Titanic Deck Chair History


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Ralph Cook

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This is a strange, convoluted, wonderful story about how two men from Nantucket, came upon, bought, researched, and old salvaged steamer deck chair with flaking reddish paint. It's a chair that was offered at Mark Enik's Island Antiques auction in August of last year 1998. It's a chair that no one even bidding on. So it sat at Enik's place gathering dust...until February of this year 1999, when Ian McCarthy and Ralph Cook bought it privately for $4000.

What's all the excitement now? Enik told auction-goers it was a deck chair from the Titanic. Of course today, there's hardly a soul worldwide who can't cite you a pagefull of the intimate particulars of this 1912 tragedy, and that, of course, is because of the huge success of the new Oscar-garnering movie. But until that came out, possibly the most people knew of that particular sea disaster was based on the song everyone sings as a child or a summer camper: Do the words "It was sad when the good ship went down" ring any bells for you?

At what point did the bell ring in the chair guys' heads? They didn't attend the auction; in fact they didn't even know Mark Enik had the chair until a friend, told them in February of this year. Things began happening when McCarthy saw the movie Titanic. He told his father about it, and his father said, "Ian, didn't you know that you have a relative who was on the Titanic?" Wow! Ian found that his great grandmother's first cousin from County Clare, Ireland, Mary Agatha Glynn, had been on board the Titanic, in steerage quarters, bound for Washington, DC. She escaped in Lifeboat #13; survived the shipwreck, and eventually married and settled in Washington, DC.

It was at about that time that Ian heard about Mark Enik's deck chair. The bell was going full tilt now, and Ian negotiated with Enik to buy the chair. Not having the funds readily accessible, he went to his buddy, Ralph Cook, for a short-term loan (the story goes that Ralph had money that was supposed to be used to complete his basement) and voila! Ian and Ralph became the chair guys. (One can only wonder if any of the auction attendees, having heard all the very recent publicity about the Titanic deck chair on Nantucket Island, vaguely remember it being offered...and are at this very moment kicking themselves for not bidding on it...)

The saga of the chair guys quickly becomes much more involved and interesting. Is the deck chair authentic or isn't it? Mark Enik bought it sometime in 1997 from a Captain Robin Lee of Halifax, Nova Scotia, who says he got it in about 1960 from Captain Julien Louis LeMarteleur, who commanded cable-repair ships early in the century for the Compagnie Francaise des Cables Telegraphiques. And the letter of provenance from Lee states that Captain LeMarteleur actually retrieved the deck chair from the icy waters near the site of the Titanic disaster. Passing ships observed many deck chairs in the water as the wreckage from the doomed ship continued to float away from the site of the tragedy in the cold currents. Furthermore, the ship's baker, Charles Joughin, testified that he threw at least 50 deck chairs into the water when he saw that there were not enough lifeboats, hoping to offer survivors something to cling to as the luxury liner sank.

But the chair guys wanted to know for sure if the account was true. Captain LeMarteleur has been dead for 25 years, so they couldn't ask him. The deck chair looks authentic: it's made of Mahogony or Burmese teak, and it has the five-point star insignia of the White Star Line carved in the front part of the headrest. And there's a brass nametag holder (minus the cardboard nametab that would possibly identify which first-class voyager on the Titanic had rented the chair, and who had sat out on deck to enjoy the sea breezes of early April in the company of other wealthy passengers). But how to prove that the chair guys' purchase is the real thing?

There is only one other known Titanic deck chair displayed anywhere in the world at this point. It's in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, NS, and it was acquired from the son of a Rev. W. Cunningham, who was aboard the Minia, one of the cable ships sent out to recover bodies of Titanic victims.

Ian and Ralph knew the chair would be worth considerably more if they could absolutely prove it was from the Titanic. So off they went to Halifax, on March 24th of this year. There they visited the Public Archives of Nova Scotia and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic; they also took a side trip to Mount Olivet Cemetery to look at and photograph the gravesites of many of the victims of the Titanic disaster (where Capt. LeMarteleur is buried also). They were fortunate to make contact with two Titanic researchers: Alan Ruffman, President of Geomarine Associates in Halifax, and Gary Shutlak, Senior Archivist at the Nova Scotia Public Archives. These two men have been very interested, say the chair guys, and invaluable in helping to verify the deck chair's authenticity. Ian and Ralph also met and queried Margaret Pennington, who was Capt. LeMarteleur's housekeeper and to whom he left the piece of the cork life preserver. She was quite sure the deck chair in question was the real thing and signed a provenance of her own attesting to the authenticity of the deck chair recovered by the man she once took care of.

