A Titanic survivor’s walking stick, with an electric light she used to signal for help from a lifeboat, is one of thousands of maritime items that will be auctioned in the US.
Guernsey’s auction house is holding the sale at the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport, Rhode Island, at the end of July.
Most didn't know it had survived. The family didn't do anything to promote it, so it's a very exciting discoveryArlan Ettinger, Guernsey's auction house president
Guernsey’s president Arlan Ettinger described Ella White’s cane as one of the most extraordinary items to have survived the sinking.
“It’s a fabled object and Titanic enthusiasts have certainly heard of it,” he said.
“Most didn’t know it had survived. The family didn’t do anything to promote it, so it’s a very exciting discovery.”
The walking stick was consigned to Guernsey’s by the Williams family in Milford, Connecticut.
Brad Williams said his grandmother was Ms White’s niece and cared for her affairs before she died in 1942 at the age of 85, then took possession of the walking stick. It was passed on to Mr Williams’ mother, then to him.
Mr Williams, a 59-year-old cane collector, kept it in an umbrella stand with about 35 other canes. He said he wants it to go to a home where it will be better displayed, and use the proceeds for his children.
It’s obviously the most famous cane in the collection, he said.
“It’s family history so I do have trepidation about parting with it, but I also have to pay for college,” said Mr Williams, who runs a boat repair business in Connecticut.
The pre-auction estimate is between 300,000 US dollars (£238,000) and 500,000 US dollars (£397,000), though Mr Ettinger said it is very hard to predict what it might fetch because it is such an unprecedented artefact.
A violin played by the Titanic’s bandleader as the ship sank sold at auction in 2013 for about 1.7 million US dollars (£1.35 million).
On the night of April 14 1912, the British liner RMS Titanic collided with an iceberg in the North Atlantic and began sinking. The ship went under two hours and 40 minutes later and more than 1,500 people died.