Henry Aldridge & Son

The Devizes Auctioneers

"The Wiltshire Auctioneers with the Worldwide Reputation"

 

 

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“Well, the sailors say we have had a wonderful passage up to now”.
Unique letter written hours before Titanic sank estimated to sell at auction for £80000-£100000.

 

 

Henry Aldridge and Son, the world’s leading auctioneers of Titanic memorabilia are holding an auction of Titanic collectables to commemorate the 102nd anniversary of the loss of the Royal Mail Steamer Titanic on April 26th at 1pm.One of the star lots is only known letter written on Titanic stationery on board Sunday April 14th 1912, the day the liner collided with an iceberg, resulting in the loss of over 1500 lives.


Estimated at £80000-£100000 this unique piece, complete with its envelope embossed with the White Star Burgee, was written by Second Class passenger Esther Hart, the mother of the famous survivor Eva Hart, and it is featured in Eva Hart’s biography “Shadow of the Titanic”. She was travelling with her parents, Esther and Benjamin, a master builder, to Canada, where they were to start a new life.


Eva describes the poignant events of April 14th in great detail in her biography... “After our very satisfying lunch, the three of us went to the library for a rest for a short time before mother left us to go to bed. She took the opportunity to write a letter to her own mother back in Chadwell Heath. It was intended that the letter would stay with the ship to be delivered on its return journey.
As it was, it was never mailed and survived the disaster with the two of us. “Writing on note paper embossed with the White Star Line flag and headed ‘On Board “Titanic”’ she makes it very clear that she was not enjoying the trip at all. She gave a very lucid picture of life on the ship through her worried eyes. That Sunday afternoon she wrote: “My Dear ones all, As you see it is Sunday afternoon and we are resting in the library after luncheon. I was very bad all day yesterday could not eat or drink and sick all the while, but today I have got over it. This morning Eva and I went to church and she was so pleased they sang “Oh God our help in ages past” that is her Hymn she sang so nicely. So she sang out loudly she is very bonny. She has had a nice ball and a box of toffee and a photo of this ship bought her today. Everybody takes notice of her through the Teddy Bear. There is to be a concert on board tomorrow night in aid of the Sailors’ Home and she is going to sing so am I. Well, the sailors say we have had a wonderful passage up to now. There has been no tempest, but God knows what it must be when there is one. This mighty expanse of water, no land in sight and the ship rolling from side to side is being wonderful. Tho they say this Ship does not roll on account of its size. Any how it rolls enough for me, I shall never forget it. It is very nice weather but awfully windy and cold. They say we may get into New York Tuesday night but we are really due early Wednesday morning, shall write as soon as we get there. This letter won’t leave the ship but will remain and come back to England where she is due again on the 26th. Where you see the letter all of a screw is where she rolls and shakes my arm. I am sending you on a menu to show you how we live. I shall be looking forward to a line from somebody to cheer me up a bit. I am always shutting my eyes and I see everything as I left it. I hope you are all quite well. Let this be an all round letter as I can’t write properly to all ‘till I can set my foot on shore again. We have met some nice people on board, Lucy, and so it has been nice so far. But oh the long, long days and nights. It’s the longest break I have ever spent in my life. I must close now with all our fondest love to all of you. From your loving Ess”. “Mother left enough space for me to add my own message written in my large immature letters saying: “heaps of love and kisses to all from Eva”.


“Little did we think at the time that we would eventually bring the letter back to England ourselves. It was quite clear from the message that the journey was a terrible strain to her and she was worried all the time. There was no doubt that she needed her rest and sleep after writing it”. “It was late in the evening of Thursday 18th April 1912 before the heavily laden “Carpathia” berthed at the New York dockside. Thousands of onlookers had waited many hours to see the arrival of the small ship which had been responsible for the rescue. Everybody was very kind to us when we disembarked and despite the loss of all our money, passports and baggage, there were no undue delays in getting through the immigration control. My mother’s first action was to send a cable to her parents in England confirming that we had been rescued and that we had arrived safely in the U.S.A. The letter she had written that Sunday afternoon on the “Titanic” was never posted. She found it in the pocket of my father’s
sheepskin lined coat after we had been rescued and for her it was to remain a constant reminder of that tragic journey and of the loss of her husband”.


The importance of this legendary item cannot be overstated, being the only known surviving example of its type to have been written on that fateful day, surviving the sinking, and having belonged to such a well known survivor. The letter and envelope are in remarkable condition, with an impeccable provenance, and they represent a truly unique opportunity to own the finest example of its genre in existence. It is quite simply the jewel in the crown of Titanic manuscript ephemera.
Contact Andrew Aldridge on 01380 729199 or andrew@henryaldridge.com for high res images.

 


Broken vase Discovered on
Routine House Visit Sells for £1500.


Henry Aldridge and Son’s March 29th auction of Antiques and Collectables offered something for everyone. Over 780 lots went under the hammer at the Devizes saleroom’s latest offering of Antiques and Collectables.


A strong collection of paintings from a number of private clients led the way with a stunning still life by Benjamin Walter Spiers a highly acclaimed Victorian artist who specialised in that genre selling for £2600 and a small but quite superb oil by Thomas Barker of Leamington of cows grazing making £750.


General Collectables always feature strongly in Devizes and this sale was no exception. A rare vintage leather quilted Chanel handbag sold for £1000, a World War One Vetinary medal trio £700, a beautiful 18ct gold Emerald bracelet £5000, a lovely 19th century Alibert French musical clock £1000 and Royal Naval Dress sword £580.


Henry Aldridge were asked to appraise a number of items in a local property earlier in March and during the valuation, Andrew Aldridge spotted a 16th century Italian Maiolica vase that was destined for the local house clearers. The vase was heavily
damaged having converted into a lamp around 50 years ago. It exhibited all of the trade mark signs of a genuine piece of 400 year old Venetian tin glazed pottery. Mr Aldridge informed the rather surprised owner of its age and much to her delight it sold for a little over its top estimate of £1500.