The two men had found out a lot, but not enough. A month later they returned to Halifax, where they spent time looking at the Lloyd's Registers hoping to find out more about Capt. LeMarteleur. LeMarteleur was commanding a ship, the Contre Amiral Caubet, but it was listed as being in port in the Halifax papers during the Titanic period. The two men concluded that what they needed were ship's logs, to sort all this out for sure. To do this, they needed to go to Paris. They needed to get into the records of Compagnie Francaise des Cables Telegraphiques and find the Contre Amiral Caubet's log!

Asked what the low point had been in their frantic search to authenticate their deck chair, the chair guys unhesitatingly said (1) when they'd found that Capt. LeMarteleur's ship, the Contre Amiral Caubet, had been in port, raising the question of how he could have recovered a deck chair from the water near the Titanic's scene, and (2) when they arrived in Paris and found everything closed for the first three days. "We had planned to spend five days looking for the logs, but now we'd only have two!" said Ian. ( Ralph said: "When we went there we found a big gate, a guard, and it was obvious there was high security there. And they said they absolutely wouldn't let us in. Only professors or professional researchers were allowed inside to look at records. We were so discouraged; we asked ourselves why we'd come, why we'd spent all this money..." The chair guys say that they've spent almost $15,000 so far trying to find proof that their deck chair is really from the Titanic.) Ralph continued: "Then we saw three people talking French, and I walked up to them and said, 'Hello, we need help.' 'We're from America and doing research on the Titanic..." and so forth-all this in English-and they said Oui, Oui, and started talking fast in French to one another. We didn't know if they were ignoring us, laughing at us, or what.

"Then two of the guys left, but the third one, Daniel Catan, asked to see our documents, which we'd left in the hotel. He walked back there with us, looked at the papers, and asked us to meet him at his house on Monday morning. He turned out to be a researcher himself, and he knew how to get us into France Telecom." The long and short of it is that finally, the chair guys got into the impressive and closely guarded records room and found the books in which they hoped to get their proof. But they couldn't read French, could they? (Ralph laughed and said, "Ian was learning French in one day!") Ah, but they knew to look for the Captain's name and the relevant dates and the word Titanic. And they found the date they were looking for, then were referred to a particular box of information which, they were told, required permission to access, and was quite a distance away. Frantic, the chair guys pressed on, found that the box in question was not too far away after all, and the fellow who would have been able to get them the box was busy. "But we'll go with you-we'll carry the box-we need it right away!" He must have seen the desperation in the chair guys, because he took them down the street and they found the box they wanted.Breakthrough!

"For the next day," said Ian, "were part of the Telecom family...everyone was excited now. We were about to look at information that hadn't been touched for 86 years! And it was about the Titanic." And finally, the breakthrough! They found the company repair records proving that Capt. LeMarteleur had not been on his own ship, which had indeed been in - port for the whole time, but had been on the Mackay-Bennett, as client representative of Compagnie Francaise des Cables Telegraphiques, who were renting the vessel. And here's the proof they were looking for: the ship, the Mackay-Bennett, was ordered to repair a broken French telegraph cable on the same voyage as the recovery of Titanic
victims . . . hence LeMarteleur's presence as client representative. The voyage became so physically and emotionally draining that the repair was postponed for a voyage in May and LeMarteleur gained a chair and a piece of cork life preserver for his troubles.

Did the chair guys ever almost give up hope that they'd find what they were looking for? Ralph said, "It's really amazing what happened to us in France. To find the Records seeing LeMarteleur's signature the way we did is just unbelievable!"

History
"Authentic Titanic Deck Chair Salvage And Recovery"
by Mary Miles

Anyway she did a nice article!
This was all so different to me, not in my realm of expertise. Believe me it was fun and exciting, my wife wasn't always happy, trips to Halifax etc. I would think at times premature we had the proof needed. As a result we did make some mistakes along the way, none I would be unwilling to explain. As time went on I learned it took allot to prove something was from the Titanic. And even then, there are some people who will always doubt. I hope you enjoyed this story, not just mine but Captain LeMarteleur's, we did come to feel connected to him through this all.

Ian and I will be happy to answer any question you might have.
Thanks for taking the time.
Ralph
 

Bob Mervine

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Sep 1, 2000
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From the Friday, Dec. 1, 2000 issue
ORLANDO BUSINESS JOURNAL
~~~~~
The articles that follow were written by me and posted here, as I have done previously, for yur information and comment.
I met Ralph and Ian several years ago and they have been exceedingly helpful in putting the story together.
I'm glad Ralph was able to offer the extensive background (above). As usual, the limits of space and deadline restrict how much information I can include in any sort of balanced piece of journalism.
I love writing and learning about Titanic and I am greatful I have a sympathetic editor who allows it.

Bob
~~~~~
It's a disaster! Deck chair on the Titanic broken
(Page 3)

