Both were written on the same, large format On board R.M.S.”Titanic” notepaper bearing the White Star Line pennant, but it was that written by Oskar Holverson the day before disaster struck that commanded most interest.
A letter found in his pocket when his body was recovered from the sea, it sold for £100,000 in an October 21 sale held by Henry Aldridge & Son (20/15/10% buyer’s premium) of Devizes, which has for many years specialised in the sale of such material.
Holverson, a first-class passenger, was writing to tell his mother: “This boat is giant in size and fitted up like a platial hotel… I am sending you a postcard of the ship and also a book of postcards showing the inside.”
He also notes that among his fellow passengers were Mr and Mrs JJ Astor: “He looks like any other human being even tho he has millions of money. They sit out on deck with the rest of us…”
Holverson added: “If all goes well we will arrive in New York Wednesday A.M.” But it was not to be. Holverson perished, but his wife survived and what became the most expensive Titanic letter ever sold at auction was recovered from his body and returned to the family, where it had remained until its recent sale appearance.
Sold for £24,000 at Bonhams (20/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) on November 15 was a brief note on Titanic notepaper, together with a photocard of the doomed liner, that was sent by George Wright to a Miss Smith just before it sailed.
“On the largest ship in the world and realy she is a sight… I just got on board and she will saile in a few minutes,” wrote Wright, an American millionaire publisher of business directories and philanthropist from Halifax, Nova Scotia, who had spent the winter in the south of France.
Some mystery surrounds Wright. Said to have been a rather shy bachelor – and as the spelling might suggest, perhaps dyslexic – it seems he was never seen on deck and there have been suggestions that, as a heavy sleeper, he never heard the alarms raised.
Whether or not that was the case, we will never know, but as an experienced yachtsman he would surely have been of use in the launching and manning of the lifeboats.
What is also curious, if nothing more, is that before embarking on the voyage back to the US, Wright seems to have changed his will, giving his fine Halifax mansion away to a group of women who were engaged in good works in his home town.