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ON COLLECTING TITANIC MEMERABILIA AND EPHEMERA


By Lawrence Lufkin
Read about Larry Lufkin

As you might already know, it is illegal to retrieve artifacts from the wreck of the RMS
Titanic and then to sell them to the public, however it is possible to collect many wonderful items, artifacts from the era, and various printed material that are highly desirable, but not easy to find. Having a strong fascination with this most famous ship since I was a child, it is invaluable to be able to access so much information relating to the disaster through the Internet.

It would be somewhat fitting to consider three types of collectors: those of first class, second class, and third class. (Remember it was said that Third Class on Titanic was like First Class on other ships!) In separating each class by what is possible to collect, we shall now begin.

FIRST CLASS COLLECTOR
In recent times there has been offered a trip down to the ocean floor to view the wreck.
After much research, I am very pleased to report that you can visit the most famous shipwreck in all of history in 2005. The cost for the July 6 thru July 18, 2005 expedition is going to be $36,650 US$, as reported to me by the operations manager of Deep Ocean Expeditions in a correspondence I received in September of this year (2004). Those that are not so adventurous are able to accompany their explorer for $4950 - which does not include a deep dive. Included is transportation to and from the dive site, which is about 375miles off the coast of Newfoundland, stateroom and meals on the Akademik Keldysh, and the two and a half mile dive down to the wreck of the Titanic. An operator and two passengers fit aboard the deep ocean submersible MIR I and MIR II. James Cameron visited the wreck in these MIR submersibles. This expedition is the only way in the world for you to visit the wreck and to pay respect to this monument of a lost era. You must also understand that you are diving to a depth of 12,460 feet below sea level. This is easily as remote a place and as dangerous as being on the moon. Much thought should occur before a decision is made to make the dive.

Deep Ocean Expeditions is the operator of the expedition and a second departure is scheduled on July 30, returning on August 8, 2005. The expeditions will depart from St.
Johns, Newfoundland, and return to same. It is the policy of this company to make respectful visits to sites of great scientific interest, triumph and tragedy, and to help support science while providing a unique and very rare opportunity for small groups of the general public to experience and explore the hidden depths. (Please e-mail me at linderhof9@rcn.com for direct contact with operations if you are interested in an expedition and dive.) I was told that should there be sufficient interest, the Keldysh will be leased for a third expedition later in August of 2005.

A number of months after James Cameron’s “Titanic” motion picture was released, the J.
Peterman Company (1318 Russell Cave Road, Lexington, Kentucky 40505-3164, Tel.
606-254-5444) featured many props from the film in their Holiday 1997 catalogue. Due to the obviously limited quantity of such items, their prices reflected their uniqueness. One of the prop anchors was for sale, as well as articles of clothing, a lifeboat, place settings, and so on. When I first learned of the company offering the props for sale, I suspected that the catalogue itself would become collectible, and immediately phoned for one. Once my copy arrived, I learned that nearly all of the props were sold out. The anchor was huge and had a price of many thousands.

A list of some of the items offered, with their 1997 prices might be of use and of interest:

Titanic Crewman’s Cap - 32 were available - $150ea.
Signed Titanic poster by Director James Cameron - 100 signed - 27 x 40 inches - $1000ea.
Evening Gown in chiffon, satin sash, antique lace, faux pearl bodice, worn by Kate Winslet - one of a kind - $11,500
Sign: NOTICE: Passengers are not allowed forward of this (pair with one reversed)
Jack Dawson Outfit, 6-button wool vest, knit cotton shirt (Dominic Gherardi - custom tailoring), cotton corduroy pants, worn by Leonardo DiCaprio - $9,500
Titanic D.O.F. Glass, used in First Class Smoking Room scene - 15 available - $150ea.
White Star Line Passenger Information Booklet reproduction -$25ea.
Titanic Ashtray used in Palm Court scenes, 1st class dining scenes, reception scenes - qty. 8 - $350ea.
Titanic Caviar Service, silver-plated footed ice bowl with glass insert - qty. 15 - $350ea.
Titanic Game Table replica used in First Class Smoking Lounge - 28” square & 28 1/2” high - qty. 8 - $1000ea.
Titanic White Star Line General Regulations Booklet, 60 pages, seen during Bridge scenes -$200ea.
Folding Leather Chair, maple with burgund leather seat, reproduction from artifact collection $795
Titanic Fluted Vase - 9 1/2” tall, used in First Class dining room - qty. 14 - $395ea.
Titanic Slatted Bench, 6’ long, used in exterior scenes on upper deck near lifeboats - qty. 18 - $2,750
Titanic Wicker Chair, wicker with cotton cushion, used in scenes in First Class Werandah Cafe and in Palm Court -qty. 20 -$650ea.
White Star Flatware silver plate(salad knife, salad fork, dinner fork, dinner knife, soup spoon, table spoon, tea spoon) with White Star logo, used in First Class dining room scenes - limitde quantity - $75 per set
Third Class Swivel Chair, oak with swivel seat, used in Third Class scenes - qty. 20 - $650ea.
Titanic Lifeboat, 28 ft. fiberglass copy of original, used during sinking scenes - qty. 6 - $25,000 ea. (Note: There were 2 wooden emergency cutters, fourteen wooden lifeboats, and four Engelhardt collapsibles on the ship.)
Titanic Burlap Mail Bag, 38” x 23” reads “Royal and U.S. Mail via Queenstown, used during sinking scenes - qty. 21 - $295ea.
Titanic Short Wool Twill Jacket, worn by cast members in dining room scenes, various sizes - qty. 22 -$650 ea. with no choice of size
Titanic Stateroom Plaque in fiberglass -$125
Titanic Anchor, fiberglass, 10 feet by 13 feet - qty. 1 - $25,000
Titanic Life Jacket, historically correct, used in sinking scenes, cotton canvas - $95

