Stephen Hines

May 17, 2012
As author/editor of Titanic: One Newspaper, Seven Days, and the Truth That Shocked the World I ran across an article in the London Daily Telegraph on the insurance value of Mrs. Eleanor Elkins Widener's pearls. The 1912 paper had them insured by Lloyd's for about $600,000 in today's money. I found no articles from 1912 that definitely state Mrs. Widener's pearls had been saved--nor lost. A New York Times article from 1915 stated the Mrs. Widener wore pearls saved from off the Titanic to her wedding to Alexander Hamilton Rice; but a 1937 obituary for Mrs. Widener claims that her pearls were lost on the Titanic.

Later, Walter Lord's The Night Lives On states that her pearls were saved from the ship, but he provides no source.

Here is what I have been able to learn. A former professor at Widener University, who had good contacts with heir Fitz Dixon Jr., says that Mr. Dixon told him a string of pearls survived, but that they were way over estimated in value, having been insured for something like only $100,000 at the time. That would be about $2.3 million in today's money.

A nice little article in the Bangor Daily News for April 13, 2012, by Tom Walsh shows a picture of an emerald ring that was worn by Mr. Widener (George Dunton) on the ship, but which he gave to his wife in case he didn't survive. According to Fitz Dixon Jr. there was also a ruby ring that survived. My university professor also states emphatically that the body of George Dunton Widener was never recovered. He has seen the family mausoleum, and there is only a cenotaph there in honor of George, and there is also one there in honor of the son, Harry Elkins Widener.

As a last note, for the sake of both truthfulness and mystery, I admit to having an email from Fitz Dixon Jr.'s widow whereby she states emphatically that she has never heard of the Widener pearls and knows nothing about them. I just though inquiring minds would like to know. If the pearls do survive, as the former Widener professor asserts, they would no doubt be the single most valuable objects to be taken off the Titanic that survive.

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