A photo set for an auction that kicks off Thursday might contain one of modern history's most famous natural villains.
On the evening of April 14, 1912, on a rare calm, clear and moonless night in the North Atlantic, the Titanic's starboard side glanced off an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. The massive ship had been speeding (around 22 knots or 25 mph) dangerously close to an ice field and may have course-corrected away from it and accidentally maneuvered directly into the path of the deadly berg in the photograph.
The vessel, the largest in the world at the time and famously on its maiden voyage from England to the United States, sank two-and-a-half hours later, taking the lives of 1,502 people. When rescue ships arrived later that morning, they were stunned to find themselves surrounded by ice. According to the captain of the Carpathia, the ship that was first on the scene, more than 20 large bergs (some estimated at over 100 feet tall) were observed.
In the century since the sinking, photos have surfaced of some of the suspected icebergs that Titanic may have collided with. What makes this photo different is that it was captured two days before the sinking - and actually matches up with another iceberg found in the disaster area.
The rare original 9.75 x 8 photo of the "blueberg," photographed by Captain W. F. Wood of the S. S. Etonian on April 12, 1912, is being placed on the auction block by RR Auctions. The company expects the shot to go for between $8,000 and $10,000.
According to the listing, there's reason to believe this iceberg might be the culprit, based on drawings by surviving members of Titanic's crew - as well as another photo taken from another angle from the German ship Prinz Adalbert on the morning of the sinking. Seaman Joseph Scarrott, who spied the berg once the ship had passed it, said it resembled in shape "the Rock of Gibraltar" with its highest point to the right.
"The fact that the particular iceberg in the Etonian image offered here is known to have been photographed at a position arguably two to three days' iceberg travel time to Titanic's foundering position, and that it substantially matches both the sketches drawn by Titanic's crewmen and the photo taken after the ship went down, allows noted Titanic experts to establish this photograph as capturing the iceberg everyone has been talking about for the past century," the listing says.
The auction will end on Dec. 16.
Here is the link to the auction item listing: www.rrauction.com/preview_itemdetail.cfm?IN=42