Shipping of a lifeboat or the anchor would be of major concern to most people, but not for first class collectors. Of special note was an actual deck bench that was offered for sale in Peterman’s Spring 1998 catalogue. The bench was removed from the deck along with two other benches to make room for some type of deck equipment - such as an electric winch or blower. The bench was purchased by a Peterman representative from a Vicar who had owned it for many years. the listed price in the catalogue was $188,000 US dollars.

SECOND CLASS COLLECTOR
A wonderful opportunity exists for those of moderate means to be able to acquire a wide range of fascinating items. I strongly suggest that you immediately browse on the Internet the Maritime Heritage Collection, which was a member of Harland and Wolff Holdings PLC, Queen’s Island, Belfast BT3 9DU, tel. (01232) 457040 until recently. An archival assistant for Harland and Wolff sent me a catalogue of their Maritime Heritage Collection from Belfast when I sent an e-mail back in 1999. It was interesting to note that c. 1998 H & W’s Technical Services division would make a copy of the Titanic’s blueprints. This is interesting for the reason being that the blueprints were in the scale of 1 to 12. Thusly, the length of the blueprints, which were on a roll, was stated to be ninety feet. There was not a firm price, as I recall, but I seem to remember the price being just several hundred dollars. Not having sufficient wall space to display something of that size, I did not purchase.

Today Harland and Wolff still exists and recently won a naval refurbishment contact for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in March of this year, and in June of 2004 completed fabrication and installation of two road bridges in south Dublin, which is part of the capital’s N7 transport communications system. Sad to the collector is that the company no longer maintains on their website any information about Titanic, with their core business being design engineering, structural engineering, ship repair, ship and offshore building.

Note: Should blueprints be of interest to you, Titanic Research and Modeling Company is a wonderful website to browse.

The White Star Line merged with Cunard and for a time was called the Cunard White Star Line. Today Cunard is owned by Carnival Cruise Lines, and any true collector of Titanic material should already have a copy of the inaugural cruises for 2004 of the QM2 pamphlet.

Internet access allows one to bid on a plethora of items on eBay. I have a modest collection of sheet music that was written and published in 1912 to commemorate the loss of the great liner. The sheet music often has wonderful illustrations on the cover of the sheet music folder. One can expect to pay $25 to $75 for such items.

“The Wreck and Sinking of the Titanic” by Marshall Everett and published in 1912 is a gem of a book. One will have to search on the Internet for this book or possibly your local library might have a copy - should you live in or near a large city. This book is 320 pages in length and has some illustrations, but what is so fascinating was that it was printed just months after the disaster.

THIRD CLASS COLLECTOR
The many films and books available in the mega book stores are certainly worth collecting.

One often thinks that these books will always be for sale but this is not the case. A pressrun may sell out and a second edition may be produced but this is not always the case. I have found some most interesting material at Barnes & Noble and at Borders. One can also search online at Amazon.

“Ken Marschall’s Art of Titanic” is a most desirable addition to your library. Printed in 1998 by Hyperion, this is a magnificently illustration volume of Mr. Marschall’s painting of the Titanic. He paints with such detail that you get the impression that you are looking at a hyper-detailed photograph. His work is unmatched.

He has been fascinated with the Titanic for decades and has a website that offers prints of his paintings of the ship. Please take a look, www.transatlanticdesigns.com, and you will readily want to order some of his magnificent prints.

Read Larry Lufkin Bio

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