Photo of iceberg that allegedly sank the Titanic goes up for auction


posted Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 10:30 AM EST


Is this or is it not an image of the iceberg that sank the Titanic? That's what potential buyers will have to consider when a photograph purportedly of the infamous iceberg goes up for auction at RR Auction in Nashua, N.H. next month.

The photo was captured by the captain of another steam ship, the S.S. Etonian, just two days before the tragic collision that sank the Titanic and caused the loss of 1,502 lives. 

While collecting Titanic memorabilia is perhaps something of a gruesome business, most artifacts that have gone on auction from the doomed ship bear a more direct lineage to the tragic event. In this case though, it's mostly photographic guesswork.

In a caption to the photo, the master of the Etonian, Captain W.F. Wood, describes the iceberg as a "blueberg" that was tinted blue from the sun's rays when he shot the picture. The photo was taken from a spot that was conceivably two or three days travel time from the Titanic.


Whether it's actually the infamous berg struck by the Titanic is an open question, though. There are no surviving photographs of the iceberg taken from the Titanic's deck, nor could the berg be absolutely identified after the sinking. (The appearance of an iceberg can change radically in a relatively short space of time, as most of their bulk is below water and they're prone to suddenly rolling over without warning due to uneven melting.)

There are, however, a number of candidates photographed after the sinking. The most convincing of these is one with a red paint mark at its base suggesting it had recently been struck by a ship, photographed from by the chief steward German liner, then unaware of Titanic's demise.

With that said, some sketches from sailors on board the ship -- including the one below by Joseph Scarrott who produced it from memory after he survived the sinking -- do bear a resemblance to the iceberg in Wood's photo.

When asked about the iceberg during a British inquiry into the disaster, Titanic survivor and crewman Scarrott described it as resembling "the Rock of Gibraltar."

In the video preview below issued by RR Auction, Stanley Lehrer, a Titanic collector and historian, says that the captain of the Etonian captured the photo because he "was fascinated by the unusual shape of the iceberg. This particular iceberg had an ellipse at the top right of the iceberg."

"In my professional judgement, this iceberg is the one that sank the Titanic," Lehrer says in the video.

Bidding for the 9.75 x 8-inch photo -- which is fixed on a 13 x 11-inch mount -- begins on December 13th and ends on December 16th. It is expected to fetch between US$8,000 and US$10,000. More details on the photo here.

Hear more of Lehrer's remarks about the photo, beginning at the 1:52 mark of the video above.

(Via Yahoo News)