Top 10 most expensive items of Titanic memorabilia

Few past tragedies have had such an impact on the popular consciousness as the sinking of the Titanic.

The near-mythical grounding of the narrative, which features stories of hubris, cruelty and kindness alongside incredible bravery, has ensured its longevity in the popular consciousness.

Join us as we review the top 10 most expensive items of Titanic memorabilia ever auctioned.

10) Titanic first class deck plan - $49,308

This rare plan for the ship's first class deck made ?�33,000 ($49,308) at Henry Aldridge and Son, a Wiltshire, UK-based auctioneer specialising in Titanic memorabilia, in 2011.

It was presented to Ida and Isidor Strauss, then owners of Macy's in New York, when they boarded the doomed vessel. The lot is one of only three known to exist.

9) Adolphe Saafeld letter - $90,398

A letter written by perfumer Adolphe Saafeld to his wife while aboard the Titanic, and posted just before the ship left Southampton on April 10, 1912, made ?�55,000 ($90,398) at Henry Aldridge and Son in 2010.

Saafeld writes in approving tones regarding the ship, and his letter includes a great deal of fascinating minutiae about life aboard.

8) Titanic photo archive - $100,570

Iceberg which sank Titanic
This is allegedly a photograph of the infamous iceberg

An archive of unseen photographs of the ship made $100,570 at Philip Weiss Auctions in Long Island in 2011. The lot included a number of the aftermath of the disaster and one particularly notable example that is thought to capture the iceberg itself.

7) Master key for cabins E1-E42 - $138,062

This master key for a series of cabins was formerly the property of Edmund Stone - a first class steward. Although he died during the sinking, this key was recovered from his body and returned to his grieving widow at their home in Southampton.

It was bought by an American collector for ?�84,000 ($138,062) at Henry Aldridge in 2008.

6) Last Titanic Lunch Menu - $124,913

RMS Titanic last menu first class auction
The menu offers an insight into life aboard the vessel

The menu for the last meal ever served aboard the Titanic made ?�76,000 ($124,913) at Henry Aldridge in 2012. It was discovered in the handbag of Ruth Dodge, wife of the San Franciscan banker Dr Washington Dodge, who survived the accident - and features the date of the sinking (April 14, 1912).

5) Crow's Nest keys - $147,924

The set of Titanic Crow's Nest keys
The set of keys to a box in the crow's nest that contained binoculars

In 2007, the keys to the crow's nest made ?�90,000 ($147,924) at Henry Aldridge. A chilling illustration of the power of cause and effect, the key (which was left behind when the ship departed) unlocked a box that contained a set of binoculars - without which the lookout was forced to scan the horizon with the naked eye.

The missing key was later brought up in the inquest which followed the accident.

4) Wallace Hartley letter - $152,854

A letter written by Wallace Hartley, the ship's bandmaster, made ?�93,000 ($152,854) at Henry Aldridge in April 2013. Sent to his parents on the day the Titanic left port, it is composed on White Star Line headed paper and describes his colleagues as "a fine band".   

3) Edmund Stone's pocket watch - $154,498

Edmund Stone, the steward whose key is at number seven on this list, owned this watch. The hands remain frozen at 2:16 - the moment at which Stone was plunged into the icy waters of the Atlantic. It made ?�94,000 ($154,498) at Henry Aldridge in 2008 - then a record price for a piece of Titanic memorabilia.

2) Titanic longitudinal ship plan - $361,592

The Titanic ship plan used during the inquiry into the disaster
The plan was used during the long-running inquest

This 32 foot plan of the entire ship was used during the inquest in May 1912 and sold for ?�220,000 ($361,592) at Henry Aldridge. It was created by the Naval Architect's Department at White Star Line, and is regarded as one of the most important pieces of memorabilia relating to the tragedy.

1) Wallace Hartley's violin -$1.7m

Titanic bandleader violin auction
The violin is reportedly unplayable after its immersion in the Atlantic

Undoubtedly the most extraordinarily poignant piece of memorabilia to have sold at auction is this violin, which was allegedly discovered in a leather case attached to the body of bandleader Wallace Hartley.

As the ship was going down, Hartley famously began to play, with his band mates joining him. The last tune they played remains unknown - but legend and witness accounts have it that it was the hymn "Nearer My God to Thee".

The violin was returned to Hartley's fiancee, Maria Robinson, and ended up in a Salvation Army church after her death - whereupon it passed to its consignor. It made an impressive ?�900,000 ($1.7m) when it sold at Henry Aldridge in October 2013.

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