Henry Aldridge and Son’s next auction is on April 26th, the first of two dedicated Titanic and Transport sales this year. They are also accepting entries for the May 10th auction whether they be single items or full house clearances and are holding the next free valuation day on the 10th April.


Please visit www.henry-aldridge.com or contact Andrew Aldridge BA Hons MRICS Chartered Arts and Antiques Surveyor at andrew@henryaldridge.com for further details.

 

 


 

Royal Memorabilia Sails into the distance.

Henry Aldridge and Son’s first auction of 2014 was a resounding success, over 800 lots went under the hammer with a packed saleroom making the effort to attend the auction in some truly atrocious weather conditions combined with numerous internet and telephone bids. The sale achieved some impressive publicity before the auction as has become the way with auctions at Henry Aldridge and Son’s Devizes salerooms with results reflecting this.

A unique archive of items relating to King George VI, Queen Elizabeth II, The Queen Mother and the Royal Yachts were among the stars of the auction. They were collected by and given to a member of the Royal Household who rose to the position of Lt. Commander and his posts included being appointed Keeper of the Royal Apartments. Highlights of the collection included two items that sat on King George VI’s desk in his study on board HM Yacht Victoria and Albert. They are an ashtray and beautiful quality sycamore desk companion/inkstand.

Opportunities to own an item that sat on the desk of a King are few and far between and this was reflected in the interest in the collection which came from as far as New York, Los Angeles and Beijing. Other items from the collection included a paperweight that sat on the Queen’s desk in her study on board the Britannia and was used only by the Queen Mother, signed photos presented to the owner by The Queen and Queen Mother after he left the Royal Yacht, an extremely rare Edward VIII Royal Yacht menu card, mixed ephemera and also rare china from the Royal Yachts Osborne, Alexandra and Victoria and Albert, the collection sold for over £7000.

In typically eclectic style collectors of most genres were well represented with a rare totem from the now defunct Devizes Railway Station selling for £1040, an album of New Zealand and Colonial postcards £1500, an archive of postcards relating to a soldier who crossed Russia after World War One making £1600, a 1930’s silver tray £1200, a small collection of sovereigns £2400, 19th century tavern clock £3500 and early 19th century Welsh dresser went back to North Wales going to a phone bidder for £2300.

An original Beatles Melody Maker Pop Poll plaque from 1965 for Top British Vocal Disc for a Ticket to Ride attracted attention from both collectors and the press alike prior to the auction. Although missing its surround which was regarded by collectors as an integral element, the solid silver award, which showed an inset figure playing a saxophone was purchased by a collector from New York against interest from buyers in France and England for £1200.

Henry Aldridge and Son hold monthly free valuation days where members of the public from all over Wiltshire and the West Country bring items in for their experts to appraise free of charge. The next free valuation day is on February 28th between 10am and 3.30pm with entries now being invited for the March 15th Antiques and Collectables auction.



 

Records Tumble in Vintage Year for
Devizes Auctioneers.

2013 proved to be a vintage year for Henry Aldridge and Son, the Wiltshire Auctioneers with the Worldwide reputation. Over 8000 lots went under the auctioneers hammer with prices that ranged from £50 to over £1 million. Alan and Andrew Aldridge cemented their place among the premier auctioneers of antiques and collectables in the South West breaking several world records along the way. They also showcased the Devizes saleroom in media outlets around the world such as Good Morning America, were featured on live broadcasts directly from the saleroom in Devizes by SKY TV, BBC and even Russian TV, to specialist documentaries for broadcasters in both the US and UK.

 

The highlight of the year was of course the Wallace Hartley Violin which sold for over £1million but numerous other fascinating pieces were sold to clients all over the world with many examples selling for five figure sums. The market for high end Titanic memorabilia is stronger than ever with a number of new high net worth bidders participating in both the April and October auctions. Another Titanic lot that attracted significant attention was a letter written on board the ship by Wallace Hartley. He described the liner as “A fine ship & there ought to be plenty of money on her”. It caused significant interest and sold to an American collector for over £93000.

 

Henry Aldridge and Son pride themselves on offering an eclectic mix of antiques and collectables in the Devizes salerooms and this year was no exception. As a Manchester United supporter, Andrew Aldridge was delighted to be given the chance of selling the team sheet for Sir Alex Ferguson’s first game in charge of the Manchester United.

 

The Football League sheet signed by Sir Alex was submitted for the Oxford United match played at the Manor Ground on November 8th 1986. Manchester United lost 2-0 which was an inauspicious start to a dynasty that yielded a record 13 Premier League titles and Two Champions Leagues among its haul of over 30 trophies. The team in November 1986 was a little different to the star studied affair for Sir Alex’s last game in charge that included global stars such as Robin Van Persie. It sold for over £19000, breaking the world record for a football team sheet sold at auction.

 

Another unique collection that hit the headlines was a group of material brought back from Colonel Younghusbands 1903 Tibet Expedition. Highlights included a Sino Tibetan deity gilt on white metal set with the remains of turquoise jewels showing Ushnishavijaya, measuring only 5ins in height it sold for an impressive £45000 and a truly stunning Sino Tibetan deity gilt on copper of Mahakala standing on a human figure holding a skull cap & chopper with a garland of skulls around his shoulders and waist, embellished with small turquoise, pink and blue stone mounted on a lotus stand. Although small in stature at 8ins it sold for £77000 to a buyer in the room against competition from phone bidders in China, Hong-Kong and the United States. Two collections of photographs from the same expedition made over £10000 each.

 

Although by no means the most valuable lot of the year, an example of the world's first Christmas card was one of the most interesting. Dating from 1843 this extremely rare pictorial lithograph depicted a Victorian family eating and being merry at Christmas with two outer panels showing Christmas spirit. The card was designed by John Calcott Horsley at the instigation of Sir Henry Cole. It sold to a collector for £4200.

