07/10/2011...4:26 pm

Titanic treasures: A heartwarming tale

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Although not many of the stories surrounding the passengers on the ill-fated passenger liner RMS Titanic have a happy ending, we’ve found one that does … but it’ll cost you.

When the “unsinkable” Titanic side-swiped an iceberg and foundered in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic in the early hours of 15 April, 1912, the relatively small number of survivors were rescued by Cunard‘s RMS Carpathia. Carpathia, another transatlantic passenger steamship, was the nearest ship to the Titanic when the distress call went out. Harold Cottam, Carpathia’s wireless operator, received the Titanic’s distress call — and he’s central to this feel-good story.

When Cottam received the distress call, he alerted Carpathia Captain Arthur Henry Rostron, who sped to the Titanic’s last-known coordinates – at a top speed of 17 knots – arriving hours after the boat had gone down. Still, he managed to save more than 700 lives. Once the Titanic’s survivors were safely onboard Carpathia, telegram forms were filled out, and Cottam, along with the Titanic’s wireless operator, spent hours transmitting them to survivors’ families.

Titanic Treasure

Caption: The telegram, handwritten in pencil, reads as follows: "(To) William Mansfield, Washington St., Morristown, New Jersey. Safe on Carpathia Telephone friends Newark New York, Burns." The name Carpathia and the date, April 18, 1912, have been handwritten in pencil on the front, and the charges have been handwritten (pencil and red ink). The transmitter has handwritten the time it was sent, 6:30pm, in pencil as well.

Now, almost 100 years later, one of the survivor’s telegrams has gone up for sale on the memorabilia Web site Gotta Have It!. Originally from a sale of memorabilia from White Star (the cruise line that owned the Titanic), this is the last of a set that the Web site purchased — and it’s the best, according to site owner Pete Siegel.

“It’s two-sided,” Siegel said, “so whoever gets it gets two-for-one.”

The document is priced at $3900, American.

–Jamey Bergman

Morbid curiosity or memorial tribute? Strong opinions on the Titanic Memorial Cruises.

Belfast celebrates 100 years: Take a look at the Titanic Memorial project.


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