Is this really the Titanic


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I bought this picture (its a real photo, not a postcard) on Ebay recently. It looks to be the Titanic. It's certainly not Britannic because the lifeboats aren't right. At first blush, the promenade deck reminds one of the Olympic. However, this appears to be a "fittings" picture from between February 3, 1912, and April 2, 1912, in Belfast. The key distinguishing feature is the aft cutaway below the promenade deck and near the rear mast. That cutaway is much longer on Olympic. Any thoughts, disagreements, or questions?
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I'm sorry, the posted picture is pretty blurry. The original, in fact, is quite clear and focused.
 

Adam Leet

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That is indeed Titanic. The restaurant windows are already in place, and the rest of the windows are staggered, not to mention the open aft B-deck promenade is shorter. Easy to tell the difference, despite the bad JPEG compression, by the way.


Adam
 
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Jan,

So it was you that bought that picture, eh? That's quite a find! I was looking at it on eBay a couple of days ago. Who knows what's liable to be up for grabs on that site next! Enjoy!


Cheers,
happy.gif


-B.W.
 
Dec 7, 2000
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Jan,

I didn't see that one on ebay, looks like a good find! The scan isn't exactly clear, but check with some Titanic photo people to see whether it is a rare picture. I don't think I've ever seen that one before, but then again I'm not very knowledgeable on exterior photos.

Olympic would have had the same restaurant windows, but at this stage it would have also had a full line of boats on the boat deck (which doeasn’t seem to be the case on this photo).

If you want to send me a clearer scan of the photo, I could forward to to someone who would know more about the photo.

Regards,

Daniel.
 
Dec 7, 2000
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Just had a look at my copy of Marriott's Titanic, and the picture on pp 4 - 5 matches the one above. However there is no crane visible in Jan's photo. This was either removed, or it's a different photo. If these images are the same, then they're the H&W photos H1713x - as according to the UFTM Titanic index I have.

Daniel.
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Thanks for the feedback. Can anyone help me date this photo? In Don Lynch's book, he show a "fittings" picture of February 3, 1912, which is before the Ismay Promenade was in place, and part of the aft plating hasn't been installed. This picture is after that, but before the promenade was put in. The crane is also missing. Any ideas?
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Bob Read

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On p. 18 of Thomas Bonsall's book, "Titanic",
there is a nearly identical copy of this photo.
The only difference appears to be that the floating crane is in the background. Everything else (expecially the extent of painting) is the same. Bonsall gives a date of
October 6, 1911. As far as the reason the crane does not appear, it may possibly be explained by the photo on the next page of Bonsall's book. It show Olympic and Titanic in the same photo. Olympic has been brought back because of a lost propeller. The photo is dated March 6, 1912. Titanic still has the same paint pattern but you can see work in progress on the screens for the A deck promenade. In your photo, no such work has begun. Therefore, I would place the photo somewhere between October 6, 1911
March 6, 1912. Perhaps someone else has access to an exact date but this is as close as I can place it from existing photos.

Regards,
Bob Read
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Thanks, Bob. I didn't know that it could be as early as October 6, 1911. The February 3, 1912 date in Lynch's book must be wrong.
 

Bob Read

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Jan:
I'm not sure what photo and what book you are referring to when you cite "Lynch's book".
If you could give title and page number maybe I could give a better comment. If Lynch dates this exact photo as February 3, 1912 he could be right. That would place it within the time frame I mentioned. You might on first blush think that the Feb. 3 date with no work started on the A deck screen would be wrong but not necessarily. I don't know if I ever knew the exact date it was started but it was surprisingly late. Even in the March 6 photo with Olympic the work doesn't look very far along. This is not the photo of Olympic and Titanic taken from forward that you see in most books. It is taken from what appears to be the port side with Titanic in the background also showing the port side. I would have to look further to confirm that it is indeed the port side of both ships since the photo may have been reversed.