 

Jewellery, silver and collectables always attract a strong following at Henry Aldridge, several Rolex’s were sold in 2013, the most impressive was an 18ct Gentleman’s Oyster watch that made over £6000, a harlequin group of four 17th century silver wine tasters making £5500, an unusual Longines pilots watch £4700 and a set of 1960’s gold spoons making over £7500. The eclectic nature of the business was illustrated in the sale of a tribal shield from Borneo. After research by the auctioneers it was established it was a Dayak tribal example. In the past, the Dayak’s were feared for their ancient tradition of headhunting practices and this shield was decorated with human hair!! It dated from the 1900’s and attracted interest from across the globe with buyers from Australia and the US going to head to head to those in the UK. A collector from London was the high bidder at over £4200.

 

Henry Aldridge and Son hold monthly free valuation days where members of the public from all over Wiltshire and the West Country bring items in for their experts to appraise, the next is on January 30th between 10am and 3.30pm. However members of the general public can contact the auctioneers anytime during working hours for free confidential advice on the sale of antiques and collectables. Henry Aldridge’s first auction of 2014 is on February 15th. Please visit www.henry-aldridge.com or contact Andrew Aldridge BA Hons MRICS Chartered Arts and Antiques Surveyor at andrew@henryaldridge.com or 01380 729199 for further details.  Please visit www.henry-aldridge.com or contact Andrew Aldridge BA Hons MRICS Chartered Arts and Antiques Surveyor at andrew@henryaldridge.com or 01380 729199 for further details.

 


 

 

Another Successful Sale in Devizes

 

Henry Aldridge and Son’s last auction of 2013 on December 14th brought down the curtain one of the most successful ever year’s for the Devizes Auctioneers.

 

There were the usual eclectic mix of antiques and collectables with over 800 lots going under the hammer at the Wiltshire Auctioneers with the worldwide reputation’s saleroom in Devizes. The lot that garnered most of the press attention was an example of the world's first Christmas Card. Andrew Aldridge conducted numerous interviews prior to the auction to promote the sale nationally, they included a piece for BBC Radio 5 Live. Dating from 1843 this extremely rare pictorial lithograph depicts a Victorian family eating and being merry at Christmas with two outer panels depicts Christmas spirit. The card was designed by John Calcott Horsley at the instigation of Sir Henry Cole. Sir Henry was born in Bath and his many credits included being the first Director of the Victoria and Albert museum. There were two types of card, a coloured variant that sold for 1 / 2d (6p) or the rarer uncoloured version for 1/- (5p). This example is one of the latter and was sent to a Marinda Cundy and has remained in the family since 1843. The card sold to a collector for £4200.

 

The diversity of this particular auction was illustrated in the breadth of items being sold. Due to the sale’s proximity to Christmas it represented an excellent opportunity to buy an imaginative Christmas gift for the loved one who had everything. Notable examples of this included a rare Royal Doulton character jug of a clown that made £1000, a set of Buddy Holly autographs £1000 and a French Empire style mantle clock £1100.

 

Henry Aldridge and Son hold monthly free valuation days where members of the public from all over Wiltshire and the West Country bring items in for their experts to appraise. Once such item was an Aboriginal Wunda Shield, which sold for £1900. Items from the Chinese section yielded more positive results with a Spinach Green Jade Dog of Fo selling for £1000 and a small Mutton Fat Jade vase making £1700. Jewellery again sold well with a Ladies Gold Rolex watch making £3000, a 14ct gold cigarette case making £1900, a very attractive diamond ring making £4200 and a harlequin group of four 17th century silver wine tasters making £5500. Good quality antiques and paintings again proved popular with a watercolour of a Venetian Lagoon by Charles Vacher making £3000, a 20th century reproduction of a Louis XVI Escritoire inlaid with floral marquetry selling for £4200 and an 18th century gateleg table making £1000.

 

The auctioneers are now accepting entries for their first auction of Collectables and Antiques of 2014 on February 15th. The next free valuation day is on January 30th between 10am and 3.30pm. Please visit www.henry-aldridge.com or contact Andrew Aldridge BA Hons MRICS Chartered Arts and Antiques Surveyor at andrew@henryaldridge.com or 01380 729199 for further details.

 


 

Titanic Violin Smashes World Record Selling for £1.1m

 

 

 

The world’s media descended on the sleepy Wiltshire Town of the Devizes on October 19th for the auction of the world-famous violin played by RMS Titanic bandmaster Wallace Hartley on board the ill-fated liner. Henry Aldridge and Son, the world’s leading auctioneers of blue chip Titanic memorabilia and confirmed not only this reputation but also their ability to attract world record prices when selling items at auction. The instrument, which was discovered in 2006, was played by second-class passenger Wallace Hartley on Titanic’s fateful night of April 14th, 1912. It is sold alongside a leather luggage case initialled W. H. H. (Wallace Henry Hartley), in which Wallace placed the violin before going into the cold North Atlantic on the morning of April 15th 1912.

 

The media scrum at the sale included live broadcasts throughout the day from BBC and SKY with additional crews from America and Europe including NBC. The sale itself was featured on prime time television around the world from America, Europe, Australia and Asia.

 

Before the auction the violin went on exhibition at Titanic Branson and Titanic Pigeon Forge in the United States, the largest Titanic museums in the world where over 315000 viewed it and also at Titanic Belfast, the award winning visitor attraction in Northern Ireland, Belfast City Hall and made a final poignant journey to Dewsbury in Yorkshire, where Wallace Hartley lived.

 

The violin attracted interest from buyers around the world with numerous telephone lines booked and took a little more than ten minutes to sell, the new owner a private collector of Titanic and iconic items of historical significance is based in the UK and paid £1.1m for the honour of owing the most important piece of Titanic memorabilia ever to be sold at auction.

 

The violin itself is German, probably Berlin or Dresden school, circa 1880, bearing a later label Giovan Paolo Maggini Brescia. It is a copy of a Maggini with double purfled back and front, the two piece back of medium curl descending from the joint. The original varnish, now largely absent, is of a dark brown colour with a later golden brown covering. Its eventful life is reflected in the condition with signs of restoration and large cracks on the body of the instrument. The tail plate fitted to the violin bears a silver hallmark Chester, 1910 and is engraved “For WALLACE on the occasion of our ENGAGEMENT from MARIA”. It was given to Dewsbury resident Wallace Hartley as a gift from his fiancée Maria Robinson on the event of their engagement. Regarded as a hero in Titanic folk lore, Hartley is credited with the decision to lead his eight-strong band into the historic hymn ‘Nearer, My God, to Thee’ in an attempt to calm passengers as they boarded lifeboats. All eight men perished in the disaster, and Hartley’s remains were recovered on April 25th 1912 by the crew of the ship, MacKay Bennett. His body was recorded as number 224.

