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Sunday, 16 September, 2001, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Titanic deckchair fetches 30,000
The Titanic setting sail from Southampton in 1912
The chair was one of three Titanic items auctioned
A deckchair thought to have doubled as a "liferaft" as the Titanic sank has sold for 30,000 at auction.

The deckchair is thought to be one of only six fully intact examples of makeshift "life preservers" thrown to passengers as the ship went down.

The mahogany chair was bought by collector Chris Lowe from Swindon.

"I'm glad I've managed to keep it in the UK," said Mr Lowe.

"I was drawn to it because of its rarity. It's an investment. It's a hell of a lot of money but I'm satisfied with the price. I had heard it was expected to fetch up to 35,000."

Belfast

The Titanic was built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast.

Auctioneer Alan Aldridge said: "You couldn't really use the chair - it's more of an exhibition piece. But the buyer has got a very, very rare piece. There are probably only about six in the world."

About 200 other items were also auctioned.

Among them was a pin cushion bought on board the liner by Father Francis Browne, which fetched 17,000.

The Jesuit priest took a famous set of photographs of the Titanic.

Fr Browne disembarked from the ship at Queenstown in County Cork before it sailed on to disaster.

A letter written to his niece while he was on board also sold for 17,000.


There is documentary evidence that shows one of the Titanic's officers threw between 40 and 50 chairs to people as the ship went down

Andrew Aldridge, auctioneer
The sale was run by Henry Aldridge & Son, specialist auctioneers in Titanic memorabilia.

Mr Aldridge said a single arm of another Titanic deckchair has already fetched thousands of dollars at an auction in New York.

"There is also nothing 100% that this is one of the chairs that was used as a liferaft, but there is documentary evidence that shows one of the Titanic's officers threw between 40 and 50 chairs to people as the ship went down."

Ship's menus

The auctioneers firm, which is based in Devizes, Wiltshire, became Titanic specialists three years ago.

"I have been interested in the Titanic since I was six," Mr Aldridge said.

"In 1998 two menus from the inaugural launch of the Titanic in May 1911 came up at an auction we held.

"Previously such items had only sold for about 2,500, but with a bit of publicity we managed to sell the set for more than 10,000."

Since then the firm has sold up to 500,000 worth of Titanic items, including a pocket watch that fetched 22,500.

See also:

26 Jul 01 | UK
Outcry over Titanic wedding
15 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
Titanic survivor's watch not sold
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