Regards,
Bob Read
 
Dec 7, 2000
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Jan,

I've been told that this is the H1713x photo I was referring to earlier, however this must be an earlier printing and the crane must have been removed, as apparently the water ripples are the same. This must be a February 1912 photo and definitely not Oct. 1911.

Daniel.
 

Bob Read

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Daniel:
First, I see no reason why the picture would have been "doctored" to remove the crane.
Not that H&W didn't "doctor" photos but when they removed objects in photos is was very crudely done and was readily apparent on the photo. I can't see any evidence that they "erased" the crane in this photo. Since the date Bonsall gives for the one with the crane in it is October 6, 1911, I see no reason why this couldn't be nearly the same date.
If I can upload this scan, this is the March 6, 1912 photo.
As you can see, the paint pattern on Titanic is nearly identical and you can just make out some activity in placing the A deck promenade screens. That's why there can be such a large date window for Jan's photo in my opinion.

Regards,
Bob Read
 
Dec 7, 2000
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In that case, perhaps Bonsall is wrong, the Titanic is too advanced for this photo to be Oct. 6 1911. Her B deck windows were only removed in Sep. 1911 to be replaced with the new cabin windows, so I really doubt that only a month later, the windows were in place, funnels etc.

If you have the H1713x print, or a copy of the "Sisters" book (pg.128) or the Marriott book (pp.4-5) and I think McGoughan's "Birth of the Titanic" would also have this photo, you can really see that this is the same photo especially if you follow the water ripples. You really can't replicate them, or make them stay the same for any longer than it takes to capture them on film.

Jan has the print, he’d be the better person to compare it to the photos in books.

Regards,

Daniel.
 
Dec 7, 2000
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Bingo! Why didn't I think of this before.

"On February 3, 1912, assisted by the Harland and Wolff tug 'Hercules', Titanic was moved carefully into dry dock, where she remained until February 17 until carefully removed to the fitting out wharf. It was somewhat after this date that lifeboat installation began, which took about three weeks to complete."

By John P. Eaton in Voyage 38, the quarterly journal of the Titanic International Society.

Not only does this photo match H1713x, but the lifeboats in both are prominently visible! But wait there's more. The paint work on the hull matches the paint work seen in the above March 6, 1912 photo! This would indicate that Jan's photo had to have been taken around the later week/s of February or likely not long before March 6, 1912.

I'm a little confused by the Lynch quote, as well. I don't know if Jan's photo was taken before Olympic arrived at Belfast (March 1, 1912) and thus Titanic was removed from where she was, or after. I would say that Titanic's position in the photo is because of Olympic. Thus the photo must have been taken some time around March 1, 1912.

Daniel.
 
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This does appear to be the picture from p. 128 of the "Sisters" book. Curiously, however, the crane is missing. The dome is there, but not the crane. Whoever took it out did a really good job because it can't be noticed. The people, waves, etc., all seem to match up.

But something doesn't make sense here. Lynch says, on page 25 of "Titanic: An Illustrated History," Titanic's first stop was the fitting out basin. On February 3, 1912 Titanic was dry-docked in the Belfast Harbour Commission's new graving dock where her propellers were fitted, "and a final coat of paint was applied."

He has a picture of ship in the dry-dock. It shows the lifeboats but the photograph isn't dated. His photo also shows that the ship is being painted on the stern (earlier, I thought these were missing plates, but it's just new black paint). The crane isn't visible.

Based on this, I got a feeling that my picture is from before February 3, 1912. The only problem is that my picture shows the lifeboats. According to Eaton these weren't installed until she went into the dry-dock. But obviously, Titanic hasn't been painted in my picture. So,something doesn't square.

Bob's picture shows the crane on the port side. It seems that crane could really move around.

I think Bob may be right, the picture doesn't look doctored at all. My feeling is that this is a snapshot taken immediately after the "Sisters" photo but after the crane has been lowered or moved, or some such. It would make sense. People frequently snap several pictures.