On loan to Orlando, the chair was valued at more than $300,000

By BOB MERVINE Contributing Writer
ORLANDO – One of the last deck chairs to go down with the Titanic – on loan to an Orlando attraction and insured for almost $500,000 – is broken.
It appears someone sat on the artifact.
“We’re trying to get to the bottom of this,” says Paul Burns, manager of International Drive’s Titanic Ship of Dreams: The Exhibition.
Covered by a clear plastic box with a White Star Lines blanket lying across the bottom, the chair had been on display as part of the 19 month-old exhibit, which bills itself as the world's first permanent Titanic exhibit. It’s one of fewer than a half-dozen deck chairs believed recovered from the doomed vessel.
Photos provided to chair owners James Ian McCarthy and Ralph Cook show a four-inch piece of each of the two back legs has been snapped off. “I guess it’s not that bad,” says Cook, a 40-year old janitor from Cape Cod, “but I’m still beside myself.”
It’s the latest twist to the deck chair’s twisted – and sometimes controversial – display.
McCarthy and Cook are long time friends who bought the chair at auction in New England, in 1998 from a Halifax sea captain. He, in turn, had acquired the chair from Captain Julien Louis LeMarteleur, a commander of cable-repair ships in the North Atlantic.
Unlike some Titanic artifacts, it was not prohibitively expensive. That’s because there was no clear-cut verification that it had actually traveled from the Titanic’s first-class deck through the icy water of the North Atlantic and into the garage of a New England sea captain.
Proving the authenticity, or provenance, of the chair led both men to France to find documents they say prove LeMarteleur was on the Mackey-Bennett, the ship chartered to recover the bodies of Titanic’s victims.
Today, Cook and McCarthy manufacture and sell reproductions of the chair and in the Orlando attraction’s gift shop. And they are ready to sell the original – for a hefty price.
The chair was offered for sale on eBay in September by Butterfields, a well-known San Francisco-based auction house. The bidding fell short of the expected sale price of $200,000 to $300,000 and the chair was packed up for its return trip to Orlando.
And that’s when the trouble first surfaced.
Writing on an Internet bulletin board, an employee of the I-Drive attraction posted several messages. “Remember that whole shin-dig about the deck chair,” she writes. “It comes back yesterday with the legs broken and the wood dented. Someone sat in the darn thing, leaned back and snapped the back legs off. Lee (Everitt, responsible for maintaining the attraction’s displays) was fit to be tied. We put it back together with the best of our ability and put it back in the case.”
She later writes, “It happened before it got back to us . . .Thankfully, it is back in its case.”
Neither the owners of the chair nor management of the attraction were aware of the damage until contacted for comment by Orlando Business Journal.
Levi Morgan, a Butterfields spokesman, says the company is not familiar with any damage to the chair and will be investigating. The insurance carrier, -- paid by the parent company to the Orlando attraction – is also investigating.
In some respects, the damage is not surprising. “Capt. LeMarteleur kept the chair in his yard and the contact with the damp soil caused it to deteriorate,” explains Cook, who adds that the chair had previously broken in the same place. However, Cook expressed concern that the new break would dampen the chair’s six-figure value – possibly earning he and his partner less than if it had been sold for the rejected auction price on e-bay.
However, Marie Katsonis, the director of Christie’s Maritime department, says it’s too soon to gauge the effect the incident might have on the chair’s value. “It survived a great disaster,” she says, “so this doesn’t mean too much.
~~~~~~
Questions of authenticity dog deck chair
(Page 15)

Insured for $420,000, some believe chair is worthless

By BOB MERVINE Contributing Writer
ORLANDO – But is it real?
Handcrafted reproductions of the Titanic deck chair owned by James Ian McCarthy and Ralph Cook sell for $599 on their Web site (http://www.titanicdeckchair.com/) and in the gift shop of Orlando’s Titanic, Ship of Dreams attraction.
But among the authenticity-obsessed world of Titanic devotees, the dollar value of the two men’s chair is in doubt.
Some experts, such as Steve Santini, former curator of the Manitoba Museum of the Titanic, have questioned whether McCarthy and Cook’s prized chair is the genuine article.
Santini is careful to say that other Titanic deck chairs cannot be fully documented. However, he goes on to cite numerous differences in his comparison of the chair to blown-up photographs of Titanic’s deck – replete with deck chairs – as well as the details of four other chairs known to exist. He notes, for example, that there is a fine white powder on the wood of the other chairs – absorbed sea salt from their ocean immersion. Further, he adds, “The bottom of their (McCarthy and Cook’s) chair is slatted, not caned, the only one with this feature I have ever seen.”
In fact, the two men traveled to Europe to help establish the provenance – or chain of ownership – of the chair. It was only after obtaining sworn affidavits and a variety of government records that they were able to prove to some skeptics that their chair had in fact been on the Titanic. Butterfields, the San Francisco auction house, is among those convinced: The company had guaranteed the deck chair’s authenticity before putting it up for auction on e-Bay recently.
