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Auction House to Sell Artifacts from the Titanic


Some 1,500 people perished when the ocean liner Titanic struck an iceberg and sank in the north Atlantic while on its maiden voyage in 1912. As VOA's Sean Maroney reports from New York, an upcoming auction of ocean liner memorabilia will include artifacts from the ill-fated ship.

Telegrams from survivors of the Titanic are just some of the items up for sale Thursday at Christie's auction house in New York.

The 18 Titanic artifacts also include the ship's first-class passenger list, a roll call of prominent New York families. The list is expected to bring in between 15- and 20-thousand dollars.

Christie's maritime expert, Gregg Dietrich, says there is a lot of interest from collectors. "Any disaster where 14- or 15-hundred people die in one incident marks a significant point in time. It was also one of the first incidents in history where, almost simultaneously, they heard about it in the United States and in Europe. She was the first sort of big news story -- first big international news story since the invention of the Marconi wireless system," he said.

It took the Titanic more than two hours to sink. There were only 16 lifeboats aboard, not nearly enough for the 22-hundred passengers and crew. Eight hours passed until another ship, the Carpathia, was able to reach the Titanic and pull 705 survivors from the icy water.

Twelve-year-old Laurie Marie Cribb was rescued by the Carpathia. "We had only been out about a half an hour or so when suddenly the light of the ship went out and immediately after there was a most terrific, thunderous explosion mingled with the most terrible shrieks and groans from the helpless and doomed passengers," she said.

Cribb's original eight-page handwritten account, written shortly after her rescue, is expected to bring $10,000 to $15,000.

The deck log from the second rescue ship, the MacKay-Bennett, is also up for auction and could fetch $40,000. Dietrich says the log offers a detailed account of the search for bodies. "There were far more bodies in the ocean that she was actually going to be able to handle. She ended up recovering 306 bodies. And subsequently, based on this information, the White Star Line ended chartering three additional ships to go out to the debris field and help recover both debris and bodies from the sea," he said.

Christie's is also auctioning recovered artifacts from another famous luxury liner, the Andrea Doria, which sunk in 1956.

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