My question is, how movable is this crane? It appears to move around. Could it be lowered out of sight quickly? Could it be moved to the side, quickly?
 

Bob Read

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Daniel:

I did some further research of dates and photos in Titanic:Triumph and Tragedy by Eaton an Haas. So far, this book has been considered the bible of Titanic details. I thought that it might clear things up but it has only made things more confusing.

First, let's look at two pertinent photos. On p. 42 the photo of Titanic with the crane much like Jan's photo is given a date of October 6, 1911. The photo under it is the one I posted. It is given the date of March 6, 1912.

The dating of the first photo which is like Jan's is the one that causes most of the confusion. I will elaborate further below.

Now for some quotes about specific dates from the same book:

1. "While Olympic was under repair in the new graving dock, Titanic lay alongside in the Alexandria Wharf. With Olympic's departure in late November, Titanic was returned to the graving dock and her own fitting out resumed." (Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy, by Eaton
and Haas, p. 32)

2. "During January the sixteen wooden lifeboats constructed at the Queen's Island boatyard were installed under the Welin davits." (Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy, by Eaton and Haas, p. 32)

3. "Titanic was successfully drydocked on Saturday 3 February, 1912 in the Belfast Harbor Commissioner's new graving dock." (Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy by Eaton and Haas, p. 33)

4. "The two sisters were together for a brief and final time when Olympic arrived at Belfast on 1 March for refitting of her port propeller, having lost a blade on 24 February during an eastbound crossing. When she departed on 6 March, Titanic was again drydocked to provide the space needed for Olympic's outward turn into the River Lagan." (Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy, by Eaton and Haas, p. 33.

5. "At a very late stage of construction, during the last three weeks of March, the open windows on the forward end of A deck were torn out and replaced by new sliding glass windows." (Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy, by Eaton and Haas, p. 33.

Here are some of the date problems I see:

1. The photo on p. 42 which you believe is the same as Jan's is dated as October 6, 1911. However, in the photo you can clearly see that the lifeboats are installed. Citation number two above states that the lifeboats were installed during January 1912. Either the date of the photo is wrong or the date indicated when the lifeboats were installed is wrong.

2. According to citation number one, Titanic was returned to the graving dock in late November after repairs to Olympic as a result of the Hawke incident were completed. According to citation number three, Titanic was drydocked on February 3, 1912 in the
Belfast Harbor Commissioner's new graving dock. Were the graving docks Titanic entered on these two dates different graving docks? That is about the only reason I can see for two separate entries into graving docks unless some other H&W ships needed
to use the graving dock during this period.

3. Citation number four and five seem to indicate a discrepancy. They indicate that Olympic was at Belfast from March 1-6, 1912 for replacement of a propeller blade. They also indicate that the A deck screens were replaced during the last three weeks of
March. The problem is that from photos of the two sisters together during this period of March 1-6 we can see that the modifications are well under way.

If you can sort out these date problems, more power to you. If Jan's photo was "doctored" to remove the crane and thereby make it appear as a "new" photo, I don't believe it was done by H&W. They weren't very good at that sort of thing. The problem with the dates enumerated above makes dating of these photos very difficult. Only a very close examination of Jan's photo might reveal whether it is something new or just a
"doctored" version of the similar existing photo.

The problem with dating this photo as you suggest as around March 1, 1912 is that we can see from photos of the two sisters during that meeting of March1-6 that the modifications to A deck are well under way.
They are not under way in Jan's photo so it has to predate March 1.

Regards,
Bob Read
 

Adam Leet

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Jan, the crane in question is a floating crane loaned to H&W by a German shipwright, if memory serves.


Adam
 
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Frankly, I think what this discussion is telling us is that the books we've been reading are inacurate, or the books' sources are ambiguous. I'll start a thread on the German crane, to see if that attracts any experts. Thanks, guys, for the input. Please post anything else you come up with. I'm hoping I have a unique picture here, but maybe I don't.

Jan
 
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