But others are not as willing to believe. An October 6 article in the Wall Street Journal reported that the e-Bay bids kept “dropping precipitously on doubts about its (the deck chair’s) authenticity.”
Which is why the recent breakage may not affect the deck chair’s six-figure value at all, says Marie Katsonis, the director of Christie’s Maritime department. “The issue isn’t the damage,” says Katsonis. “It’s about the authenticity of the piece.”
 

Ralph Cook

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Provenance
Historical evidence indicating the Chair's authenticity
Evidences of Authenticity
1. The same deck chairs existed on the Titanic

2. People threw deck chairs off Titanic as flotation devices. Other chairs floated off as the ship sank.

3. Ships in the vicinity recovered deck chairs and other debris.

4. Julien Louis LeMarteleur was a French cableship Captain who lived in Halifax during the time of the sinking. He was Captain of the "Contre Amiral Caubet," one of two cableships owned by the Compagnie Francais de Cables Telegraphiques (CFCT) in 1912.


5. Administration records indicate that the "Contre Amiral Caubet" was 37 years old and out of service in 1912 ("reforme definitive"). The CFCT had contracted the British cableship "Mackay-Bennett" to do the work of the "Contre."

6. The cable repair logs of the"Mackay-Bennett" for April 1912 name Captain LeMarteleur as being on board as a client representative. On April 3, 1912 they repaired a cable break on the St. Pierre to Brest cable.

7. A corporate report of cable work says that the "Mackay-Bennett" was contracted to perform a repair for the French company of the cable between Cape Cod and New York, close to the New York junction during the time when the Titanic sank.

8. The Morning Chronicle newspaper of April 16, 1912 says that the "Mackay-Bennett" and other local ships were "made ready" to go and assist the Titanic in the early hours of the 15 th if needed. It says that the "Mackay-Bennett" had been taking in cable for a few days for the repair job off New York. The "Mackay-Bennett" repair logs indicate that they took in cable from the hold of the disabled "Contre Amiral Caubet," and thus they were side by side that night.

9. In 1916 the CFCT built its own wharf (which survived the Halifax Explosion), but in 1912 the company was renting the Liverpool Wharf on the Halifax side. As such, the broken-down "Contre Amiral Caubet" served as their floating office. Oral history dictates that Wireless Operator/First Officer Yves Michel heard the reports of the Titanic from on board the ship. The fact that all the ships in Halifax were being "made ready" that night proves that the signal was in fact received.

10. The CFCT corporate minutes say that they resolved to allow the "Mackay-Bennett" out of its cable repair agreement to go and help "recherche corpus de naufragel" (recover the corpses of the shipwrecked).

11. The "Mackay-Bennett" left Halifax at noon on April 17th with coffins and undertakers on board to recover the bodies. Cable company records and newspaper articles indicate that the vessel's orders were to recover bodies, perform the cable repair on the ruptured French New York to Cape Cod cable, and then land the bodies in New York. Captain LeMarteleur was on board during this mission to perform his duties as client representative for the CFCT in connection with the cable repair job. Captain Larnder, no doubt owing to the mentally and physically draining task at hand, abandoned the plan to perform the cable repair a short time into the work. The book Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy mentions that the "Mackay-Bennett" carried an "all-volunteer" crew (that is, not everyone on board signed on the official crew agreements).

12. The diary of a "Mackay-Bennett" crew member records the recovery of a deck chair from the floating debris field. The crew member noted the White Star Line insignia carving on the headrest.

13. During the body recovery mission, a French cable break occurred on April 27th east of Newfoundland on the same St. Pierre to Brest cable that was repaired on April 3rd . On May 3rd , the "Mackay-Bennett" left Halifax to repair this cable (delaying further the New York to Cape Cod repair). The work was completed on May 11th and they departed for New York. CFCT telegrams indicate that a Mr. Neyreneuf replaced Captain LeMarteleur as the company's client representative for this repair trip.

14. Captain Robin N. Lee of Halifax, Nova Scotia acquired the deckchair from Captain LeMarteleur in 1960. Captain LeMarteleur had been independently surveying ships and came on board the cableship "John W. Mackay" (which was owned by Commercial Cable Co., the same outfit that owned the "Mackay-Bennett"). Captain Lee was serving as a navigator on the "John W. Mackay" and was present when LeMarteleur began reminiscing about his experiences with the Titanic tragedy and his recovery of a deck chair and cork life preserver. Captain Lee, himself an impressive maritime art collector, expressed interest in the deck chair and it became part of his personal collection. Captain Lee has provided a signed letter of provenance attesting to the authenticity of the deck chair.

15. Captain LeMarteleur told his housekeeper, Margaret Bucholtz (now Pennington), that his First Officer, Yves Michel, had overheard the distress signal of the Titanic (most likely a relay of it, although the Titanic's wireless could extend 1000 miles on a clear night). LeMarteleur also told her how he recovered a deckchair and cork life preserver from the Titanic wreckage. She knew that Captain LeMarteleur had sold the deck chair to Captain Lee in 1960. She has provided a signed testimony as to the authenticity of the deck chair.

