Violin 'that was played as Titanic sank' fetches £900,000 record price

Violin is believed to be the instrument Wallace Hartley lead his fellow musicians in playing as the ship sank

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The Independent Online

The violin many believe was played by the Titanic's band master as the doomed ship sank sold for a record breaking £900,000 today to a private bidder. 

A reserve price of between £200,000 and £300,000 had been placed on the instrument when it went on auction in Devizes, Wiltshire.

The violin has become a part of the ill-fated liners legacy after Wallace Hartley led his fellow musicians in playing as the ship went under, most famously the hymn 'Nearer My God To Thee'.

It had been given as a gift to Hartley by his fiancee Maria Robinson to commemorate their engagement.

Hartley and his seven fellow band members all died in the tragedy in 1912, in which 1,500 people were killed after the ship hit an iceberg.

The violin was found strapped to Hartley's body in a case when it was recovered from the ship. After the initial discovery, its whereabouts were unknown until it was discovered in a Yorkshire attic in 2006.

Authenticating the instrument has taken Devizes auction house, Henry Aldridge & Son, seven years and required the help of several experts. 

The violin has been on exhibition since May at Titanic Branson and Titanic Pigeon Forge in the United States, the largest Titanic museums in the world, before being moved to the Titanic Belfast, an award winning visitor attraction in Northern Ireland.

Earlier this week, Andrew Aldridge, a valuer with the auctioneer, took the violin to Mr Hartley's hometown of Dewsbury, Yorkshire.

Laughter broke out in the room when principal auctioneer Alan Aldridge started bidding at £50.00 to allow two of his friends to bid, according to the Press Association.

An engraving from Wallace Hertley's fiance, Maria Robinson, on Titanic band leader Mr Hartley's Violin, who many say played as the ship sank


There were gasps from the audience as the price reached £350,000 and then raced to £600,000. The room fell silent when bidding hit £750,000, and within ten minutes the violin had been sold for £900,000 after a fierce battle between two telephone bidders.

The sale broke the record previously set by a 32-foot plan of the Titanic used during the inquiry after the tragedy. It was sold it auction for £220,000 two years ago.