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Violin Case Belonging to Bandleader Aboard the Titanic to Sell for £120,000

The case belonged to Wallace Hartley, who continued to lead the orchestra as the Titanic sunk in 1912


A leather violin case belonging to Wallace Hartley, the bandleader aboard HMS Titanic when it sank in 1912, is set to sell at auction — and experts estimate it should fetch a sum of around £120,000.

1,522 people died during the tragedy, and Hartley and his band continued to perform as the ship sank, in an effort to comfort other passengers.

The case was found attached to Hartley's body in the wreckage of the ship, with the instrument still inside. These were returned to his fiancee, Maria Robinson, who was living in Lancashire. Following her death, the violin was donated to the local Salvation Army band, where a member passed it on to their student.

The student's son inherited the violin and, having discovered its provenance, sold the instrument for a record £1.1m in 2013. Prior to the sale, forensic tests and CT scans were undertaken to confirm that the instrument was genuine.

The case has undergone similar testing, and corrosion deposits were recovered from the lock mechanism and metalwork — suggesting that the case had been immersed in seawater.

The case will be sold on April 27, 2024, alongside an order of service from Hartley's funeral in May 1912.

"Wallace Hartley's violin is the most iconic piece of Titanic memorabilia ever sold at auction," said auctioneer Andrew Aldridge. "However, it would not have survived if it were not for this valise case made of English coach hide. The long straps would have been used by Wallace to strap the bag to himself as the Titanic was sinking. It served to protect the instrument against the salt seawater."

"The bag is one of the largest pieces of luggage to have survived the disaster," he added. "It is a tangible link to the Titanic and represents an integral part of the Hartley violin's journey from Titanic to the present day."

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