1. For my credentials on this topic: I was the first researcher to examine the Titanic's claims at the National Archives in Bayonne, NJ (having discovered them by pure accident, as a natural consequence of my Republic work - see Charlie Haas' and Jack Eaton's listing of credits in at least two of their books). White Star Line was protected by the Harter Limitation of Liability Act. See: http://www.rms-republic.com/conceal04.html. So the only claims that would be filed within that action would be for un/self-insured items, of generally minimal value, particularly when compared to privately insured items. See for applicable argument: http://www.rms-republic.com/other_cargos3.html
2. Insurance companies had no interest in filing their claims. There was no benefit to be gained. See argument, loc. cit.
3. Since, no doubt, the most expensive losses of cargo, jewelry, personal effects, etc. would have been privately insured - and, since there was no incentive for insurance companies to file a claim (there was no one to collect against - AND no insurance company did file a claim as a part of the Limitation of Liability proceeding), we can only speculate as to what may have actually been lost. Certainly, if we assume that the bulk of valuable passenger effects were privately insured, unless the passengers indicated their loss and their comments were reported within the press - the public wouldn't know.
I remember reading somewhere that Royal Mail steamers occasionally carried bullion for bank transfers between Britain and the U.S. The Bank of England supposedly keeps its records classified for 100 years after the event, so if the Titanic carried any gold bullion, there may not be an available record for at least another three years. I rather doubt there's any aboard, though.
I get really well with the Bank of England archival staff and they agreed to search their records on my behalf, including material that won't be released for decades. See http://www.paullee.com/titanic/bank.html
Amen Dr. Lee, and so is the rumored account of TITANIC carrying a cache of opium? I recall when the Japanese U-571 was discovered, and what was hoped to be recovered, gold/silver cargo, turned out to be opium. Needless to say, the U.S. Coast Guard was on stanby to insure that Tidwell and his team destroyed the recovered opium,
which in-turn was estimated to worth as much as a mineral recovery.
Thanks very much for your interesting article, Paul--you've confirmed that the bullion rumor is rubbish to my satisfaction! Pretty much what I'd suspected. Don Lynch's book Titanic: An Illustrated History is indeed where I read about it.
Very interesting, Michael--John Eaton and Charles Haas included the claim that Titanic carried opium in her specie room in "Titanic: Destination Disaster." Of course they also perpetuated the 390904 "No Pope" Titanic hull number in that book, too...hmmm, that does make me suspicious.
I think that one of the reasons that some myths like this tend to survive is because they have the element of the plausible to go along with them.
Liners were known to carry gold bullion and other metal specie but for obvious reasons of security, they were not especially keen to advertise the fact. Much the same would apply to any other really valuable cargos. That doesn't mean that the Titanic did have any such aboard...and the evidence appears to be very much against it...but it wouldn't have been all that remarkable if she had.