Rare photograph of 'Captain Smith' to be auctioned


Encyclopedia Titanica

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captain_smith_launch_1909_H.jpg

Titanic Captain Edward John Smith pictured at a ship launch in c.1909...
 
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IcySofter

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I guess I have to look closer at the other pictures of Smith. At first glance it looked like him to me. I feel bad for the winner of the auction if it's not him. I had a "captain" at my Titanic party who had the gray hair and beard. He loved playing Captain. When we got to the end of the evening right before dessert I pulled a head of lettuce from my fridge and yelled to him as I tossed him the lettuce, "Captain, Iceberg straight ahead." He and I had planned it before the party, but know one else knew and everyone found it hilarious, laughing for minutes afterward and still talking about it four years later.
hmmm, we have a mystery man on our hands! Who is he?
 
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Cam Houseman

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I had a "captain" at my Titanic party who had the gray hair and beard. He loved playing Captain. When we got to the end of the evening right before dessert I pulled a head of lettuce from my fridge and yelled to him as I tossed him the lettuce, "Captain, Iceberg straight ahead." He and I had planned it before the party, but know one else knew and everyone found it hilarious, laughing for minutes afterward and still talking about it four years later.
Lol!!!
 

IcySofter

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And my husband and I have both been looking at the photos and unless you are comparing the man in the top hat to Captain Smith the facial features look like it's Captain Smith to me.
 
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One would hope the auction house has done their job verifing it. Either way it is a cool looking photo.

The actual auction listing reads "believed to be showing Titanic's Captain Edward J. Smith at the launch of an unknown liner" (emphasis mine). Which already shows there is doubt. Other captions, for example for a portrait of Harold Lowe, do not use such speculative language.

Nonetheless, on close examination, the man in the photograph does not match the facial features of Captain Edward Smith (especially the eyes and ears). So it is not him.
 
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IcySofter

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I understand too that there would be doubt if he is not wearing his White Star Line Uniform. I may need a magnifying glass. The nose looks the same. Either way, very entertaining!
 
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IcySofter

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I looked again comparing the photos of Smith that were listed by Dan Parkes and I still thought the picture for auction was Smith as I looked at the photo titled Captain Smith in an undated image, I still thought it could be him as the upper part of his ears showed a similar curve. But as I looked closer at his ears in the rest of the photos his ears are very rounded in each photo, unlike the auction picture. And I don't see on the auction picture the close set eyes that have a definite downward slant. Interesting. See, people can change their mind. BUT--- the lady to the Captain's left is for sure my friend Eileen.
 
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The actual auction listing reads "believed to be showing Titanic's Captain Edward J. Smith at the launch of an unknown liner" (emphasis mine). Which already shows there is doubt. Other captions, for example for a portrait of Harold Lowe, do not use such speculative language.

Nonetheless, on close examination, the man in the photograph does not match the facial features of Captain Edward Smith (especially the eyes and ears). So it is not him.
Hmmm...I guess one would need to be a gambler to bid on that then. My first impression when I saw it was he looked liked George C. Scott a little, not Captain Smith. By the way...I "believe" I have some moon rocks...for sale of course...:p
 
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Arun Vajpey

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Old b/w photos of middle aged full-whiskered men can be confusing in terms of identification. IMO, the bearded gentleman on the left in that picture does NOT look anything like Captain Edward Smith. Smith had a more rounded face and not as tall as the man in the picture.

I have seen a b/w photo of the late Richard Attenborough on the sets of the 1993 film Jurassic Park that can be very easily passed off as that of Captain Smith.
 
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Old b/w photos of middle aged full-whiskered men can be confusing in terms of identification. IMO, the bearded gentleman on the left in that picture does NOT look anything like Captain Edward Smith. Smith had a more rounded face and not as tall as the man in the picture.

I have seen a b/w photo of the late Richard Attenborough on the sets of the 1993 film Jurassic Park that can be very easily passed off as that of Captain Smith.
Common in those days until Mr. Gillette came along with his disposable blades. But I wonder if anybody has run that photo thru a facial recognition program. Might provide some answers. The more I look at that pic I don't think its him.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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The more I look at that pic I don't think its him.
No it isn't. Look at that uniform coat; I have never seen Smith in a dark uniform coat with light coloured shoulder epaulettes and no quadruple Captain's stripes at the wrist. His darker uniform jackets had those stripes but no epaulettes. The white naval uniform on the other hand, had dark coloured shoulder epaulettes with the stripes.

Of course, by 1909 Smith had already attained the seniority that he had when he took over the Titanic.
 
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No it isn't. Look at that uniform coat; I have never seen Smith in a dark uniform coat with light coloured shoulder epaulettes and no quadruple Captain's stripes at the wrist. His darker uniform jackets had those stripes but no epaulettes. The white naval uniform on the other hand, had dark coloured shoulder epaulettes with the stripes.

Of course, by 1909 Smith had already attained the seniority that he had when he took over the Titanic.
The angle of the photo does make it confusing. There are other pics with him having the same style cap. I guess if one wanted to try and solve the mystery I would try to find out what ships were launched in 1909 and cross reference his location if one could. But I'll leave that up to the slueths. I like old photo's from history so still a nice pic. Cheers all.
 
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Jim Currie

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So why is the person behind the bearded officer wearing a mortar board and gown to a ship launch? In addition, that officer is wearing what looks like an RN cap badge with high crown and fouled anchor - it has double - not single - laurel leaves on the peak and what looks like the epaulettes of a senior RN Officer of flag rank on his bridge coat shoulder. Ranks from Captain and below had curved dark back ground epaulettes with horizontal gold lace insignia of rank. Smith retired from the RNR with the rank of Commander... three gold bars on a black back ground.
The records show that In 1909 there were 10 Naval vessels and only 2 Merchant vessels launched that year from UK yards. The latter two were the "Melina" built for Australian owners at H&W Belfast and launched on 27 March and the "Balmore Castle" built for the Union Castle Line at my G-Grandpa's yard - Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co., Glasgow.
Source: List of ship launches in 1909 - Wikipedia.
 
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Doug Criner

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What if it were a genuine photo of Smith? What would it be worth? Is there a big market for that? And, what exactly is an authentic photograph? One of only one prints made from the original negative? How many prints were made? Where is the negative and where has it been? Who printed it? The gentleman is dour-looking, so maybe it is Smith.
 

Arun Vajpey

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The gentleman is dour-looking, so maybe it is Smith.
Unless they were smiling broadly or laughing out loud, most men of that age group and that style of whiskers looked dour. I still feel that the man in that picture is taller than Edward Smith and has a different build. Smith had a more rounded face and a stockier build.
 
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