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The R. M. S. Titanic sank 101 years ago but the memories of the disaster remain strong as ever as evidenced by the events at a recent auction.

A violin, confirmed to be on the Titanic, was sold at auction for 1.7 million dollars. Band leader Wallace Hartley played the instrument as the mighty ship slowly sank on a late night in April 1912. The final auction price is exhibit A for the enduring interest in one of the most notorious maritime disasters in modern history.

Lexington Gazette, April 24, 1912

Many survivors said that the last tune played by the band was “Nearer  My God to Thee,” though Harold Bride, the surviving wireless operator, reported that he heard the band playing “Autumn.” But this creates its own sort of confusion as he didn’t say if he was referring to the Episcopal hymn or the popular song. Just one of the many details that provides a never ending source for discussion and investigation.

More evidence of the continued fascination with the sinking of the Titanic can be found in the R. M. S. Titanic: 100 Years Later, the Library’s web exhibit about the disaster created way back in 1996/97 – before the release of the blockbuster movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet!

And if you want to delve deeper into this compelling story, try searching through the pages of U.S. imprint newspapers from the era at Virginia Chronicle and Chronicling America.

Kelley Ewing

Kelley Ewing

Senior Project Cataloger

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