The name of the ship explains the estimate of £15,000-20,000 placed on this postcard at the Warwick & Warwick auction house on July 18 – Titanic memorabilia is an ever-popular collecting field with buyers prepared to pay big money for the most sought-after items.
For example, the last known letter written on the Titanic by a victim before it sunk in the Atlantic in 1912 set an auction record for a letter from the doomed ship in October last year when it sold for a hammer price of £100,000 to a British buyer at Titanic memorabilia specialist Henry Aldridge & Son in Wiltshire.
'Fisgig' the survivor
The postcard on offer at Warwick & Warwick, a saleroom based appropriately enough in Warwick, is a Titanic printed cardwritten and posted on board the liner, addressed to Miss (Nell) Green of Birmingham.
After the poignant message already mentioned, in pencil, the card is signed “Fisgig”, the nickname used by the sender, Sarah Daniels, who survived the disaster.
The card bares the circular datestamp of April 11, 1912, of Queenstown (now Cobh), Ireland, the port from which mail written on board was posted.
Daniels was born in London on November 10, 1875, and was employed as a maid to the wealthy Allison family of Montreal, Canada. She travelled on Titanic in 1st class with the family consisting of Hudson and Bessie Allison, their two infant children Lorraine and Trevor, and the children’s nurse, Alice Cleaver.
Before to boarding the doomed liner Daniels had been staying in Birmingham with her friend, Nell Green. When the ship hit the iceberg Sarah decided that something was wrong and went out by herself to investigate. She was unable to convince Hudson Allison or Alice Cleaver to join her, or that there was any danger.
On deck the crew directed her to lifeboat 8. She told the Manitoba Free Press: “The boat I was in was not very crowded. There were only 4 men in the boat and they took the oars. There was no officer in the boat and a woman steered as we were rowing away in the darkness.”
The Allison family perished with the exception of baby Trevor, who was saved by his nursemaid, Alice Cleaver.
The lot is offered together with two further postcards written from Daniels to Green in 1906 and 1908, when she was also using the nickname Fisgig.
Fresh to market
The north London vendors, brothers Ralph (John) and Stephen Wilkes, are related to Nell Green and research notes and a genealogy is included in the lot. They are the grand-children of Green’s cousin and the card has remained in the possession of the family since its receipt. The postcard is fresh to the market, having never previously been offered.
Warwick & Warwick secured the consignment "because of our reputation as the largest specialised auctioneers of postcards in this country”, says saleroom director Colin Such.
Wireless operator message
In October 2016 a Titanic postcard sent by the ship’s chief wireless operator Jack Phillips was hammered down at £15,000, again at Henry Aldridge & Sons. It was written by Phillips on April 6, 1912.
At Bristol Auction Rooms on February 16 this year, a postcard described as an “incredibly rare” depicted the launch of the Titanic on May 31, 1911. It sold for just above low estimate at £830.
The black and white photograph to the centre shows the freshly launched Titanic being pulled into harbour by tugs, taken in Belfast, at Queen’s Yard. The cataloguer said: “Very few of these postcards were thought to ever have been produced, and even less surviving. Only a handful of similar cards exist to this day - but this card shows a slightly different image to those known (the other type of card showing a different arrangement of tug boats at Titanic's hull). Possibly unique, possibly the only surviving version of this card.”
A handwritten note to verso, presumably unrelated to the ship itself, reads: “171 Eldon Road, Cardiff 24/11/11. Dear Cousin, I thank you very much for the flowers, afraid wife is no better. She is going under a operation. Sarah and her mother wish to be remembered to you. I hope your Father's better by now. Harry is home from sea. Kind love to all... Walter (?)” (sic).
The RMS Titanic, owned by the White Star Line, was launched into the Victoria Channel in Belfast Lough from slipway number 3 at the Queen's Yard of the Harland & Wolff shipyard. The event was witnessed by 90 members of the press & crowds of over 100,000 people including dignitaries, dockers and members of the public.
She took 62 seconds to travel the length of the slipway, at a speed of 12 knots, before hitting the water. As to the tradition of White Star Line, Titanic was never christened, which some saw as a bad omen at the time. Just over a year after this image was taken, Titanic left Cherbourg (France) and steamed into the history books.