16. Ian McCarthy and Ralph Cook, Jr., purchased the chair from Nantucket auctioneer Mark Enik in February of 1998. Mark Enik purchased the chair from Captain Lee in 1997. Enik sold the chair as a guaranteed authentic Titanic deck chair. Ian and Ralph have conducted extensive research into the history of the chair and have provided a signed statement guaranteeing its authenticity.

17. Noted Titanic expert Alan Ruffman, President of GeoMarine and author of the book Halifax and the Titanic Disaster, has personally assisted Ian and Ralph in the research of the deckchair. He has proofed and revised the provenance extensively and attests to the authenticity of the chair. Gary Shutlak, Senior Archivist at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia, is familiar with the findings regarding the chair and has attested to the chair's heritage in published newspaper accounts. Several noted Titanic-related museums such as the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic (Halifax), the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, Virginia, and the Fall River (Massachusetts) Museum have written to express their desire to have the chair be part of their Titanic exhibitions
 

Philip Hind

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Ralph Cook

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Top left is Brass nameplate on back of headrest. The MMA Museum had there’s stolen when it was out of the case and people could get near to it.
Top right Hand carved five-point star a white star insignia.

Next row
Side view and front view of Titanic Deck Chair (Notice the slated wood grain this is different from the MMA Museum Chair with cane covering)

Next row and new post top left
Titanic researchers: LEFT Alan Ruffman, President of Geomarine Associates in Halifax, RIGHT Gary Shutlak, Senior Archivist at the Nova Scotia Public Archives.These two gentlemen were helpful in providing us some good advice, and some strong criticism to help us Authenticate out Titanic Deck Chair.

Right of that is a picture a reporter of the Inquirer and Mirror took of us on Nantucket Island LEFT Ralph Cook JR RIGHT Ian McCarthy


Bottom Row
Titanic Deck Chair in the exhibition in Orlando Florida at Titanic Ship of Dreams
 

Steve Santini

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Nov 22, 2000
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Dear Bob,
It was a pleasure to talk with you the other day. I have read your articles which were posted today re: the Olrando Titanic deck chair and noted with some dismay that it is a pity that more of my observations and comments regarding the provenance of the chair did not make it into the article. Oh well, I guess that's the way it goes in the news business. For those who visit this site and may be interested in this topic, I thought I would post some additional information about this chair which
has garnered it's fair share of attention. Although the owners of this chair did indeed travel to France in an effort to authenticate the chair, and although they did indeed uncover the records of the French Transatlantic Cable Company ,(for whom Captain Lemarteleur worked), they DID NOT uncover any documents in France which place the French Captain on board the Mackay Bennett for the Titanic victim recovery mission. In fact, the last record of the French Captain being aboard the Mackay Bennett is a cable repair order which lists his last day on board as April 3rd, 1912. The Captain was not a regular crew member and was only on board the Mackay Bennett to oversee a cable repair to one of his own companies cables.(As Lemarteleur's ship was broken at the time, the French cable company was sub contracting cable repairs out to the Mackay Bennett). Numerous times the owners of this chair have mentioned that they possess records which put the French Captain on board the Mackay Bennett
during April butI have not seen it mentioned that it was for ONLY ONE MISSION in April which terminated on April 3rd. Until further records are uncovered which state otherwise, we must believe that the French Captain who owned the chair WAS NOT on the Mackay Bennett body recovery mission. There are other problems as well. In a sworn and signed document by the French Captain's former house keeper, (which document, by the way, I some time ago downloaded from the "Chair Guys" web site),a one Margot Pennington, she states that she saw the deck chair in Captain Lemarteleur's garage and also in his den. These "sightings" of the chair would have to have occured before 1959/ 1960 when Captain Lemarteleur sold the chair to Captain Robin Lee of Halifax. (Lee gives this as the date when he acquired the chair in his sworn letter of authenticity) As Pennington (in her own words) later handwrote a SECOND provenance letter and stated that she immigrated to Canada in 1961, I have to wonder where indeed she actually saw this chair in Lemarteleur's house, as, by this time, the chair should have been at Robin Lee's abode. Speaking of this second provenance letter sworn by Pennington, it mentions in it's text that Captain Lemarteleur WAS on board the Mackay Bennett (her first sworn letter has him on his own ship, which was broken down at the time). I would like to know how, and/or why, suddenly, a second document is written and sworn to by this woman and why she did not mention Captain Lemarteleur's mention of the Mackay Bennett in the first letter she swore out and signed. It is these sorts of things that are making the issue of wether or not this chair was ever on the Titanic a hotly debated subject. Should you Bob, or, for that matter, anyone else, wish copies of the documents and paper work I have assembled on this chair ,and, the quest to prove it's origin, feel free to e mail me at [email protected]
