2012: Year of the Titanic

Well folks. It’s 2012–the 100-year anniversary of the Titanic. Anticipation has been building for years and April 15 is fast approaching (day of the two big T’s–taxes and Titanic, of course). A handful of people are reportedly laying down $60,000 to look at the wreck through a porthole on a Russian sub on the hallowed 100th. Russians are not the only ones cashing in on the anniversary buzz.

part of Titanic auction bloc

As the AP reported last week:

The owner of the largest trove of artifacts salvaged from the Titanic is putting the vast collection up for auction as a single lot in 2012, the 100th anniversary of the world’s most famous shipwreck.

More than 5,500 items including fine china, ship fittings and portions of hull that were recovered from the ocean liner have an estimated value of $189 million, according to Premier Exhibitions Inc., parent of RMS Titanic Inc. — the Titanic’s court-approved salvor.

The auction date is April 1 but the results will not be announced until the anniversary. I’ve addressed some of the larger concerns with selling our finite cultural heritage to the highest bidder before (see here) so no need to repeat. Fortunately, the Titanic collection cannot be sold piecemeal because of a legal agreement between the company and the federal government. Even better, material salvaged from the Titanic must, according to convenant, be available “to present and future generations for public display and exhibition, historical review, scientific and scholarly research, and educational purposes.” A reasonable compromise for an “international treasure.”

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10 Comments

Filed under Shipwreck culture, Shipwreck Kitsch

10 responses to “2012: Year of the Titanic

  1. Thank you for reminding the date! I think the auction is wrong. Nice blog.

    Best wishes from Berlin,

    Tibor

  2. Interesting! I’ll have to read that old post of yours sometime. I thought treasure found out in sea was just that “found treasure”. But it makes sense that governments, loved ones, and the original owners would want to recoup their losses – even hundred year old losses. I hadn’t even thought of the cultural issues…

    • Jamin Wells

      Thanks for the comment — It gets tricky, especially for iconic wrecks like the Titanic. Unfortunately, it’s not just free loot siting on the bottom of the ocean. Treasure–submerged cultural material–is significant to all types of people for all types of reasons. Even more, it’s a rare tangible link to our collective history. Think then sell is a good motto, and this sale of Titanic material seems to be as above the board as could possible.

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