Page last updated at 12:32 GMT, Tuesday, 7 April 2009 13:32 UK

Brass box holds Titanic 'secret'

By Nuala McCann
BBC News

It was a small brass trinket box that held safe its secret link to the Titanic across the years and thousands of miles.

The box was picked up by an Irishman at a flea market in New York.

Molly Brown
Molly Brown was the Titanic's most famous survivor

He brought it home across the Atlantic - across the site where in 1912 more than 1,500 people perished in the icy waters of the ocean.

The man brought the box back to Belfast. It was bought by Kavanagh jewellers.

The Kavanagh catchphrase was: "I buy anything" and this time, the jeweller bought a small piece of history.

The brass box carries an inscription to Margaret Brown on her safe return.

"God has spared you, so our love shall prevail," it reads.

It is inscribed with the initials J J and the year 1912.

It was a gift from JJ Brown to his wife, better known as the Unsinkable Molly Brown, after she had survived the Titanic disaster and lived to make enough of a name for herself to inspire a Broadway musical.

The trinket box features in a new exhibition at Belfast's Linenhall Library as the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's launch looms.

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

The ship was built by Harland and Wolff and set sail out of Belfast on 2 April, 1912 only to sink on its maiden voyage.

Deborah Douglas from the Linenhall said it was the first time that the trinket box had been given on loan for an exhibition.

"Molly Brown's husband made it rich in the gold rush in Colorado. She used her fame because of her survival to set up the Juvenile Court in America and campaign for the suffragette movement there," she said.

"They even wrote a broadway musical for her."

Molly Brown's ancestors were Irish, but she came from Missouri. She was on lifeboat 6 and argued with Robert Hichens because she wanted to pick up more people from the water.

She tried to grab the tiller and urged the other ladies to row back. There was a fierce argument in which Hichens famously swore at her.

Brown was headstrong and vocal. She fought hard for women's and workers' rights and worked to help destitute children.

The exhibition also features an original black and white photograph of the Titanic when it was floated for the first time, in May 1911.

She is pictured minus the trademark funnels which were added after the shipbuilders had ensured she was seaworthy.

The first editions of two books on the Titanic also feature. One was commissioned by the family of shipbuilder Thomas Andrews, who perished.

The other appeared just weeks after the disaster.

Copies of newspapers from Belfast and New York can also be seen.

"We wanted to show something a little different," said Ms Douglas.

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