Artefacts


The host of TV specials has sent me out of lurkdom and back with new questions. I was watching the PBS special which presented a lot of info on the Mackey-Bennett and the body recovery and I started pondering. Records indicate that several ships passed through the debris field that April, seeing many artifacts. But there doesn't seem to be any artefact recovery. Was this because it would have seemed ghoulish? Or would it have been difficult to pick up things from the sea surface from a ship of any large size?

I know its a bizarre question, and perhaps a little gruesome, but once the thought popped into my head I started wondering.

Bonnie
 
Apr 22, 2012
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I believe the vessels sent to recover the victims' bodies did end up bringing back several deck chairs, and also a large piece of panelling from the first class lounge.

My guess as to why there was no artifact recovery was because the mission of these vessels was to find and bring back victims, and I doubt they had little time for anything else. Plus, what would be the real point in going after all this floating debri? From my understanding, it was mostly just a bunch of deck chairs and chunks of wood, cork, etc.

Someone else jump in here if I'm wrong about all this.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I'm inclined to agree with Brandon about this. The ships engaged in body recovery had a lot on their minds and fishing trinkets out of the ocean was not a top priority. As for any other vessel, notably passenger ships, it would hardly be prudent to linger in an area strewn with wreckage that passengers could see.

Makes for a very bad impression on people who don't want to be reminded that the sea is a dangerous place.
 
Hm, these were my initial thoughts as well. It must have been a horrific scene.

I was just thinking of a special I saw which talked about people trying to obtain pieces of the Hindenburg as they were carting the wreckage away. Apparently people would give money or trade items to get pieces of the wreckage from the men who were driving the trucks.

There's something about the sanctity of a disaster site and the desire to preserve history for posterity that I grapple with in my mind. Somewhere is a balance between the two, but I don't know what it is.

Thanks for your input.

Best,
Bonnie
 
Jan 29, 2001
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However some artifacts retrieved may, and in the case of the Hindenburg, a section of her sheathing still survives, offer clues. Lending crucial information to modern analyst. In another case, a gentleman presented a dining utensil to an appraiser on the Antiques Roadshow, and I recall it was appraised at 3k. His Grandfather retrieved it from the site afteward.

I feel the intention of the folks to obtain a piece of Hindenburg wreckage is simply because, perhaps they were witness to a great tragedy, or lived in the area. A tangible reminder of a tragedy which unfolded before their eyes.

The Imperial War Museum houses many a touching artifact, including a LUSITANIA lifering...take your children and grandchildren to see them. Perhaps that visit, to that solemn hall, may someday have an impact on future society...

...maybe it will be your child's vote in congress which stopped a country from going to war.

Michael A. Cundiff
USA
(Time to finish some morning coffee, and get to that book underneath the cup ;-)
 
Sep 26, 2009
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During the early years of my Titanic research, I wrote to the Belfast paper looking for Titanic artifacts. The newspaper published my letter and I purchased two artifacts that had Titanic connections. One was a hull punching with the name "RMS TITANIC" engraved on it. The second was a lifeboat seat support picked up at sea by an engineer named L.H. Vint on the RMS Arabic. I donated both items, along with a large piece of First Class green carpet given to me by Titanic survivor F. Dent Ray and a breadboard I bought from a retired customs official, to the Titanic Historical Society. The hull punching and lifeboat seat support are pictured on the THS's official website www.titanic1.org. I was amazed to see my lifeboat seat support on display at the Branson Titanic attraction, along with an original lifeboat nameplate and an original White Star lifeboat flag. Robert H. Gibbons
112391.jpg

The lifeboat seat support is between the two framed photos on this side of the case. In the other side of the case is the nameplate and White Star flag, along with a large piece of cork.
 

Steve Santini

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Nov 29, 2000
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Hi,

The block of cork belongs to us and was removed from the lifejacket of J.J. Astor along with all the other blocks. These were distributed among members of the Mackay Bennett crew.

Steve Santini
 

PRR5406

Member
Jun 9, 2016
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Interestingly, just as there are some who oppose retrieval of artifacts today, I'm certain people felt it was both ghoulish and superstitiously wrong to bring something back that "touched the dead". Others felt it gave creedence to a story so large and unbelievable, the public should have access to the "Titanic" story.
 

PRR5406

Member
Jun 9, 2016
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There's another couple of paths of thought here. Unless it was marked "Titanic", deck chairs, broken wood, etc., were simply everyday objects, especially to sailors. I'm certain items like shoes might have no meaning as they drifted by. A piece pieces of carved walnut wood might have been a curiosity to bring shore, but a baby bottle or doll? Whew, that would be tough! A wallet, well yes. Removing a corpse's vest and waist coat, no? Empty life jacket, yes.

I have no problem with retrieving plates, kitchen ware, coal, pipes, windows, ripped out furnishings. I have no issue with personal property such as luggage being retrieved. Side by side boots? No way!
 

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