Titanic letter sells for a record £55,000

Titanic History Made Again – A letter from a first-class passenger on board the ill-fated Titanic has been sold at auction for £55,000.

It fetched a record price for a piece of written correspondence from the ship, which sailed from Southampton in April 1912.

The letter, written on three sides of stationery, is penned by Adolphe Saafeld and is addressed to his “wifey”.

The letter in the auction was placed in the mail from Southhampton, England just prior to the ship’s departure on April 10 for its never-completed trans-Atlantic crossing to New York City.  It was sold to an unidentified British museum at an auction in Wiltshire.

The letter was written five days before the ship sank on 15 April and gives an insight into life on the maiden voyage of the Titanic.

It was one of 350 lots of White Star Line memorabilia sold on Saturday by Henry Aldridge and Son auctioneers in Devizes, Wiltshire.

Andrew Aldridge, from the auction house, said: “The content is superb.

“It gives a real first-person perspective of what life was like onboard, through the eyes of a first-class passenger, right down to the food, the size of the cabin and the decoration.”

He said it was the best letter of its kind, due to its depth of detail.

In it, Mr Saafeld writes about the smoothness of the journey, and describes eating a “luncheon” of soup, plaice, a loin chop with cauliflower and fried potatoes “washed down with a large Spaten beer iced”.

He also writes about a near-collision with a ship called New York, which was averted by “our stopping & our tugs coming to the rescue of the ‘New York’.”

Also sold at the auction was a set of keys kept by an officer who transferred from the Titanic before it left Southampton, which fetched £54,000.

The keys would have been stored in a box on the ship’s bridge but the officer was moved to another ship at short notice and took the keys with him.

A set of photographs relating to the Titanic, her passengers and crew were sold to various collectors for more than £100,000.

One picture, of Rosa Abbott, who was pulled from the water after the ship sank, fetched £35,000 and was bought by a private collector.


About Michael L. Grace

During the mid-80s, Michael Grace worked as a writer on the TV Hit Series THE LOVE BOAT. He wrote many of the two hour special featuring great stars of the past, including Lana Turner, Claire Trevor, Anne Baxter, Ethel Merman, Alexis Smith, etc. The public’s access to these stars, in familiar dramas and comedies, made them want to go on a cruise. They could see the stars in an ordinary world as “regular” people. The phenomenally successful series was responsible for creating the cruise industry as we know it today. By the time he was writing for Love Boat, the great steamship companies and their liners were flying hand me down foreign flags, painted like old whores, scrapped or doing three day cruises to the Bahamas. He had sailed on over thirty ships and liners with his parents, aunt and grandmother in late 50s to early 70s. The very successful CRUISING THE PAST website has been an outgrowth of Michael’s strong interest in cruise and social history. Drawing on his own knowledge and a vast maritime and social history collection, he is able to produce a very successful website. Michael is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. He has written for television and films. Read more by going to "About" (on the above dashboard) and clicking "Editor"…

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