- Apr 11, 2001
It was with a heavy heart I learned of yesterday's auction in Southampton of Marshall Drew's Titanic hatribbon for 53,000 dollars. Tonight it was on the second page of the Rhode Island newspapers. This was the hat ribbon bought by Uncle James Drew in Titanic's barbershop and taken off the ship by Aunt Lu in her purse-it was discovered back in New York days later. Marshall treasured this hatribbon. We would take it to schools when we did Titanic talks for children and for civic groups. I organized an exhibit at his favorite haunt- the Westerly Library back in 1984. It was his wish that it go to a museum someday. He gave me the hatribbon in 1984- and I kept it for about 6 months before feeling that somehow his family ought to be the ones to have it. Marshall had kept it in an old red plastic zip pencil pouch for decades- in the Washington Trust safety deposit box, and reluctantly took it back from me when I explained I felt it should stay in his family. We thought that one day the artifacts would be in a museum and he wondered if the hatribbon might also be displayed- he really loved the Smithsonian and expressed interest in it going there. While I understand that auctioneers don't get emotional over items on the blocks, and I realize family can do what they want with things they own- I somehow feel very sad about how this has ended up- and wonder what the American who paid this obscene amount will do with this little black grosgrain ribbon with the gold stamped words RMS Titanic printed on it with the British and American flags imprinted. When I would have to transport it from place to place- I was afraid my purse would be snatched- so I pinned it in a small cloth bag over my heart for safe keeping. I recently heard The Frank Aks collection was sold by his grandchildren- he was so proud of it and it was for a time in a Norfolk museum. It's a strange world. I wonder how you in the Titanic community feel about this sort of thing? I just feel sad.