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Thursday, January 21, 1999 Published at 10:38 GMT


Old letters fetch Titanic prices

The real Titanic: The world's most famous ocean liner

A letter written by one of the survivors of the Titanic disaster has been sold at a British auction for 8,000.

BBC Correspondent Clinton Rogers: The Titanic letters shed new light on what happened in 1912
Twenty-two letters written by survivors of the disaster in 1912 - some of them on the ship's letter-head - were offered for sale at an auction house in Devizes, Wiltshire on Wednesday. The items fetched between 375 and 8,000.

Other items relating to the ship, which sank with the loss of 1,513 lives, were also sold at the auction. They included fittings and a print of the Titanic.

Three of the most expensive letters were sold to London-based collector Denis Cochrane, who has spent 40 years collecting memorabilia from the ship.

He said: "I am thrilled with what I have bought. I was determined to have them come hell or high water." Mr Cochrane's Titanic collection is to be exhibited in Orlando, Florida.

Andrew Aldridge of auctioneers Henry Aldridge and Sons said: "We were very pleased with how things went. One letter was not sold but there was a great deal of interest in the rest."

Insight into history

[ image: That film: The movie Titanic has made memorabilia from the ship more sought after]
That film: The movie Titanic has made memorabilia from the ship more sought after
The letters shed new light on what happened the night the Titanic went down.

One in particular, has stirred up fresh controversy. Londoner Nelly Warcroft gave an alarming account of the alleged shooting of a steerage passenger who tried to board one of the lifeboats.

"We had 70ft to be let down in the boat and when we were going down the steerage passengers jumped in the boat. Our officer - seeing our danger - jumped on the boat and shot the men to keep them from swamping us," she wrote.

Relatives of another woman whose letters were up for sale have said that they were now too expensive for them to buy. Florence McManus said her cousin Edwina Trout had told her all the details anyway.

"She did say that some of the lifeboats weren't full - they were half full, and one or two of the people wanted to go back to the ship to pick up more," she said.

Serious collectors

The blockbuster film has dramatically increased the price of all Titanic memorabilia, however obscure. The leg of a coffee table made out of Titanic driftwood sold for 800, and two White Star Line coat hangers sold for 150.

Mr Aldridge knows he has the movie to thank for the high prices.

"The film has had a great effect on the market - some prices have increased five or six-fold."

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