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Is Old Violin Worth Titanic Expense?

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Wallace Hartley

The H.M.S. Titanic was back in the news this week, as British auction house Henry Aldridge and Son announced its intent to sell the violin of Wallace Hartley, the Associated Press (AP) reports. Hartley led the liner’s legendary deck band, and his hundred-year-old instrument is expected to fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to the AP, the auction house spent thousands of pounds over several years to acquire the forensic evidence needed to determine that the violin was in fact Hartley’s. “It’s been a long haul,” auctioneer Andrew Aldridge offered, noting that the find originally seemed “too good to be true,” the AP reports.

But two Titanic experts located here in the Valley aren’t buying it.

Ed and Karen Kamuda, who have operated Springfield’s Titanic Museum and Historical Society for 50 years, say there is no way the violin on the auction block belonged to Hartley.

“If [the violin] is as claimed, why is the only mention of it surviving when it is offered for sale?” Karen Kamuda asked in an email to the Advocate. “The auctioneer provides a descriptive writeup of an artifact supposedly from the Titanic to a couple of newspapers in the U.K., the wire services pick it up and he gets publicity, interest and high expectations from the result.”

The Kamudas explained that they have a copy of the Nova Scotia Public Records and Management’s original list of personal effects recovered from the Titanic.

“There was no violin in the list for Wallace Hartley,” their email continued. “For us, that is the story. If it isn’t listed, it wasn’t on Hartley’s body.”•

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