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Saturday, 20 November, 1999, 17:57 GMT
Titanic watch up for auction
The Titanic sank on its maiden voyage

A rare silver pocket watch given by a countess to a crewman who rescued her from the sinking Titanic is to be sold at auction.

The existence of the Benson watch, a gift from the Countess of Rothes, came to light earlier this year when a jeweller was convicted of obtaining the timepiece by deception from its current owner.

Lela Hughes, of Southampton, Hampshire, had taken the watch to be valued by 41-year-old Kim John Webb at his jewellery shop in the city.

Mr Webb told the 68-year-old pensioner it was worth just 15 scrap value, when in fact a sister watch had been auctioned earlier for 20,000.

Experts have now predicted Mrs Hughes' watch could fetch an even higher price because of its colourful history.

'Marvellous story'

The countess gave the watch to crewman Albert Crawford after he helped her escape to a lifeboat as the Titanic was sinking in 1912.

The watch was left to Mrs Hughes by a close friend who had inherited it from Mr Crawford.

It is to be auctioned at the British Titanic Society convention being held at the Hilton Hotel in Southampton on 14 April next year.

The event is being run by auctioneers Henry Aldridge and Son, based in Devizes, Wiltshire.

"Not only has it got a marvellous history but now there is a marvellous story to go with it," said Andrew Aldridge.

"Who knows what it will go for."

It will be put on public display next week at the Aldridge's shop in Devizes, and then locked in a vault until the auction.


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See also:
18 Feb 99 |  UK
Titanic lovers tragedy revealed
21 Jan 99 |  Entertainment
Old letters fetch Titanic prices
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