Belfast Telegraph

Gift from Titanic 'coward' to rescuer could make £60k

By Gillian Halliday

A gold cigarette case given as a gift to a man who helped a high-society couple after they fled the foundering Titanic is expected to fetch £60,000 when it comes up for auction next month.

Prominent Scottish landowner Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon and his wife Lady Lucile escaped the passenger liner that sank after hitting an iceberg on April 15, 1912 during her maiden voyage.

Their lifeboat was found by the RMS Carpathia, which came to rescue of survivors, and they were helped on board by Ernest Brown.

His gesture of kindness was later repaid by Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff-Gordon, who gave him the cigarette case, made by Asprey, inscribed with a personalised message.

It is now expected to reach tens of thousands of pounds when it is sold by Hansons Auctioneers in Derbyshire on September 28.

Auction house owner Charles Hanson said the item is not only a link to a tragedy that claimed the lives of more than 1,500 people, but also of the widely-reported scandal of the time that Sir Cosmo, ignoring the women and children first protocol, had "bought" his way off the liner by giving crew members £5 each.

It was compounded by the fact that the lifeboat - designed to hold 40 people - only had 12 on board. Although he later insisted the money was a gesture of goodwill, he was tainted by it for ever.

He and his wife both passed away in the 1930s.

Regardless of the circumstances of their escape, however, they never forgot the actions of Mr Brown, explained Mr Hanson.

"This cigarette case in its own right is a wonderful object but its provenance sends its importance soaring to titanic heights," he said.

"Its auction estimate is £40,000 to £60,000. Titanic collectors all over the world may well be interested in bidding for this."

Belfast Telegraph

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