Rare lot offering 'fascinating' insight into Titanic sinking up for sale

Historic copies of The Daily Mirror newspaper detailing the story of the Titanic as it unfolded are for sale by auction

A lot containing copies of The Daily Mirror, marking the story of the Titanic as it unfolded, will go up for auction with Keys' with a pre-sale estimate of £200-£300 - Credit: Keys Auctioneers

It is now over 109 years since the most notorious civilian maritime disaster in history took place, when the supposedly ‘unsinkable’ RMS Titanic – at the time the largest man-made floating object ever seen – struck an iceberg and sank less than three hours later, with the loss of over 1,500 lives.

There are all sorts of reasons why the calamity has gripped the public’s imagination more or less from the day it happened: the fact that so many of the era’s great and good were on board the liner, and lost their lives; conversely, the social mix on the same ship, from multi-millionaires sailing in the height of luxury in first class to humble working men and women roughing it below decks; and not least the many individual human stories of bravery and sang-froid which typified the morality of the age.

Of course, the story has been kept alive in popular culture, with several Hollywood versions of the story having been made over the years, ranging from Saved From The Titanic, which staggeringly was released just 29 days after the disaster, to the 1997 multi Oscar-winning Titanic, starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio.

In the saleroom, Titanic-related items have always been much sought-after. Of course, the rarity of items from the ship itself – obviously, most ended up at the bottom of the Atlantic – means that they fetch huge prices at auction.

Close up 1912 copy of The Daily Mirror reporting on the Titanic disaster, which is for sale by auction

The collection of newspapers, which will go under the hammer with Keys Auctioneers, Aylsham, includes all of the Titanic-related news from the paper during that fortnight - Credit: Keys Auctioneers

In 2013 a record was set when the violin on which bandleader Wallace Hartley played ‘Nearer, My God, To Thee’ as the ship went down sold for £900,000. But even more prosaic items command high prices: in 2016 a locker key from the Titanic sold at auction for £85,000.

Because of the human-scale stories they tell, contemporary newspaper reports of the disaster are both fascinating, and equally in demand. And later this month a rare and fascinating insight into the tragedy comes up for auction at Keys with a collection of Daily Mirror newspapers covering the two weeks following the sinking, which took place on April 15, 1912.

Close up of historic Daily Mirror newspapers articles reporting on the sinking of the Titanic, which are for sale by auction

Later this month, a collection of Daily Mirror newspapers covering the two weeks following the Titanic's sinking will go up for sale by auction - Credit: Keys Auctioneers

The pages include the initial news breaking on the day following the sinking (these single copies pop up at auction reasonably frequently, as unsurprisingly people did keep them), but more unusually, reports from the Daily Mirror during the following two weeks as the full horror of the story unfolded. These later reports include details of the victims and survivors, and of the rescue, concluding with the report on April 30 of Mr Bruce Ismay, chairman of the White Star Line and survivor of the tragedy, giving evidence.

The collection includes all of the Titanic-related news from the paper during that fortnight, and adds up to a fascinating record of the breaking and unfolding of a major news story before the days of 24-hour streaming news and instant social media notifications. We have put a conservative pre-sale estimate of £200-£300 on the collection, but given the continuing fascination with the Titanic, it could go for a lot more than that.

Keys’ final three-day Fine Sale of 2021 takes place from November 24-26 at its Aylsham salerooms and live on Keys’ online bidding platform KeysLive.

For more details visit www.keysauctions.co.uk.

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