A rare photograph of the ill-fated Titanic,which was bought for “a song” at a country auction, is now set to fetch hundreds of pounds when it is auctioned again next week.
The black and white photograph, in a glazed oak frame, was taken shortly before the Titanic sank – with the loss of more than 1,500 lives – on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in April 1912.
In May 1912, just days after the tragedy, one of the worst maritime disasters of all time, Southampton bookseller Gertrude Pratt put the photograph up for sale at her store in Oxford Street, Southampton.
This is confirmed on the back of the photograph, which is stamped: “G.A.Pratt, Bookseller and Stationer, Oxford Street, Southampton, May 7, 1912.”
Now more than 100 years later, the Titanic photograph is up for sale again, but this time it is expected to fetch between £200 and £300 when it is auctioned at Reeman Dansie in Colchester, Essex on Wednesday.
But these could turn out to be cautious pre-sale estimates. When “a comparable” photograph of the Titanic came up for sale at Christie’s in London on November 5, 1998, it sold for £1,840.
Daniel Wright, auctioneer and valuer at Reeman Dansie, said: “The photograph was purchased by an eagle-eyed collector at a regional auction.
"It was simply catalogued and bought for a song. Titanic memorabilia continues to be keenly contested at auction and this photograph, which was sold just after the disaster, is a poignant document of the time.
"We are increasingly seeing more lots sold to on-line bidders and with significant international interest in the Titanic we might anticipate online competition for the lot on the day of the sale.”
The Titanic set off from Southampton on her maiden voyage to New York on April 10, 1912, but five days later she sank after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean. More than 1,500 of the 2,224 passengers and crew aboard tragically died in the disaster.
For Gertrude Pratt, the Southampton bookseller who originally sold the Titanic photograph, there was a much happier ending because in 1941 she found joy and contentment when she married for the first time... at the age of 72!
She was 95 when she died on September 8, 1963, at The Gables Home in Netley, Southampton.
Oxford Street, where Gertrude Pratt’s bookstore was situated, was a particularly busy and vibrant part of Southampton in the months leading up to the Titanic tragedy in 1912.
C.H.Williams’s Refreshment Rooms were at number 20; C.Davies’s restaurant was at number 16; R.B.Horne’s Dairy was at number 24; Wildman’s Pastry and Confectioners were at number 29; M.Louis Cottin’s was at numbers 9 and 10; and Elcombe’s Temperance Hotel was at number 18.
Titanic memorabilia is now much sought-after and valuable.
A biscuit – a Spillers & Bakers Pilot cracker – from a Titanic lifeboat became the world’s most valuable biscuit when it was sold for £15,000 at Henry Aldridge & Son at Devizes, Wiltshire, in October 2015.
At the same auction a photograph purporting to show the iceberg which sank the Titanic sold for £21,000, while “a rare and important” ticket to the launching of the Titanic in Belfast on May 31, 1911, sold for £45,490 at Bonhams in New York on April 15, 2012, which was the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic.