Wallace Hartley violin
IT’S expected to become one of the world’s most expensive musical instruments.
The violin played by Titanic bandleader Wallace Hartley – a former Huddersfield musician – is to be auctioned on April 20.
Final scientific tests are underway to prove its authenticity, but it is expected to sell for hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The auctioneers have details of how Hartley’s fiance gave the instrument to him after their engagement and the anonymous owner claims she retrieved the violin after his death.
Violinist Hartley was the leader of the eight-piece band who sacrificed their own hopes of survival and played hymns in an attempt to calm passengers on the doomed liner which sank with the loss of more than 1,500 lives in the early hours of Monday, April 15, 1912, after striking an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.
Hartley, 33, was born in Colne in Lancashire, but lived in Huddersfield for several years before moving to Dewsbury.
He played with the Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra.
He famously led the Titanic band in playing the hymn Nearer My God To Thee according to reports in the final moments before the so-called ‘unsinkable ship’ slipped to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean.
The violin is to be auctioned by Titanic experts Henry Aldridge and Son based in Devizes, Wiltshire.
It has passed all other tests over the past seven years and the results of the last investigation are due early next month.
A plan of the Titanic used in the inquiry into the doomed ship sold for a record £220,000 in 2011, but it is believed the instrument will exceed this price.
The anonymous seller of the violin claims that Maria Robinson, Hartley’s bereaved fiancé, retrieved the violin after his death. The instrument had been a gift from her.
Newspapers at the time reported that Hartley was found fully dressed with his violin strapped to his chest. However, when the effects of Body 224 were itemised by The Office of the Provincial Secretary in Nova Scotia there was no mention of it.