A black-and-white picture of a huge iceberg taken on the morning of April 15, 1912 – just hours after the famous ship had sunk – comes with enough supporting information that it’s expected to bring an estimated $15,400-$23,200 when sold at auction next weekend.
Historical accounts have mentioned the photo, and it hung for decades on a wall at offices of Burlingham, Montgomery & Beecher, the law firm representing White Star Line, owners of the ill-fated vessel.
The “unsinkable” ship was four days into its maiden voyage across the Atlantic with 2200 passengers and crew aboard. A lookout spotted the iceberg just 37 seconds before impact at 11:40 P.M. on April 14. The Titanic slipped beneath the surface less than three hours later. 1517 people died as a result. What makes this 16” x 20” picture especially valuable is that the photographer documented details of what he saw.
The chief steward of the ocean liner Prinz Adalbert, identified by his signature as “M. Linoenewald”, wrote theses notes, which have has not been published previously:
“On the day after the sinking of the Titanic, the steamer Prinz Adalbert passes the iceberg shown in this photograph. The Titanic disaster was not yet known by us. On one side red paint was plainly visible, which has the appearance of having been made by the scraping of a vessel on the iceberg. SS Prinz Adalbert Hamburg America Line.”
Steve Bruneau, a professor at the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, is a student of icebergs. It’s his belief that a collision such as the one described could easily cause paint to be scraped off and crushed into the ice. And it would likely remain there for a day or two if the air were cool enough, he stated.
A picture such as this one would have to be taken relatively soon after the accident, agrees Martin Truffer, a professor with the Glaciers Group at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. When the Titanic struck its surface, Truffer said, the iceberg would have resisted the impact and it would have been possible for paint to be left behind.
Although no one can be absolutely sure, the picture has been considered to be authentic for many years. And now, the accompanying comments make it even more valuable.
The two items will be auctioned as one lot by Henry Aldridge & Son in the English town of Devizes, Wiltshire, on October 24..