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Titanic victim's letter sells for record price

October 22, 2017

A letter written by a passenger a day before Titanic sank was sold at an auction for $166,000. The handwritten note on embossed Titanic stationery is one of the last known to have been written on board the doomed liner.

A stained letter written by Titanic-Passanger Alexander Oskar Holverson
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/Henry Aldridge and Son Actioneers

A personal letter written by first-class passenger Alexander Oskar Holverson on board the Titanic, then the largest ocean liner in service, has sold for the highest price ever paid for correspondence from the ill-fated ocean liner.

The handwritten letter, found in Holverson's pocket notebook when his body was recovered, sold at an auction on Saturday for 126,000 pounds ($166,000, €141,000).

The letter is one of the last known to have survived the disaster more than a century ago. The letter on embossed Titanic stationery still bears saltwater stains.

Auction house Henry Aldridge & Son, which specializes in Titanic memorabilia, said the letter was "the most important Titanic letter we have ever auctioned" because of its content, historical context and rarity.

Alexander und Mary Holverson posing together
Holverson seen here posing with wife, Mary Alice, who survived the sinking.Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/Henry Aldridge and Son Actioneers

Poignant letter

In the letter addressed to his mother, Holverson described the Titanic as "a giant in size and fitted up like a palatial hotel." He also praised its food and drinks.

"If all goes well we will arrive in New York Wednesday A.M.," Holverson wrote, a day before the ocean liner struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912 in the Atlantic while travelling from Southampton, UK to New York. Holverson was among the 1,500 people who died.

Holverson's wife, Mary Alice, who accompanied him on the journey, survived the accident.

Minnesota-born Holverson, a salesman, had intended to post the letter to his mother, who lived in New York.

In the letter he also described his impressions of American financier and real-estate investor John Jacob Astor, who was one of the world's richest men at the time.

"John Jacob Astor is on this ship," he said. "He looks like any other human being even though he has millions of money. They sit out on deck with the rest of us."

ap/ng (Reuters, AP)

A huge panoramic image of the Titanic