A cigar box that once belonged to the captain of the ill fated Titanic ship this week fetched 25,000 pounds ($40,000) to its English owner, who had not been aware of its historical significance, according to British newspapers.
The antique walnut humidor was found earlier this month in the northwestern port of Southport and it attracted a large number of auctioneers before it was sold over the phone, the papers said.
It was only when its owner, Hilary Mee arranged for a valuation that its connection to the famous vessel and its captain Edward Smith was revealed.
John Crane from auctioneers Cato Crane &Co in London saw the initials EJS on the box and made the connection.
"It was a very exciting moment when we discovered the box… it's safe to say it's a unique object," he was quoted as saying.
Initial estimates by Crane put the expected sale prices at between 10,000 and 20,000 pounds but the box was eventually sold via a telephone bid for 25,000 pounds, according to the papers.
The auction item attracted great interest and the auction room on Stanhope Street was packed with would be buyers and curious spectators, they said.
RMS Titanic was hailed as unsinkable when she launched on her maiden voyage to New York City on April 10, 1912. Two days later, she struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank with 1,517 onboard.
The Liverpool-registered vessel was owned by White Star Lines and the disaster became one of the most infamous moments of modern times.
Captain Smith was married and had a daughter called Helen, who was born in Liverpool in 1898. Relatives of Helen passed the cigar box onto Mee's father, who is now in his 80s.
Crane said he believes the box, which holds 30 cigars, may have sat on Captain Smith's desk at the White Star Line offices on James Street.
"It could have been given to Smith to reward him for 25 years at the company… I must confess a slight tingle went down my spine when I discovered it."
Mee, 64, said she had no idea the item had any connection to the Titanic. "It's been lying round the house in a bedroom on top of a cabinet for 20 years."
Sunday, May 29, 2011