 

Widely regarded as the world’s leading experts in the sale of RMS Titanic memorabilia, Henry Aldridge and Son have unparalleled experience in auctioning and handling the rarest memorabilia to be offered and describe the Hartley Violin as “the Holy Grail.”.

 

Since its discovery in 2006, the violin has been the subject of an extensive scientific and historical investigation by some of the leading experts globally in their respective fields. The provenance of the instrument and associated collection can be traced back to Maria Robinson, Wallace's fiancée, its discovery in Halifax Nova Scotia, through to the present day, an aspect of the archive that is covered in depth by Dewsbury author, Christian Tennyson-Ekberg in his 400 page biography of Wallace Hartley and Maria Robinson, Nearer Our God to Thee.

 

An early part of the historical research into the collection was based around the fact that the violin and music case were not mentioned in the victim's body effects list. Detailed research into an original copy of this list showed a number of anomalies and examples of inaccurate information proving that the list could not regarded as definitive. The most likely explanation was that the case containing the violin was simply not regarded as a "body effect", a term that was used in the preparation of the effects lists for all of the recovered bodies, which was corroborated in an interview with the Captain of the ship that recovered Wallace’s body.

 

Henry Aldridge and Son employed the services of the British Government owned Home Office Forensic Science Service, a body providing scientific services to the police and other law enforcement agencies in the UK and overseas the scientific tests into the collection. Under the stewardship of Michael Jones, an FSS trace analysis and Crown Prosecution Witness expert with over 29 years’ experience in the field, the violin, music case and items recovered from Wallace's body were subjected to numerous tests at the FSS Laboratory in Chepstow, Begbroke Nano, Oxford Materials Characterization Services at the University of Oxford and Ridgeway Clinic in Swindon where a CT scan of the interior of the instrument was conducted. The results of the trace analysis were found to be compatible with material that had been recovered from other Titanic victims including Titanic postal worker Oscar Woody and Third class passenger Carl Asplund.

 

Michael Jones, who led the scientific analysis commented:

 

“The silver fish plate was analysed by use of a Scanning Electron Microscope in conjunction with an X-ray Microprobe Analysis System. This method allows both the visualisation and elemental analysis of solid samples”.

 

“In my opinion the findings in relation to the corrosion associated with the metal fixtures of the travel case in which the violin was recovered, and also to the portfolio would be considered compatible with immersion in seawater. The silver fish plate present on the violin visually appears to be an original fixture. The four screw fixtures appear very heavily corroded. There was no evidence observed to suggest that this plate had been recently attached to the violin or had been attached as a replacement of an earlier fixture. Again the corrosion deposits associated with the surfaces of this silver metal fish plate would be considered compatible with immersion in seawater. This may be further supported by the findings in relation to the lining material of the travel case”

 

Craig Sopin is a world authority on the history of Titanic, owning one of the largest private collections of Titanic artefacts. Craig has advised museums and auction rooms and is Corporate Secretary of the Titanic International Society.

 

"To say I was sceptical at first would be an understatement", said Craig Sopin. "But, after I conducted an exhaustively detailed investigation into the history and forensics of the instrument, I became convinced beyond doubt that this violin belonged to Wallace Hartley and that it was with him on RMS Titanic"

 

Jack Eaton, is a co-founder of the Titanic International Society and served as an historical consultant to expeditions to the wreck site in 1993, 1996 and 1998 and made a dive to the wreck in 1993. He has appeared in many TV documentaries and written numerous articles for Voyage, the TIS journal. With his co-author Charles Haas, he has written five books: Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy, Titanic: Destination Disaster; Titanic, The Exhibition; Titanic: A Journey Through Time; and Falling Star: Misadventures of White Star Line Ships, which are widely regarded as definitive on the subject. Jack describes the different skills that were utilised to confirm the violin’s authenticity.

 

“The story is one of those rare tales that involve science, art and history in a sort of breathless maelstrom whose vortex is Civilized Discovery”.

 

Richard Slater is a leading silver expert who serves on the Council of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain and is a graduate of Gem-A. London-based Gem-A is the longest established and most highly respected international gem education body. He was also the head of silver and Jewellery at a leading London auctioneer for over 12 years, he states:

 

“In my opinion the engraving on the silver panel is contemporary with the hallmarks and all the pieces are in original condition. I have examined the piece using a 10X loupe and it would appear that the silver panel has not been removed from the fish plate”

 

Andrew Hooker was brought in by the auctioneers for his expertise as a renowned violin expert and author, his impressive CV included seven years as head of musical instruments at Sotheby’s where he handled violins ranging from modest instruments to Stradivari.

 

"The style of the violin - that is, inexpensive, German, and factory-made, is entirely consistent with the status of a bandsman on a ship".

 

Stanley Lehrer is founder and former president, publisher and editorial director of USA Today. He is also the world's foremost collector of Titanic artefacts and memorabilia. Many of his priceless pieces are showcased by Titanic Museum Attractions in Branson, MI and Pigeon Forge, TN in the United States.

 

"By analysing all the facts about the case and the violin, I am convinced that the violin is indeed the one Wallace Hartley played aboard Titanic and valued it enough to safeguard its survival".

 

Steve Santini has been a collector, historian and researcher of Titanic related relics for over 30 years and is regarded as a world authority in Titanic recovered items and counts being a consultant on James Cameron’s movie “Titanic” on his impressive CV:

 

"Personally, I am of the opinion that the Hartley violin exhibits exactly the sort of condition issues one could expect to see in an instrument protected in a leather suitcase floating about for a number of days in very cold seawater".

