Titanic's last letter fetches £119,000 at auction

Esther Hart's letter was penned mere hours before the ill-fated liner struck an iceberg and sank in the Atlantic Ocean on 14 April, 1912

The doomed vessel Titanic, which sunk on her maiden voyage more than a hundred years ago, has gripped the public imagination for the past century as a tale of human failure and tragedy.

And now the only surviving letter believed to have been written on board Titanic has sold for £119,000 at auction on Saturday.

The letter was written by survivor Esther Hart, a second class passenger who was travelling with her seven-year-old daughter Eva Hart, just hours before the Titanic struck an iceberg at 11.40pm on Sunday 14 April, 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 is written on special stationary headed “On board RMS ‘Titanic’” and comes complete with an envelope embossed with the White Star Line flag.

In the letter Mrs Hart talks about being ill while on the New York-bound liner.

She 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.”

Mrs Hart 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. 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," she writes.

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.

1,500 passengers and crew lost their lives when the ship sunk, including Mrs Hart's husband Benjamin.

Mrs Hart and Eva were among those rescued by HMS Carpathia. Eva, who died in 1996 aged 91, is a well-known Titanic survivor.

Mrs Hart later found the letter in the pocket of her husband's coat, which he had given to his wife to keep her warm as the disaster unfolded.

Andrew Aldridge, from Henry Aldridge and Son Auctioneers, had earlier said he expected the letter to fetch between £80,000 and £100,000.

He 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 went under the hammer at Henry Aldridge and Son Auctioneers in Devizes, Wiltshire, 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 31 May 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.

Additional reporting by Press Association

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence