Rare, important Titanic letters to be sold Mar. 1-3 at Philip Weiss Auctions Two rare and important letters relating to the doomed ocean liner Titanic, plus three early Titanic Marconigrams (radio telegrams) will be sold March 1-3 by Philip Weiss Auctions in Oceanside, N.Y.
News-Antique.com - Feb 10,2012 - (OCEANSIDE, N.Y.) – Two important letters relating to the doomed ocean liner Titanic, plus three early Titanic Marconigrams (radio telegrams) have been added to an already packed three-day estate sale planned for March 1-3 by Philip Weiss Auctions. The Thursday-through-Saturday auction will be held in the firm’s spacious gallery, located at 1 Neil Court in Oceanside.
The Titanic material will be offered on Friday, March 2, the sandwich day of the event.
The two letters, although written by separate people who rode aboard the Titanic’s ill-fated maiden voyage (one survived while the other perished), are linked in a way because one author refers to the other in his text. The Marconigrams were sent in the hours following the sinking of the Titanic and the resulting mad scramble to reach the area and rescue survivors.
Considered the more valuable of the letters is a two-page missive handwritten on White Star Lines stationery by John Edward Simpson, hired on April 6, 1912 to serve as an assistant surgeon on the Titanic, treating second- and third-class passengers. The letter, dated April 11 (four days before the sinking) and written aboard the Titanic, should bring $40,000-$50,000.
Addressed to Dr. Simpson’s mother, the letter reads, in part, “I am very well and am gradually getting settled in my new cabin, which is larger than my last” (referring to the previous ship he was on, the Olympic). He also writes about the theft of one of his trunks before closing, “With fondest love, John.” The letter is crisp and clean and never before been offered at auction.
Dr. Simpson did not survive the tragedy, unlike the author of the second letter, Charles Herbert Lightoller, a 2nd officer aboard the Titanic. His letter – two pages typed on White Star Lines stationery, with Mr. Lightoller’s bold signature at the end and dated May 1, 1912 – was written aboard another ship, the Adriatic, and carries a pre-sale estimate of $15,000-$20,000.
Remarkably, Mr. Lightoller’s letter goes into a detailed account of Mr. Simpson’s last hours alive: “I may say that I was practically the last man to speak to Dr. Simpson, and on this occasion he was walking along the boat-deck in company with…They were perfectly calm in the knowledge they had done their duty” and displayed “a calm and cool exterior to the passengers.”
He continued, “We exchanged the words, ‘Goodbye, old man.’ This occurred shortly before the end and I am not aware that he was seen by anyone after.” The condolence letter, written to a Mr. R.W. Graham, paints a heroic and dignified portrait of Dr. Simpson, but in the weeks after the accident a distinctly less flattering picture of Charles Lightoller began to emerge.
For starters, he was notably stricter than most officers in observing the general rule of “women and children first,” interpreting it almost to the point of “women and children only.” This led to long and agonizing good-byes on deck, wherein precious minutes were squandered instead of being put to better