 

Paul Burns, Curator and VP of Titanic Branson and Titanic Pigeon Forge, the world’s leading Titanic museums, commented "I have been profoundly lucky to handle thousands of artefacts from throughout the world's history for more than 25 years. However, I am truly humbled by this precious violin and its provenance package, which is by far the most extensive in my personal experience".

 

John Joslyn, expedition leader of the first private exploration dive to Titanic and owner of the Titanic Museum Attractions in Branson MI and Pigeon Forge TN, said "I've explored Titanic and documented my discoveries for television and even built two giant museum attractions in tribute to this iconic ship, but when I came face-to-face with the actual violin Hartley had played that cold April night, the whole

 

Titanic experience came into focus, bringing an emotional and melancholy close to a catastrophic chapter in the Titanic story".

 

Steve Turner, is the bestselling author of The Band That Played On, the story of the Wallace Hartley and the Titanic’s band. He describes the iconic nature of the instrument.

 

"I first heard about the existence of the Hartley violin while researching my book The Band That Played On that told the stories of the eight musicians. At that time it was still undergoing forensic tests but everything I knew about it pointed to be it being the real thing and I confidently made this claim in my final chapter. As a piece of the Titanic story I can't think of another artefact so imbued with poignancy and history as the instrument on which bandleader Hartley played his favourite hymn 'Nearer, My God, To Thee' as the great ship tilted beneath the icy sea. It is a great symbol of faith, survival and enduring love."

 

Alan Aldridge, company principal of the Henry Aldridge and Son describes the collection:

 

“Bandleader Hartley was an incredibly brave man whose actions helped to calm passengers during Titanic’s last hours. The authentication process behind the collection has been a long and exhaustive one with some of the world’s leading experts in their respective fields helping to assemble a conclusive package of independent reports to accompany the archive”.

 

Andrew Aldridge, a Chartered Valuation Surveyor with Henry Aldridge and Son Auctioneer, said: “The Wallace Hartley Titanic violin is one of the most iconic collectables from the 20th century. There has been a certain element of CSI behind the research; a mixture of modern scientific techniques allied with historical research”. “It’s an exceptional price for an exceptional item, it proves owners of iconic and collectable memorabilia do not have to travel to London to sell their items, this sale has put Devizes on the map”

 

Other items in the sale included Wallace Hartley’s bag which the violin was held in which made £30000, his music portfolio and music £25000 and a rare photo of Titanic victims being recovered at sea £18000. More modest items in the auction included photographs for several thousand pounds, the violin that was played in James Cameron’s movie Titanic £12000 and even a collection of woodwork from Titanic’s sister ship Olympic £4000.

 

Press Contact: Andrew Aldridge andrew@henryaldridge.com for high resolution digital images.

 


 

A Taste of Tibet.

 


 

Henry Aldridge and Son’s latest auction of Antiques and Collectables on September 21st brought together an eclectic collection of material from around the world. The August 10th sale was dominated by a unique archive of material from the infamous 1904 Tibet Expedition led by Colonel Francis Younghusband that sold for £140000.


Henry Aldridge and Son hit the headlines again in the days preceding the auction with coverage of items being sold in the sale in both The Times and Daily Mail. The Younghusband expedition was effectively a temporary invasion by British Indian forces under the auspices of the Tibet Frontier Commission.


The expedition was intended to counter Russia's perceived ambitions in the East and was initiated largely by Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India. Curzon had long been obsessed over Russia's advance into Central Asia and now feared a Russian invasion of British India. In April 1903, the British received clear assurances from the Russian government that it had no interest in Tibet. "In spite, however, of the Russian assurances, Lord Curzon continued to press for the dispatch of a mission to Tibet," a high level British political officer noted.


The expedition fought its way to Gyantse and eventually reached Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, in August 1904. The Dalai Lama had fled to safety, first in Mongolia and later in China, but thousands of Tibetans armed with antiquated muzzle-loaders and swords had been mown down by modern rifles and Maxim machine guns while attempting to block the British advance.
Three separate collections from British Army Officers who served in the expedition went under the hammer and included both photographic material and relics from Tibet. An album of photographs of the Forbidden City of Lhasa sold to a collector for £12000 with a collection of photographs of India and Tibet making £2000, a beautifully illustrated Thangka sold to a collector in the room for £2100, a carved treen ritual Phurba £3700 and a set of monastery keys dropped by a monk and recovered by Colonel Marindin, an officer on the expedition made £2000.


There was a strong oriental flavour to the sale with numerous quality entries allied with the Tibetan items. They included a pair of spinach jade Kylins which made £1000, a Chinese Trumpet vase £2300 and an unusual silver cup by Luen Hing of Shanghai £950.


A collection of postcards comprising of Edwardian scenes of Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset proved popular selling for just above their top estimate at £1100. Further collections included Militaria, medals, Guinness, ceramics and objects of virtu. An extremely rare Jaeger Le Coultre 'Compass I' camera and accessories dating from the 1930’s caused a lot of excitement from camera collectors and sold to a telephone bidder in Cyprus against strong interest in the room for £2900. Traditional antiques attracted strong prices from members of the general public with an unusual 18th century Montgomeryshire housekeepers cupboard making £2400, a beautiful early 19th century Yew hall chair selling to a phone bidder from London for £1200 and an oil on canvas by Arthur Gordon of the Thames £800.


Prices for silver and jewellery were as strong as ever, particular highlights were an 18ct Gold Rolex Gentleman’s Oyster Perpetual Daydate wristwatch which made £6400, a stunning vintage 1960’s Rolex GMT Master Chronometer at £5200 and a vintage Brietling Chronomat in need of attention £700.


Henry Aldridge and Son’s next auction is on October 19th which will feature the world famous Wallace Hartley Titanic violin which was viewed by over 300000 people while on tour at Titanic Branson and Pigeon Forge in the United States. The auctioneers are now accepting entries for their November 2nd Collectables and Antiques auction. Please visit www.henry-aldridge.com or contact Andrew Aldridge BA Hons MRICS Chartered Arts and Antiques Surveyor at andrew@henryaldridge.com or 01380 729199 for further details.

