Wolff did not formally name or christen the Titanic.

Many now believe that break with tradition was the beginning of the end for the ill-fated ship, which hit an iceberg on her maiden voyage and sank with the loss of 1,517 lives.

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