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Titanic struggle to prove violin’s authenticity resolved

Instrument thought to have been played by the band leader on the Titanic as the ship sank declared genuine

The violin thought to have been played by the band leader on the Titanic as the ship sank has been declared genuine following a computerised scan at a hospital.

Radiographers at BMI The Ridgeway Hospital in Wiltshire took a 3D image of the violin to examine it from the inside, which Andrew Aldridge from the auction house Henry Aldridge and Son said proved the violin was on the ship “beyond reasonable doubt”.

“The fine detail of the scan meant the auctioneers could examine the construction, interior and the glue holding the instrument together,” said the hospital’s imaging manager, Astrid Little.

The auction house was approached by the violin’s owner, who wanted to sell it, in 2006. Newspaper archivists, jewellery experts and forensic scientists spent the next seven years trying to authenticate the instrument, but to no avail.

The violin belonged to Wallace Hartley, who famously continued to play with his orchestra as the ship sank on its maiden voyage from Southampton in 1912. He and the other members were among the 1,517 who died, but it is claimed the violin was found strapped to Hartley’s floating body and returned to his fiancée.

Although deposits of salt water were found on its bodywork, the instrument was protected by a heavy leather bag and didn’t come into direct contact with the water.