LONDON – A letter written by an American first-class passenger aboard the Titanic sold Saturday at auction for $153,000, a record price for a note written by someone on the ill-fated ocean liner.
Alexander Oskar Holverson, a salesman, wrote the letter to his mother on April 13, 1912, on embossed Titanic stationery and tucked it away in his pocketbook. In it, Holverson describes a “giant” ship “fitted up like a palatial hotel.” He also mentions seeing millionaire John Jacob Astor sitting on a deck of the vessel:
“He looks like any other human even tho he has millions of money.”
In the most poignant mention, Holverson writes, “If all goes well we will arrive in New York Wednesday A.M.”
The next day, the British passenger ship hit an iceberg and eventually sank, killing more than 1,500 people.
Holverson and his wife, Mary, had boarded the Titanic in Southampton, England, on their way back home to New York. She survived but he did not. The letter was recovered, along with his body, and given to his mother, according to the Henry Aldridge & Son auction house in Devizes, England.
Although many of the words remain legible, the letter is heavily water-stained.
“It’s not in good condition,” auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said in a phone interview Sunday. “It has been in the North Atlantic and survived a major disaster, so the fact it’s even there at all is quite incredible. It’s not easy, but it’s readable.”
Who bought it?
“I can’t tell you,” Aldridge said, “but it was a collector based in the U.K. who just collects iconic items from history.”
“This will go into a personal collection,” he added. “However, a lot of his items are in museums around the world. What he tends to do is to buy the items and put them on loan to museums for people to enjoy. That’s the general pattern so far.”
The record for any piece of Titanic memorabilia, Aldridge said, was “for the Titanic violin, which we sold four years ago for 1.1 million pounds” (or $1.45 million in today’s dollars).
Alexander Holverson was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in New York.