Titanic postcard and brochure up for auction

  • Published
Postcard bought on the Titanic
Image caption,
The postcard which is up for auction on Saturday

A postcard written on the Titanic by a passenger in third class who died along with nine members of her family is expected to fetch up to £15,000 at auction this weekend.

The card was posted at Cobh in County Cork, then known as Queenstown, three days before the Belfast-built luxury liner sank on its maiden voyage in April 1912, with the loss of more than 1,500 lives.

It will now go under the hammer along with a rare promotional brochure in Danish for the ship which has a presale estimate of £6,000 to £10,000.

The postcard was sent by Eliza Johnston to her father-in-law William J Johnston and describes how excited the six children in her company were to be on the vessel.

Eliza, 34 and her husband Andrew - a 35-year-old plumber from Aberdeen - were emigrating to Connecticut in the US after being lured by stories of a better quality of life.

In their party were their two children, as well as Eliza's sister Margaret and her husband and their four children.

Eliza purchased the postcard on board the Titanic after leaving Southampton and before docking at Queenstown.

More than 700 third class passengers died when the ship sank. None of their bodies were recovered.

Auctioneers Henry Aldridge and Son are selling the card and the brochure at their rooms in Devizes, Wiltshire, this Saturday.

Andrew Aldridge from the firm explained the significance of the items which were provided by private collectors from Scotland and the US.

"The postcard is very important because there are not a lot of postcards from the Titanic in possession," he said.

"It appears the recipient, the father-in-law, kept it in a cupboard or drawer for many decades, they are normally faded in some way, but the condition of this one is exceptional.

"The brochure is one of only a handful known to exist, the vast majority of brochures for third class on the Titanic were just disposed of.

"Anything to do with third class is rarer than first class, there was probably more first class material on the Titanic printed.

"The brochure was a promotional item to attract people to the ship.

"It was also said third class accommodation on the Titanic was the equivalent of a second class berth on other vessels."


Mr Aldridge said the world record price for a Titanic item at auction had been reached when it sold the keys to the ship's post room for £105,000 in 2007.

He said records had also been set at its premises for the sale of a watch from the Titanic (£94,000), and a "piece of ephemera" from the liner, a letter which fetched £55,000 earlier this year.

Image caption,
The rare promotional brochure for the Titanic which will go under the hammer

The auctioneer gave his own view on why the vessel continues to have a magnetic pull for collectors.

"There is just something about the Titanic, it captures people's imagination," he added.

"It was the biggest vessel of its time, the most technologically advanced of its time and the biggest disaster of its time.

"People are fascinated with anything to do with it.

"The Titanic story itself is made up of 2,200 different subplots.

"Each one represents a passenger or a crewman with a story to tell, that is why people are interested.

"It is not the nuts and bolts, it is the people."