 


 

Iconic Younghusband Expedition

Items Sell for £140000 in Devizes

 

 

Gilt Mahakala that sold for £77000 and BBC Flog It! Presenter Paul Martin with a Rare Sino Tibetian Teapot featured in the show that sold for £2200

Henry Aldridge and Son’s first antiques and collectables sale of the summer on August 10th was one to remember. Alan and Andrew Aldridge spent July travelling around the region apprising a fascinating array of collectables for sale, a number of which went under the hammer with record breaking results. The pre-sale publicity for the auction was dominated by a unique archive of material from the infamous 1904 Tibet Expedition led by Colonel Francis Younghusband that was sold for £140000 by the Wiltshire Auctioneers with the Worldwide Reputation.

The expedition was effectively a temporary invasion by British Indian forces under the auspices of the Tibet Frontier Commission. One of its most controversial elements of was the massacre of Chumik Shenko, one officer at the time wrote "I got so sick of the slaughter that I ceased fire, though the general’s order was to make as big a bag as possible," wrote Lieutenant Arthur Hadow, commander of the Maxim guns detachment. "I hope I shall never again have to shoot down men walking away".

The archive was sold via direct descent from an Officer on the expedition and included over 140 original photographs taken during the campaign, it was first time the British were given access to the country. The images depicted the haunting beauty of the secluded country and brought pictures of Tibetan landscapes to the west for the first time including both military and civilian scenes. Estimated at £8000-£12000, they sold to a telephone bidder for just over £12000.

 

The sale also numbered material brought back by Captain Haymen from the expedition that included a small group of religious icons. Highlights were a Sino Tibetan deity gilt on white metal set with the remains of turquoise jewels showing Ushnishavijaya, measuring only 5ins in height it sold for an impressive £45000 and a truly stunning Sino Tibetan deity gilt on copper of Mahakala standing on a human figure holding a skull cap & chopper with a garland of skulls around his shoulders and waist, embellished with small turquoise, pink and blue stone mounted on a lotus stand. Although small in stature at 8ins it sold for £77000 to a buyer in the room against competition from phone bidders in China, Hong-Kong and the United States.

 

The BBC Flog It! Cameras were in attendance to witness the record breaking prices in the saleroom and had a number of surprises of their own, not least a silver and brass teapot also from the Younghusband expedition that was estimated by one of the Flog It! Experts at £80-£120 making £2200, a very fine and highly desirable Longines oversized silver pilot's wristwatch with sweep centre seconds and Weems second setting system made £4800 and a collection of 1960’s/70’s movie posters that went to a collector for a shade under £3000. A group of gold coins also sold well at £4000 proving the market was still strong.

A good section of Antique furniture went under the hammer on the 10th, with pieces from shortly after the Civil war being sold alongside material from the Aesthetic and Arts and Crafts movements of the late 19th and early 20th century. A beautiful early Georgian oak Dresser made £2300, a pair of 19th century card tables £3000, a Carolean oak chest of drawers £1600 and a lovely George III serpentine fronted chest of drawers achieved £1200.

 

Henry Aldridge are now accepting entries for their September 21st Collectables and Antiques auction as well as holding their next free valuation day on August 29th. Please visit www.henry-aldridge.com or contact Andrew Aldridge BA Hons MRICS Chartered Arts and Antiques Surveyor at andrew@henryaldridge.com for further details.

 


 

 

Champion Prices at Devizes Saleroom


Henry Aldridge and Son’s first antiques and collectables sale of the summer on Saturday June 22nd was a resounding success. An unusual array of antiques and collectables were on offer but one particular lot attracted a little more attention than the others. The first official team sheet that Manchester United Legend Sir Alex Ferguson who was arguably the finest manager in the history of football used for his first match in charge of the Red Devils went under the hammer. The level of interest came from all four corners of the globe with collectors from as far afield as China, Australia and the United States looking to aquire it. The Football League sheet signed by Sir Alex was submitted for the Oxford United match played at the Manor Ground on November 8th 1986. Manchester United lost 2-0 which was an inauspicious start to a dynasty that yielded a record 13 Premier League titles and Two Champions Leagues among its haul of over 30 trophies. The team in November 1986 was a little different to the star studied affair for Sir Alex’s last game in charge that included global stars such as Robin Van Persie. The first match included names such as Chris Turner in goal, Paul McGrath at Centre Back and Peter Davenport up front. The vendor was a lifelong Oxford fan from Wiltshire and it was given to him by Peter Rhoades Brown, an Oxford player as a souvenir. A number of telephone bidders competed with online bids and those in the room, the successful purchaser paid £19500.


Other items that sold well included a pair of Doulton Hannah Barlow stoneware vases that made £1400, a Rolex Airking that made £1500, a set of gold spoons £7300, two gold pocket watches £2200 and a Jaeger Atmos clock £2100.
Henry Aldridge’s next auction is already looking to be one to remember with entries now being invited. The Wiltshire Auctioneers with the Worldwide reputation are holding their next free valuation day on the July 4th.


Please visit www.henry-aldridge.com or contact Andrew Aldridge BA Hons MRICS Chartered Arts and Antiques Surveyor at andrew@henryaldridge.com for further details.

 


The Dawn of a Dynasty

 

 

Henry Aldridge and Son’s first antiques and collectables sale of the summer is on Saturday June 22nd. An unusual array of antiques and collectables will be on offer but one particular lot is destined to attract a little more attention than the others. The first official team sheet that Manchester United Legend and arguably the finest manager in the history of football for his first match in charge of the Red Devils will be going under the hammer. The Football League sheet signed by Sir Alex that was submitted for the Oxford United match played at the Manor Ground on November 8th 1986. Manchester United lost 2-0 which was an inauspicious start to a dynasty that yielded a record 13 Premier League titles and Two Champions Leagues among its haul of over 30 trophies. The team in November 1986 was a little different to the star studied affair for Sir Alex’s last game in charge that included global stars such as Robin Van Persie. The first match included names such as Chris Turner in goal, Paul McGrath at Centre Back and Peter Davenport up front. The present owner is a lifelong Oxford fan and it was given to him by Peter Rhoades Brown, an Oxford player as a souvenir. There has been significant interest from all over the world in the item so far due to the press coverage it has achieved.The auction also has a number of collections of different types. These range from over 400 pieces of Crown Devon ware to a significant collection of Black Forest bears of various sizes and styles.


