Leather case for violin used on the Titanic to reassure passengers as the ship sank is set to sell for £120,000 at auction

5th April 2024

A leather case that protected the violin played by the bandmaster on the Titanic as the ship sank is tipped to sell for £120,000 at auction.

Wallace Hartley and his orchestral band famously played on to reassure the passengers as the 1912 disaster unfolded around them.

Wallace went down with the ship but not before he put his wooden violin back in its valise bag which he strapped to himself - possibly for buoyancy - using the long handles.

Days after the sinking in which 1,522 people died, Wallace's drowned body was recovered with the bag still attached to him.

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The violin and the case were later returned to Wallace's fiancee, Maria Robinson, back home in Colne, Lancs.

After she died in 1939 the items were donated to the Bridlington Salvation Army band.

One of its members was a music teacher and they gifted the violin to one of their pupils in the 1940s.

Years later it was inherited by her son who sold it at auction for a world record price of £1.1m after forensic tests and CT scans confirmed it was the one played on the Titanic 101 years before.

The instrument - the most valuable Titanic-related item in existence - is now on display at the Titanic Belfast Museum.

The 26ins x 14ins x 12ins case, which has Wallace's initials of WHH on it, is now being sold at auction for £100,000 to £120,000. It belongs to a private collector.

Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge if Henry Aldridge & Son of Devixes, Wilts, said: 'Wallace Hartley's violin is the most iconic piece of Titanic memorabilia ever sold at auction.

'However, it would not have survived if it were not for this valise case made of English coach hide.

'The long straps would have been used by Wallace to strap the bag to himself as the Titanic was sinking. It served to protect the instrument against the salt seawater.

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'The bag was forensically tested and corrosion deposits were recovered from the lock mechanism and metalwork and they were found to be consistent with it having been immersed in seawater.

'The bag is one of the largest pieces of luggage to have survived the disaster.

'It is a tangible link to the Titanic and represents an integral part of the Hartley violin's journey from Titanic to the present day.'

Wallace Hartley was given the maple, spruce and ebony violin with the brown leather case by Maria Robinson in 1910.

Two years later he was the bandleader on the Titanic for its doomed, maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.


To maintain calm, the eight-piece orchestra was moved on deck and played songs while the passengers were loaded into lifeboats as the liner sunk having hit an iceberg.

Mr Hartley, 33, was one of the 1,522 people who perished in the tragedy.

After his body was recovered it is believed the valise case was listed as 'luggage' under his personal effects.

The bag is going under the hammer on April 27. Being sold alongside it is a rare order of service for Wallace's funeral that was held on May 18, 1912, at Colne cemetery.

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