'Last' Titanic letter fetches £119k
The last letter known to be written on the ill-fated Titanic sold for a world record £119,000 at auction today.
The letter was penned by second class passenger Esther Hart just hours before the liner struck an iceberg on Sunday April 14, 1912.
The £119,000 price tag shattered the previous record for a Titanic-related letter, which had stood at £94,000, auctioneers said.
The letter, headed On board 'Titanic' and written on Titanic stationery, comes complete with an envelope embossed with the White Star Line flag.
In the letter Mrs Hart, who was travelling with her daughter and well-known survivor Eva Hart, talks about being ill while on board the New York-bound liner.
Mrs Hart writes: "My Dear ones all. As you see it is Sunday afternoon and we are resting in the library after luncheon.
"I was very bad all day yesterday could not eat or drink and sick all the while, but today I have got over it."
She goes on to describe how she had been to a church service with Eva and to talk about the trip so far.
"Tho they say this Ship does not roll on account of its size. Any how it rolls enough for me, I shall never forget it. It is very nice weather but awfully windy and cold," she writes.
"They say we may get into New York Tuesday night but we are really due early Wednesday morning, shall write as soon as we get there."
The letter was due to be delivered to Mrs Hart's mother in Essex when the ship returned to Southampton, but the tragedy meant it was never sent.
Some 1,500 passengers and crew lost their lives in the tragedy, including Mrs Hart's husband Benjamin.
Mrs Hart and Eva were among those rescued by HMS Carpathia.
Andrew Aldridge, from Henry Aldridge and Son Auctioneers in Devizes, Wiltshire, said: "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.
"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."
Other records were broken when more than 200 lots were sold to mark the 102nd anniversary of the loss of the ship.
A second class breakfast menu, which is only one of a handful to have survived, sold for £87,000 - beating the previous £74,000 menu record.
The menus doubled up as postcards giving the owner an opportunity to send a message to a friend or loved one from the largest and most famous liner in the world at that time.
An extremely rare VIP ticket for the launch of Titanic in Belfast on May 31st 1911 sold for £40,000, which was another record.
The ticket, which still retains its perforated stub, belonged to Captain Alexander Matier who was unable to attend the launch.
An insurance claim form detailing attempts by the most senior officer to survive the disaster to downplay the iceberg collision went for £9,000.
The unpublished four-page legal-sized form secured the ship's owner White Star Line a £3 million payout from insurers.