The military section contains a particularly fascinating lot which will command significant interest. It is a Samuel and Sons of London South Lancashire Regimental drum. However behind the façade this item has a fascinating story, it carries an inscription dated 27/5/40. Saved from Dunkirk by Gunner Dolan 174/56 Highland Medium Regiment RA. It was given to the vendor’s father who was a military tailor in lieu of a debt while Gunner Dolan was serving in Larkhill during the war. Gunner Taylor recovered the drum from the sea hence its warped frame and water staining.


Henry Aldridge will be holding their next free valuation day on the June 20th with entries still being accepted for what promises to be an exciting Antiques and Collectables sale on the 22nd June. Please visit www.henry-aldridge.com or contact Andrew Aldridge BA Hons MRICS Chartered Arts and Antiques Surveyor at andrew@henryaldridge.com for further details.

 


 

 

Iconic “Titanic violin” exclusively on display in America at Titanic Museum Attractions before going up for auction in England
 

Famous violin survived historic RMS Titanic sinking and belonged to storied Titanic bandmaster, Wallace Hartley


Pigeon Forge, Tenn. – For the first and only time in the United States, the iconic violin, depicted in Titanic-themed movies and used by Wallace Hartley on Titanic, will be on display at the Titanic Museum Attractions in Pigeon Forge, TN, and Branson, MO, announces Titanic Museum Attractions’ owner, John Joslyn.


According to Joslyn, this unique artefact was unveiled to the American public on Wednesday, May 22 during a packed media conference at 10 a.m. at Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge. It will remain there until Saturday, July 27 before it travels to the Titanic Museum Attraction’s sister-location in Branson. It will be on display in Branson, Thursday, Aug. 1 through Thursday, Aug. 15 prior to it travelling back to England where it will be auctioned off by Henry Aldridge and Son on Saturday, Oct. 19.


Widely regarded as the world’s leading experts in the sale of RMS Titanic memorabilia, Henry Aldridge and Son have unparalleled experience in auctioning the rarest memorabilia ever to be offered and describe the Hartley Violin as “the Holy Grail.”

 

“My visit to Pigeon Forge with the Hartley Violin is the culmination of nearly seven years of research,” said Alan Aldridge, Principal of Henry Aldridge and Son. “I hope my visit to the Titanic Museum Attractions will enable their guests to understand the importance of the Wallace Hartley story.”


This historic violin has had its share of controversy. However, with the assistance of some leading experts in their respective fields, an extensive provenance package exists and according to officials with the Titanic Museum Attractions and leading independent Titanic experts, the violin belongs to Wallace Hartley.


Craig Sopin, leading Titanic artefact expert and owner of the one of the world’s largest private collections of Titanic artefacts, believes in the violin’s authenticity.


“To say I was sceptical at first would be an understatement,” said Sopin. “But, after I conducted an exhaustively detailed investigation into the history and forensics of the instrument, I became convinced beyond doubt that this violin belonged to Wallace Hartley and that it was with him on RMS Titanic.”


Joslyn explains that in addition to Sopin and Aldridge, other experts, including a forensic scientist, noted violin and silver/jewellery experts, collectors and historians all agree that the violin is authentic.


For example, as per analysis and testing performed by Michael Jones, a 29-year veteran of forensic science and former employee of the United Kingdom’s Home Office Forensic Science Service, the violin is compatible with immersion in seawater. The FSS was a government-owned company in the U.K. which provided forensic science services to the police forces and government agencies of England and Wales, as well as other countries.


“In my opinion, the findings in relation to the corrosion associated with the metal fixtures of the travel case in which the violin was recovered, and also the silver fish plate attached to the violin would be considered compatible with immersion in seawater,” said Jones. “The results compared were compatible with material that had been recovered from other Titanic victims including Titanic postal worker, Oscar Woody and third-class passenger, Carl Asplund.”


Another such expert convinced of the violin’s authenticity is Stanley Lehrer, the world’s foremost and largest Titanic collector. “By analysing all the facts about the case and the violin, I am convinced that the violin is indeed the one Wallace Hartley played aboard Titanic and valued it enough to safeguard its survival,” explains Lehrer.


Due to this historical exhibit, special ticketed, VIP private previews of the Wallace Hartley Violin exhibit, limited to only 25 persons will be offered daily beginning at 8:30 a.m., starting Thursday, May 23. Reservations are required.


Joslyn says the Titanic Museum Attractions plan to donate a portion of all ticket sales to Strings Crossings, an intensive summer camp for violin, viola, cello and bass students in grades eight through 12 conducted at Belmont University’s comprehensive School of Music.


Additional information about the Wallace Hartley Violin exhibit and other special VIP events at the Titanic Museum Attractions can be found online at www.titanicattraction.com.

 

The Titanic Museum Attractions opens daily at 9 a.m. Reservations for tours are required. Passengers may purchase regular tickets online at www.titanicattraction.com or to find out more information on the early morning VIP tour by phone at (800) 381-7670.

 


 

 

MEDIA RELEASE

 

Flog It! comes to Longleat

 

 

The popular BBC One antiques programme Flog It! presented by Paul Martin, is coming to Wiltshire on Thursday 18th July.

 

Flog It! – the major BBC antiques show is now on its twelfth series and regularly achieves an audience of over two million viewers in its weekday afternoon slot.

 

Longleat House and gardens will be hosting the Flog It! valuation day.  Rather like a treasure hunt, members of the public are invited to bring along up to three antiques and collectables they might be interested in selling. Once valued, the owner and a team of experts decide whether an item should go forward for auction.  If the item is chosen it is included in a sale a few weeks later –hopefully when the auctioneers hammer falls its owners make a tidy sum.  Everyone who goes along to the Valuation Day will receive a free valuation – even if their antiques are not chosen to go forward for auction.

