Now that’s a Titanic price tag: Unique diagram of sunken liner used at official inquiry fetches £220,000
Last updated at 9:01 AM on 29th May 2011
- Auction price beats estimate of between £100,000 to £150,000
A plan of the Titanic used in the inquiry into the sinking of the ship in 1912 has sold for what is believed to be a world record price for memorabilia of the doomed boat.
The plan had been estimated to fetch between £100,000 and £150,000, but was bought by a private collector yesterday for £220,000. Commissioned by the British Board of Trade, the 33ft (10m) cross-section was used to assist in the 36-day inquiry.
The extraordinary plan was referred to by witnesses and experts to establish the cause of the tragedy, and even contains original chalk marks showing what happened.
Complex: A man examines the profile of the Titanic which was intended to simplify the ship so witnesses could refer to it as they gave evidence
Unique: This 32ft plan of the Titanic used in the official inquiry in 1912 is to go under the hammer and could be sold for up to £150,000
Detailed: The huge drawing used red and green chalk to indicate where ice was believed to have penetrated the ship and also used handwritten captions to explain the complexities of the ship
Disaster: The Titanic struck an iceberg on April 15, 1912 and sunk, resulting in the deaths in 1,517 people
The enormous drawing, which was mounted on linen, was so pivotal to the inquiry that it was hung in the official hearing room so that witnesses could refer to it constantly.
It played an invaluable role in the conclusion of the investigation - and the subsequent decision to fit more lifeboats for any future voyages.
The piece is so remarkable that it has been described by experts as the 'Holy Grail' of Titanic memorabilia.
The paper plan, which was drawn in Indian ink and hand-coloured, measures 32ft 6ins by 4ft 8ins and uses a scale of 3/8ins to one foot.
It is headed 'S.S. "TITANIC." PROFILE' and contains red and green chalk markings indicating where ice was believed to have penetrated five water-tight bulk heads.
It contains handwritten captions explaining the complexities of the ship, and was intended to be a simple diagram for the people at the hearing to refer to.
The diagram details all the cabins for first, second and third class passengers as well as shows where the restaurant, and cargo is kept.
TITANIC CAPTAIN'S CIGAR BOX... FOUND IN DUSTY ATTIC
The hand-drawn plan of the Titanic was prepared by White Star Line architects for the British inquiry into the sinking of the ship, just weeks after the disaster.
Participants, which included upper class passengers, used pointers throughout to illustrate which part of the ship they were talking about.
The inquiry, led by John Charles Bigham, Baron Mersey of Toxteth, began on May 2, 1912, at the London Scottish Drill Hall, Westminster, and continued until July 3.
It heard testimony from 100 witnesses over 36 days, including surviving crew, White Star Line officials, officers of other vessels and maritime experts.
In total, more than 25,000 questions were asked of the witnesses - though the enquiry was later criticised for ignoring Third Class passengers.
After the inquiry concluded that the loss of the ship had been brought about by "excessive speed", the unique plan was returned to White Star.
Since then it has been in private hands and, according to the auctioneer, had not been put on public display.
It was sold by a private collector at Henry Aldridge and Son Auctioneers in Devizes, Wiltshire.
Andrew Aldridge, of Devizes-based Henry Aldridge & Son, said: 'I am delighted with the new world record price of £220,000 for the sale of any item relating to Titanic.
'The plan is one of the most important pieces of Titanic memorabilia ever sold and this price reflects it.
'There was interest from around the world and the new owner is delighted with his purchase.'
Before the auction, Mr Aldridge had said: 'It is a magnificent and commanding piece, both visually and historically. Just the size itself is incredible.
'It is 32 foot long and designed for laymen, to show the breakdown of areas and where everything was
'It has the original red markings made during the inquiry, showing what happened according to witnesses and experts.
'Probably the most important thing to come out of the inquiry was the decision to provide lifeboats for all souls on any future voyages.
'We have sold numerous Titanic items over the years, but this is without doubt the most visually impressive.'
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