Artifacts raised from the Empress


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Chris klausen

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Just to add one thought. If they are finger dipping bowls they would have been used at dinner and could have been used on the last voyage. At the time of the sinking the dining room would have been set for breakfast. The items from dinner which was served the night before would have been put away.
 
Dec 13, 1999
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Hi Jim,

Like you, I've not heard of Empress bones being sold - but I do know that at least one skull is in a private collection which makes me shudder. Whilst in Rimouski, a diver told me that he considered that skulls and bones had been "re-arranged" in his opinion, to make it look to other divers with photographic equipment, that they had almost made it to a lifeboat (even though there was little chance of the boat ever being lowered)
but I suppose it does make for a good picture!

I admire your honesty regarding your collection of Empress salvaged material - I have no problem with collecting such items that were provided for use by the shipping company, it's when collectors boast of having bought personal items belonging to the vessel's complement that I become concerned.
I do admit though to having items recovered from victims bodies of the Empress, Titanic and Lusitania in my keeping - although the Titanic material is on permanent loan to a museum.
In the other cases, I was contacted by descendants and offered the items as "nobody in the family is interested and I'm afraid they will be discarded when I'm gone" so I felt I could accept them with a clear conscience.

Kind regards

Geoff Whitfield
 
Aug 31, 2004
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I have to say one more thing before I completely concede.

Imagine this:

You are a very wealthy man with a wife and college aged daughter. You think it's about time to visit her, so you bored a small vessel to take you to her alma mater. You board and are amazed at the luxury and comfort of the beautiful craft. You don't think about the poor immigrants a few decks below you taking all they have to start a new life, just what you'll have for dinner. You go to your cabin and dress for dinner with your wife, who is excited about seeing your daughter. You slip your watch in your pocket and help your wife with her pearls. She leaves her perfume open on the dressing table. You proceed to the dining room with an elegant grace down the grand staircase. You are seated next to one of your business partners and his wife, who are going on a vacation. You are served a five-course meal with champagne and caviar, escargot and parfait with a background of Strauss waltzes and popular tunes. The food keeps coming with no sign of a stop in sight. There is lobster and the finest desserts from around the globe. When you are finished, you have a waltz with your wife and leave her for the smoking room with your friend. She stays for tea and gossip. You arrive in the breathtaking room and play cards and drink fine liquors. At about 11:00, you tire and retire to you cabin, finding your wife dressed in her nightclothes reading a new book she was given by your friend's wife. She greets you and you put your bow tie and watch next to her perfume and jewelry on the nightstand. You kiss her goodnight and turn out the light.

A good while later, you are thrown from your goose-down bed onto the floor with a loud noise and screams of terror from the immigrants below you who are either crushed or drowning. You try to stand but the ship is listing so badly that you are thrown to the floor again. You awake your wife and go out the door, forgetting your lifejackets. You close the door as you hear perfume and clothes fall to the floor. You are trapped in a dark hallway without an exit and are soon separated from your wife who is forever trapped in a dark corridor. You search for her, but another violent bump slams you into another cabin, where you see a means of escape-a window. You fight your way towards it and try to squeeze out. You are stuck until someone pushes you from behind, giving you massive cuts and wounds on your sides. You fall headfirst into the water, which is freezing cold, and almost go under. You come back to your senses and your once silken pajamas are in tatters. You see a lifeboat float by and call for it, but it doesn't see you. A few minutes later, you gently slip beneath the waves and everything goes black. You'll never see your wife, daughter, friends, or anything again.

fifty or so years later, divers penetrate into the wreck of the once great liner. They first only take unused items, but then start taking plates. They take your friend's china saucer and put it into a museum. They make their way into the cabins. They find a nice gold watch and some pearls-your watch and your wife's pearls. They take the never-used lifejackets from your closet and pick clean the other public areas of the ship. And then, some eighty years after you died, someone takes a single bone from the mass sight. It's no one you know, but it's a bone none the less.

How do you feel about these "artifacts" now?

I now will totally and completely stop posting on this board.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Being dead since 1914, I would not feel anything about the artifacts one way or the other. Not being of a religion which believes one that one "takes it with" one, I certainly would not miss them in the afterlife. As for my current incarnation, the one who exists in 2005, I'm still not bothered about the taking of the artifacts.

