Henry Aldridge and Sons, an auction house in the U.K., claims it has proof that a violin it will auction for a client next year was played by Wallace Hartley, bandleader on the R.M.S. Titanic, as the ship sank on April 15, 1912.
The auction house recently announced findings from a CT scan they had done and that scan, they say, verifies that it was the violin played by the 34-year-old Hartley.
"The violin was in a heavy duty leather Gladstone type bag, so the violin would have come into contact with water, but it would have been protected by the leather. The instrument is also held together with animal glue, which melts when it is hot, not when it is cold," Henry Aldridge told the BBC. “We’ve spent the last seven years gathering evidence and we’re confident that ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ this is Wallace Hartley’s violin."
Wallace Hartley: went down with Titanic
There's no dispute it was Hartley's, a silver plate on the face has a message engraved from his fiancee, Maria Robinson, the message reading: "For Wallace on the occasion of our engagement, from Maria." The dispute is whether the musician had it on the Titanic as he and his 7 band members played in an effort to calm passengers and crew in the chaotic moments leading up to the ship going down.
Hartley's body was pulled out of the icy waters of the North Atlantic 10 days after the ship went down on April 15, 1912, and some historians note there was no record of his violin being strapped to him, as Aldridge and Sons, and the owner of the violin, claim it was.
However, Hartley's body was found by the MacKay-Bennett, and that ship took on 306 bodies and incomplete inventories may have been a result of so many dead over just a few days of searching.
Two things in particular suggest it was with Hartley on the night that the Titanic sank to the bottom of the North Atlantic: one, tests determined it was immersed in sea water in its past and; two, the auctioneer has uncovered an authenticated letter from Maria Robinson to officials in Nova Scotia, where the body had been taken, thanking them for having sent her fiancee's violin along to her.
Hartley violin to tour U.S.
Aldridge and son has the violin on behalf of its unidentified owner, a person in Lancashire - Hartley was from Colne in Lancashire - who found it in his attic. It was in a leather case with the initials W.H.H. (Wallace Henry Hartley) on the outside. The instrument will be going on tour in the U.S. before being sold at auction.
All 8 members of the band died in the tragedy and have been called heroes for continuing to play right up until the end. Speculation is that the violin will fetch six figures.