Wether the chair is or is not from Titanic may be debated by some, but the documents are indeed fascinating reading regardless of where the origins of the chair may lie. Kind regards, Steve Santini.
 
Sep 12, 2000
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Thanks Steve for the information. It is always valuable to get all data when determining results.

I have responded to your email.
Maureen.
 

Ralph Cook

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Maureen thanks for your response to our email.

Hello Steve

Forgive me for responding to your message addressed to Bob, but I thought it
was appropriate. Bob has posted a copy here of an article he's written and
most of the messages are mine, so I hope you wouldn't mind me responding to
yours. You speak with a lot of CAPS that's not necessary here.

The documents that you have offered to share with individuals by way of
email were provided by Ian and myself to Ebay/Butterfields and are part of
our research collection. They in turn faxed them onto you. No need that I
can see to direct our viewers to your email for documents relating to this
chair. We are most willing to convey any documents in our possession here to
anyone. Do you have any research about our chair other then what you have
come to know from our own documents? We would be interested as this may be
helpful and shed some more light on what happened in 1912. Anyone loving
research would find it all very interesting.

I previously posted both documents written by Mrs. Pennington. It is a
silly point to focus on - if you want to chase technicalities or history,
take your pick. Of course she did not know the name of the ship to be the
Mackay-Bennett when we met her - if she did why would we bother to go to
Paris, France to research the Contre Amiral Caubet???

Ian and I are not, as you know, professional Titanic historians or artifact
experts. We made a few mistakes in our journeys. None of which we would
be embarrassed to explain openly to anyone who inquired. Some, such as you,
choose to ignore all of the preponderance of solid evidence and focus on
technicalities such as Mrs. Pennington's letters and the exact year she came
to
Canada.

Mrs. Pennington typed a letter at our request of her recollection of the
Captain's Story in 1998. We published it on the Internet. She did not know
the name of the ship the Captain was on, which is one reason we just assumed
it was the Contre Amiral Caubet, his ship of record.

After the chair went to the Orlando exhibition, the curator of the exhibit
wanted to have Mrs. Pennington provide a handwritten letter with a notary
stamp, and place it inside the glass case with the chair, for display
purposes. So we asked her to write out the story again, and send it to
Orlando. She wrote the name "Mackay-Bennett" because she was, by that time,
familiar with our discovery in France. The first letter was written in
early 1998, the second letter being written much later after the chair was
on loan to the exhibit. They chose not to display the letter after all, and
returned the 2nd letter to us, which we then kept in a file.

Now regarding some of your public statements:

It is not true that the "the last record of the French Captain being aboard
the Mackay Bennett is a cable repair order which lists his last day on board
as April 3rd, 1912".

Nor is it true that "The Captain was not a regular crew member and was only
on board the Mackay Bennett to oversee a cable repair to one of his own
companies cables.and that it was for only one mission in April which
terminated on April 3rd".

Let me set the record straight, historically: The Mackay-Bennett was under
French contract for ¾ of 1911 and all of 1912, not just one mission.
Captain LeMarteleur was one of two individuals that the Halifax based
division of the French Cable Company sent as a 'client representative' on
those missions. Captain LeMarteleur was listed as client representative for
missions after April 3rd, 1912 and missions before. They repaired many
cable breaks throughout that 2-year period not just one.

Our line of reasoning that makes us, and others, believe he was on the body
recovery mission is based on two sold points of evidence: (1) It is
consistent with the oral history that he told separately to Captain Lee and
also to Margarete. True the stories are sketchy and lack details, but the
common theme is that Captain LeMarteleur claimed to have overheard the SOS
from Titanic or regarding the Titanic as it was being relayed through the
skies, partaken in the "vain search for survivors", and retrieved a
deckchair and piece of cork life preserver from the floating debris.

Secondly, the Morning Chronicle newspaper of April 16, 1912 says that the
"Mackay-Bennett" and other local ships were "made ready" to go and assist
the Titanic in the early hours of the 15th if needed. It says that the
"Mackay-Bennett" had been taking in cable for a few days for the French
cable repair job off New York. The "Mackay-Bennett" repair logs indicate
that they took in cable from the hold of the disabled "Contre Amiral
Caubet," and thus they were side by side the night the Titanic sunk.

The same newspaper article goes on to indicate that the vessel's orders were
to recover bodies, land the bodies in New York, and while there perform the
cable repair on the ruptured French New York to Cape Cod cable. Captain
LeMarteleur would logically have been on board during this mission to
perform his duties as client representative for the CFCT in connection with
the cable repair job. Captain Larnder, no doubt owing to the mentally and
physically draining task at hand, abandoned the plan to perform the cable
repair a short time into the work. The book Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy
mentions that the "Mackay-Bennett" carried an "all-volunteer" crew (that is,
not everyone on board signed on the official crew agreements).

Ian says that he is aware that, through your telephone conversations with
him, you personally do not feel this is what happened.

But you yourself just advised him, just several weeks ago, on the telephone,
that you believed that he was given the chair and cork, perhaps through his
association with Captain Larnder. Whatever the case, we believe he was on
the mission because it harmonizes with the oral history". You choose not to
and that's fine too. But come on, he is a fellow Captain, on the
Mackay-Bennett the same period it recovered bodies from the Titanic, and has
a piece of cork from a Fosbury Life Jacket!

Also Frederic Hamilton, an engineer on the Mackay-Bennett, wrote in his
diary that they did recover at least one deck chair onto the Mackay-Bennett.
Where is that deck chair today?

Another of your comments regarding this chair is the date that the previous
owner claimed to obtain the chair (1959/60). Mrs. Pennington, the
housekeeper of the French Captain until his death in 1973, claims to have
seen the chair and knew of its existence despite the fact that she also
claimed to have immigrated to Canada in 1961. How could she have done so if
the chair was sold the year before she got there? You therefore take the
viewpoint - "Aha - It can't be from the Titanic!"

Mrs. Pennington is a wonderful person who loves Captain LeMarteleur and even
took him into her home. If you met her, you would see a lot more about her
testimony

Could it be that a more logical conclusion to this, is that either the
obtainer of the chair, or the housekeeper was mistaken in their recollection
of the precise year of this
insignificant-at-the-time, forty year old event?

It would not be uncommon that a date based on memory that far back (38 to 40
years) might not line up. Sometimes when you ask a couple what year did you
got married? A husband says 39 years. And the wife says 40. Did this mean
they were not married even if the kids say so? What do you think? Just a
thought to ponder.

I wonder if you too will publish and explain the provenance of your deck
chair that you claim is from Titanic also. I have no reason to doubt the
fact it would be interesting. Perhaps you would be willing do share those
lines of reasoning with us all here on this board??

You have seemed upset through the years over this. I hope I'm wrong, but I
sense that you're angry about this Titanic deck chair. I think of our
research as a 'work in progress' and we will continue to look more deeply
into the history of this chair!

We can all learn things. After all one of your first attacks on the chair
was that the Captain's ship couldn't haven't heard the relayed SOS from
Halifax harbor because steam vessels had to keep their engines going for
electricity in 1912. But you were able to learn, that in 1912, docks were
equipped with a system called 'shore power', and now you have moved on from
that point and on to others.

Thanks for your post here I don't mind criticism really it helps to refine
the work at hand.

Sincerely,

Ralph and Ian
 

Craig Sopin

Member
Dec 3, 2000
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0
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Hi Ralph-

I have reviewed both of Ms. Pennington's statements. It is a bit difficult to attribute those points which do not support your conlusions as "technical" while accepting those that could as "historical". Since both statements agree that the ship the cable captain was on did not recover any bodies, it could not have been the Mackay-Bennett.

Regards,
Craig Sopin
 

Steve Santini

Member
Nov 22, 2000
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Dear Ian and Ralph,
Let's see...
We have the sworn, written, and signed statements from both Captain Robin Lee, to whom Captain Lemarteleur (the origianl owner of the deck chair)later sold/ gave the chair, and Margot Pennington who looked after Lemarteleur in his final years. In both of these signed papers both Pennington and Lee are related the story, told by Lemarteleur himself, of how he recovered the deck chair. For the sake of argument, I have chosen to draw on Pennington's first statement before she wrote a second one which suddenly puts Captain Lemarteleur on board the Mackay Bennett. In BOTH Lee's and Pennington's signed statements, they relate that Lemarteleur tells them he was on his own ship (which, by the way, was broken at the time), he recieved Titanic's distress call, replied by radio asking if they could be of assistance (although Cape Race radio traffic records to not metion such a transmission), and later arrives at the scene of the disaster where he recovers from the water a piece of cork and a deck chair. Now remember,these are the words of the original owner of the deck chair as told to both the man he later sold/ gave the chair to, and, his live-in care giver. So, what do we know? We know that Lemarteleur's own ship was broken at the time, hence he could not have, as he claimed, been at sea and recieved Titanic's distress call.
