Flotsam and jetsam to treasure: Valuable Titanic memorabilia washes up at Heritage

An actual 7 x 4 inch section from the hull of the doomed ship R.M.S. Titanic, modern history's most famous shipwreck - consigned by famous author, Hollywood consultant and deep sea archeologist Charles Pellegrino - is expected to bring $4,000+ as part of Heritage Auctions' May 21 Americana & Political Memorabilia event. A minimum of 10% from proceeds will be donated to the Firefighter's Burn Centre.

"This is the first time these relics have ever been offered," said Tom Slater, Heritage's Director of Americana, "Pellegrino, one of the world's foremost experts on the doomed ship, has chosen now to share this treasure with the world, and we expect that collectors will be clamoring for a chance to make this theirs."

The actual wreck of the Titanic is, of course, strictly protected, making portions of the ship itself virtually unavailable in the private market (and a strong investment).

Chunk of Titanic hull
The rare piece of Titanic hull

This section, however, was part of the "crackage" of the great boat, which sheared away from the vessel as it broke in half, and was recovered from the ocean floor some distance from the wreck.

A semicircular depression in one corner of the piece is evidence of the force with which the ship cracked, sufficient to pop a rivet completely away from the hull. It has become essentially fossilized after the bio-absorption.

Also included in Pellegrino's consignment is a fossil impression of rope from H. M.S. Titanic measuring 1.5" x 2", in which original rope strands became imbedded, found inside rusticle formations growing around the davit bit (the rib or buttress-like appendage from which lifeboats were suspended) that was used to lower the #8 lifeboat, expected to bring $4,000+, along with a 2.5" sample from the railing of the Titanic's "#8 Lifeboat" davit, also estimated at $4,000+.

A minimum of 10% of the proceeds of these lots will also be donated to the Firefighter's Burn Centre.

"The #8 Lifeboat railing is particularly significant," said Slater. "The Titanic's band played near this location and this is also where Mrs. Isador Strauss gave her maid, Ellen Bird, her fur coat, saying she would not be needing it, then stepping away from the boat and joining her husband behind the rail saying, 'Where you go, I go.'"

RMS Titanic lifebelt
Once invaluable, now $12,000-18,000 - RMS Titanic lifebelt

Also included in this consignment is Pellegrino's personal copy of A Night to Remember, the 1978 illustrated edition, which was carried by him on three separate expeditions to reach the wreck of the Titanic, and which actually went down to the wreck twice in submersibles, estimated at $4,000.

The May 21 auction is not the only opportunity for Titanic collectors to get their hands on exceptional memorabilia. Heritage is holding another sale, the Dallas Signature Decorative Arts & Gentleman's Auction on June 1 which offers pieces from the Malcolm Forbes collection.

R.M.S. Titanic and Olympic original souvenir life belts - the only recorded pair - will be available in that sale. The life belts depict the sister ships in hand painted panels, under full steam on choppy sea within titled, life ring borders also painted with the flags.

They are presented in a shadow box frame mounted as a pair, and expected to sell for $12,000-$18,000. Alternatively, a rare autograph from the longest-living survivor of the Titanic, Millvina Dean, is currently available.

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