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The violin played by the bandmaster of the Titanic as it sank beneath the waves is expected to fetch a world record fee for memorabilia from the doomed liner when it goes on sale on Saturday.
The instrument belonging to Wallace Hartley was found strapped to his body after he drowned with his seven bandmates and some 1,500 others on board the supposedly unsinkable ship in 1912.
The violin has a reserve price of £200,000 to £300,000 ($323,000 to $485,000, 236,000 to 354,000 euros) but is expected to fetch as much as £400,000 ($646,000, 472,000 euros) when it goes on sale at Titanic specialist auctioneers Henry Aldridge and Son in Devizes, southwest England.
The instrument carries an inscription from the 33-year-old’s fiancee Maria Robinson to mark their engagement. It is on sale with its leather luggage case initialed WHH.
For decades the violin was believed lost but it was found in the attic of a house in northwest England in 2006, prompting a debate about its authenticity which experts only recently resolved.
Andrew Aldridge, a valuer with the auctioneer, said worldwide interest in the instrument meant it was likely to break the world record fee for a single piece of memorabilia from the Titanic.
“It epitomises bravery. He knew there would be no lifeboats. It symbolises everything that’s good about people, not just Hartley and his band, but all the men, women and children who lost their lives,” he said.