Now, if you asked whether I would mind salvage if I lost family aboard E.E. in 1914 (the born in 1966 Self with whom you are talking on the board, not the one who died in the wreck) I would have to answer with a firm "I don't know." It is hard to judge what one's reaction would be to any situation one has not experienced first hand. However, not having lost relatives aboard the wreck, and not having died on it, my perspective is currently pro salvage.

Now, Matthew, before you stop posting on the board, take a moment to reconsider. Your opinions are valid, but from the outset you took a very antagonistic tone which was not designed to foster polite conversation. "Grave robber" "Have you no shame?" are the kind of remarks which cause a conversation to quickly degenerate, and did you expect that the response to them would be more along the lines of " I'm now convinced that I was mistaken?"
 
Jan 7, 2002
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I also have a silver finger Bowl from the Empress Of Ireland, which i aquired from Bart Malone (via Ebay).
Do I feel any guilt owning this item?
Not one iota...
Better I own the bowl than let it be buried forever in the silt of the St Lawrence....

Matthew, I respect your opinion,but disagree with you.
I am curious- where do you stand on the exhibition of artifcats taken from the Egyptian pyramids? Often Egyptian corpses are paraded on display (Ramses, Tutankamen, etc), but people never seem to bat an eye....

There is nothing inhumane about owning an inanimate object from a shipwreck...
How about people who collect civil war rifle shot?
Such rifle shot no doubt tore through a soldiers chest before being buried in the soil..
Walter Lord had an enormous Confederate army memorobillia collection, and had a massive number of bullets and shot recovered from some of the battlefields..

I would divert critisism to Egyptologists, who are the true grave robbers...
regards


Tarn Stephanos
 
Aug 31, 2004
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I do find it awful that mummies are prodded, disturbed, and thrown about in the media without respect.
But just as you say, you might feel different if you were related to the victims.

>>Better I own the bowl than let it be buried forever in the silt of the St Lawrence<<

Why? It could have, as an earlier poster pointed out, been used by passengers who could possibly be lying in the mud next to another bowl just like it.
I guess what I am saying is that you might not feel the same way if your relatives were lying in a river being passed by and looked at every so often.
If you had survived and lived to see the salvage, and your child or mother had died, how would you feel?
 

Jim Kalafus

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Thsat's like saying "if your family had been murdered by the Mansons, would it change your stance on The Death Penalty?" Point is, as far as I know none of the families of those involved in this discussion WERE involved in the sinking, so you've posed a question which cannot be answered. Rather like the repeated requests for further information regarding the source of your Body Parts Are Being Sold claim, apparently. Unless one has been in such a situation one cannot realistically predict what one's reaction would be. From experience, I can say that there is a fairly even split among the families of E.E. and A. Doria passengers regarding salvage. Many are vehemently opposed, many others find it interesting. Have you spoken with any? To answer your question from my own limited realm of experience I'd say that in answer to your "how would you feel?" query the answer would be either A) vehemently opposed, or B) not vehemently opposed.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>How do you feel about these "artifacts" now?<<

In that position, as Jim said, I doubt I'd feel anything. Dead people aren't known to feel much or even care what happens in the material world. (Claims by various religious creeds notwithstanding.) If I was a reletive or a survivor, I might feel differently, but then again I might not. Some Titanic survivors and their families have been on both sides of that fence and some still are.

>>I do find it awful that mummies are prodded, disturbed, and thrown about in the media without respect.
But just as you say, you might feel different if you were related to the victims. <<

The media does nothing of the kind and those archaeologists who do are soon invited to leave (As in "Thrown out of the country") by the Egyptian authorities. Sometimes after an unpleasant stay in one of the local jails. They're Egyptian government takes this sort of thing very seriously. You can't even dig there without permission or oversight and those who try find themselves in heap big trouble.

Granted, there have been a lot of abuses but much has been cleaned up since then. The same applies to shipwrecks.

You might want to think of the consequenses if some sort of recovery and exhibition isn't done. Such as the loss of information to the historical record. Eventually, those ships on the bottom will disintigrate to nothing, but when they're gone, there will still be something left to remember them by.
 
Aug 31, 2004
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Think about the magazine articles and "Mummy Autopsy," "Mummy Roadshow" programs on television. I've seen dozens of articles in which the mummies are posed and ripped apart.

I guess it's like this, "I oppose the exploitation and disrespect of mummified corpses, but fully support the taking of small objects from a site which happens to house a few dead bodies."