 

Last year the show made a significant find when a rare Aboriginal Broad Shield that had been kept hidden away in a Flog It! viewers wardrobe was brought along to a valuation day in North Lincolnshire and went on to sell at auction for £30,000! The series also uncovered an unusual Royal Doulton Spook figurine in Blackpool which had been bought at a car boot sale for £2; it went on to sell at auction for £5000.

 

Louise Hibbins, Series Producer says “Paul Martin and the entire Flog It! team are really pleased to be bringing the show to Wiltshire. Longleat will provide the perfect setting for our valuation day event; our experts are all looking forward to welcoming people along for their free valuations.  If you’ve ever wondered how much your boot sale bargains or clutter in the loft might be worth, now is your chance to find out.”

 

Longleat media manager, Steve Mytton says: “It’s fantastic to have Flog It! come to Longleat. The House and gardens will provide the perfect backdrop for the programme as well as a place for people to discover what their antiques are really worth. With over 450 years of history within the House and estate in addition to all the antiques expected to be brought here I’m sure Flog It! will feel right at home!”


 

 

Paul Martin who lives in the village of Seend near Melksham will be joined on the valuation day by Flog It! on screen experts David Fletcher, Mark Stacey and Michael Baggott.

 

Flog It! will be at Longleat House, Longleat, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 7NW on Thursday 18th July between 09:30am and 4pm. The items selected at the valuation day will go under the hammer at Henry Aldridge & Son Auctioneers, Unit 1 Bath Road Business Centre, Bath Road, Devizes, Wiltshire, SN10 1XA on Saturday 10th August.

 

 

Contact:           flog.it@bbc.co.uk

                        www.bbc.co.uk/flogit             

 

 


 

“This is a fine ship & there ought to be plenty of money on her”

Wallace Hartley letter written onboard Titanic sold for a record price.

 

 

Henry Aldridge and Son, the world’s leading auctioneers of Titanic memorabilia held their latest auction of Titanic collectables to commemorate the 101st anniversary of the loss of the Royal Mail Steamer Titanic on April 20th 2013. RMS Titanic left Southampton on April 10th 1912 on the start of a journey which ended in tragedy in the cold North Atlantic on April 14th 1912 with the loss of over 1500 lives.

 

The principal lots in the auction had travelled to Belfast City Hall together with the famous Wallace Hartley violin and had been viewed by over 16000 people from all over the world in only four days. In addition to this the sale had been on view at Henry Aldridge and Son’s Devizes auction rooms in the week preceding the auction with visitors from as far afield as Canada and Australia viewing them.

 

Wallace Hartley was the bandmaster on the Titanic, He is perhaps the most identifiable and iconic figure of the disaster, remembered along with his seven other band members for playing on until the very last moments. Indeed, they arguably saved many lives by helping to keep the passengers calm and, thus, avoiding panic.

 

The band and Hartley in particular, have been depicted as the ship's heroes in virtually every genre including postcards, song sheets, books, stage and films-as well as history. None of the band survived. Incredibly this letter was mentioned in a press interview with Wallace Harleys mother Elizabeth in the Dewsbury News on April 27th 1912. The letter was written on adjoining sheets of on-board Titanic stationery with company watermark and hand dated by Hartley on April 10th 1912.

 

It bears the red embossed White Star Line house burgee. Hartley writes to his parents on the first day of sailing, in full:

 

Just a line to say we have got away all right. It's been a bit of a rush but I am just getting a little settled. This is a fine ship & there ought to be plenty of money on her. I've missed coming home very much & it would have been nice to have seen you all if only for an hour or two, but I couldn't manage it. We have a fine band & the boys seem very nice. I have had to buy some linen & I sent my washing home today by post. I shall probably arrive home on the Sunday morning. We are due here on the Saturday. I'm glad mother's foot is better."

 

We are unaware of any other surviving letter written by Hartley on board the ship. Clearly, this letter which mentions the band and eludes to the wealth on-board the ship (implying that some of it would make its way to the band in the form of gratuities). A number of phone bidders from around the world tried to acquire this item and it was sold to a collector from the United States for over £93000.

 

Hartley was born in June 1878 making him 33 years old at the time of the disaster.As a musician, he travelled as a Second Class passenger. He did not survive the sinking and his body was recovered by the cable ship Mackay-Bennett and assigned body No. 224. His body was returned to his home town of Colne, Lancashire where Hartley received a very large funeral. The first part of the Wallace Hartley/Maria Robinson archive also went under the hammer alongside the other items in the sale. The collection was spread between buyers from the US, Canada and Great Britain. Items sold included items recovered from Mr Hartley’s body selling for over £25000 to items from his fiancée Miss Robinson such as a gold Colne memorial medal for £600 and a gold locket showing Wallace for £2200.

 

Captain Edward J. Smith was the Master of the Titanic and any material relating to his in incredibly rare. Henry Aldridge were privileged to be auctioning the private collection of his only daughter Helen. It included a letter written in 1906 onboard the Baltic from Smith, the rarity of this items lies in the fact that it shows a completely different side to then man known as the “Millionaires Captain”.

 

“My Dear Daughter

I could not catch a little bunny to send you in my letter! I send you a card by this little bird. I hope mother + you + Gladys are well. I shall soon be home (D.V. Your loving Daddy)”

 

Captain Smith had sketched a small song bird with an envelope on the letter. This letter represents a unique insight into Captain Smith as a family man rather than his public persona. It was with its original envelope handwritten by Smith and addressed to Miss H.M. Smith, a private collector from the UK bought the letter for £8000. Also included in the archive are personal items and a collection of previously unseen photographs of Smith, these sold for over £4000.

 

Other lots in the auction include a rare promotional poster of Titanic £5500, a rare photograph of Titanic as she left Queenstown £4000 and a first class door and surround from Titanic’s sister ship £5000.

 

Henry Aldridge and Son are now accepting entries for our October 19th Titanic and Transport auction, items already consigned include a very rare Montague Black promotional poster of Titanic estimated at £30000-£40000. Please visit www.henry-aldridge.com for further details.