I will stop now.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Think about the magazine articles and "Mummy Autopsy," "Mummy Roadshow" programs on television. I've seen dozens of articles in which the mummies are posed and ripped apart<<

And the mummies came from were (Egypt isn't the only source you know.) and when? Don't confuse the abuses of yesterday for what goes on today.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>>I guess it's like this, "I oppose the exploitation and disrespect of mummified corpses, but fully support the taking of small objects from a site which happens to house a few dead bodies."

Well, no it isn't. Simplifying horribly, the Egyptians believed that one could take it with one (yes.... I know, but I DID qualify this with 'simplyfying horribly') whereas Christians and Jews (which the overwhelming majority of Empress' passengers were) do not. When one opened an Egyptian tomb, one was, literally, stealing what represented a death "dowry." There IS a spiritual significance to those objects. There is no more spiritual link between those who died aboard Empress and her debris than there is between the body of a person who died on land and the contents of the bedroom in which he or she died. Certain Victorians aside, Western Culture is not in the habit of perpetually sealing Death Rooms. The bed in which one dies is not a part of one, nor is one's death bedroom a static memorial.
 

Paul Rogers

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Would YOU want to sleep in a bed a corpse was once in?
Well, I've slept on such a bed, but the sheets had been changed - or at least washed. I'd guess that anyone who has stayed in hospital also has a fair chance of having slept on a bed that was once occupied by someone who had died. Death per se isn't catching, you know - despite the fact that we'll all eventually come down with it! Why the horror?
 

Jim Kalafus

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>Would YOU want to sleep in a bed a corpse was once in?

I do, regularly. Such is the nature of antiques. But, as Mr Rogers says, the sheets have been changed once or twice in the last 200 years, and the mattress is new. If you own anything over 60 years old, chances are the original owner is now dead. Does that make you a grave robber? No, I thought not.....
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Would YOU want to sleep in a bed a corpse was once in?<<

I probably have. I've been in hospital a couple of times and it didn't bother me. Of course, if it's an ancient artifact, I wouldn't want to sleep in it regardless of whether or not somebody died in the thing. I'd want to see it properly conserved and presented in a museum.
 
Dec 13, 1999
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"Would YOU want to sleep in a bed a corpse was once in?" It wouldn't actually bother me, so long as someone had already removed it! Speaking as someone who did lose a family member on the Empress, I still think I'd prefer my property to be "retrieved" years after my death rather than the scene I witnessed late last year when property was "reclaimed" from the deceased whilst they were still awaiting the undertaker!
"Mother always wanted ME to have this you know!"

Geoff
 
Jan 4, 2005
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I don't believe the term "grave-robber" is an appropriate one at that. In addition to being an avid collector of ocean liner artifacts - including three pieces from the Empress wreck, I am a history major in college. I personally believe we are saving these items for future generations and keeping its history alive. Should these items be lost forever? I have items from a number of wrecks where a people died, but does that make it wrong? It's kind of like the Civil War so to speak. If we wouldn't have the artifacts from the battles or the pictures of bodies on the field.. would today's generations really understand the gravity of what went on? Is it better for them to never have been saved or rather have them so people can have an understanding of the past. I think if you have an issue with artifact salvaging - one should consider the Holocaust museum. One room contains thousands of shoes of the dead from the "death camps" It is a powerful reminder of the history of mankind. If it were me who died onboard one of the great ocean liners of the past, I'd rather my personal items be salvaged and their story told rather than go unnoticed and disappear forever.

Eddie Petruskevich
http://westphalia101.tripod.com
 

Jim Kalafus

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Eddie- interesting that you should bring up the Civl War in this context, because there is a very similar controversy involved in the "harvesting" of artifacts from privately held land. I guess that THERE the question would be "would you rather see the articles dug out now, or left on site to be irretrievably plowed under when the inevitable strip mall is built?"
happy.gif
 
Aug 31, 2004
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The selling of these artifacts is simply profiting off a disaster. You cannot dispute that. A ship sinks, people die, years later you take up artifacts that you sell, which would not be worth as much if the ship had stayed afloat, and you make money.

It is PROFITING OFF DISASTER. "I'm going to go sell paper that fell out of the WTC on 9/11" or "I'm going to sell debris from the tsunami" is the same thing. You cannot dispute that when you bought or sold a salvaged artifact, SOMEONE profited for someone else's loss.
 
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