We also know that had he been on board the Mackay Bennett for the body recovery mission, he most certainly would have told someone about it. He did not. In fact, every part of Lemarteleur's own story as he related it in his own words to two seperate people is simply not possible. If the guy who allegedly fished the chair from the water is telling others a tale that is simply not possible, who are we left to believe regarding the authenticity of the chair? Remember, this was the man who allegedly recovered the chair, and this was the man who was there and alive in 1912. It makes me wonder... Regards, Steve Santini
 

Steve Santini

Member
Nov 22, 2000
417
0
261
Dear Ian and Ralph,
I almost forgot...
Regarding the provenance of the chairs we hold which are attributed to the Titanic, (I say chairs because there is not one but two), I acquired both of them in the Canadian Maritimes. Unfortuantely, the chairs had gone through a series of owners before they came to us so all we were able to do is to relate the information that was orally imparted to us by the then current owners which stated that the chairs were recovered by the Minia in the wake of the Titanic disaster. It is of interest to note that both of these chairs show clear evidence of damage as would have been suffered during the sinking and both also clearly showed the effects of a multiple day immersion in salt water. It is also of interest to note that both of these chairs not only clearly match deck chairs pictured on the deck of Titanic, they also psysically match in structural design the chair currently on display in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. They do not have slatted seats (as yours does) but instead cane seats. In any and all displays in which we have shown one, or both, of these chairs, we have stated that the chair being displayed is either "attributed to", or "believed to be" from Titanic. In retrospect, perhaps this is an approach you should have considered when promoting your chair. (In fact, I believe I mentioned this display text which is often used by museums when I spoke to Ian a short while ago.) Best wishes, Steve Santini
 

Ralph Cook

Member
Nov 1, 2000
29
1
223
I have asked Philip Hind if he would be so kind to post here both statements from Miss Pennington so this discussion regarding them can be viewed.

You know this is so nice to listen to points and ideas here about our Titanic deck chair.
Thank You Craig Sopin
Thanks Steve Santini especially for the way you spoke here in this forum. This makes possible for allot of yet unknown facts to come out.

Tomorrow Ian will help me with some "technical" answers requested for.

But Steve when you say “tell them he was on his own ship” That dose not mean he purchased it rather he was on it. Margot Pennington spoke of this man as “the Captain” While speaking about him with her on matters other then the Titanic she would say

“the Captain”.

When you mention about the Contre Amiral Caubet cable ship

“could not have, as he claimed, been at sea and received Titanic’s distress call”

Did he say at sea anywhere? Perhaps the Contre Amiral Caubet cable ship had received the messages and Eves Michel his wireless radio operator on been bunked onboard. Where we have documents of Mackay Bennetts whereabouts with business records signed buy Captain LeMarteleur.

Even you mentioned
“on board as April 3rd, 1912”

Is it so much a stretch that he was on it then?
If we go to Paris we know where the records are regarding the Mackay Bennett for other dates too.

You also stated
“He did not.”

Because he didn’t tell anybody. Really know, not everone is as gaddy as we are rate now!

This point I think I could answer for you.
There was a reporter who tried to interview him. But Captain LeMarteleur would turn him down.
When we needed more information regarding the Captain we knocked on doors on the street where he lived. A pretty elderly woman named Miss Stewert said “come in boys” and said to us “would you like a smoke” we don’t smoke and we asked her if she knew the captain she said “Yes”. We immediately showed her our photo of the chair told her what we were doing there. We asked her if she saw it she said “No” and explained "he was very private man who would open up a little,that is after giving him a glass of cherry to drink."
Also we met or talked to on the phone not sure a schoolteacher from the collage there who knew him and said he was a very private person and they tried to have him over for dinner. Ian would have these names,if it mattered at all to this point.

Thanks, and again were refining the work at hand.

More to come from Ian Tomorrow
 
Sep 12, 2000
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It is easy to say things here and have them misconsrtued. I simply wish to clarify some things.

I noted in both an email I initiated to Steve and in a my response to Ian's email to me, that I felt that it is best that for this group, that all of the evidence that has been provided be exposed so that people can see all facets for themselves.

I also responded to Ian that I felt that Steve's offer to provide that info was merely being helpful to resaerchers so that they could see all sides.

Also in my email response to Ian, I corrected a misunderstanding that my email to Steve was to request this data. Ian in requesting that I ask he and Ralph personally for data reagrding their chair assumed that that was my reason for contacting Steve. So in my response to Ian, I advised that he was incorrect in his assumption, but my email to Steve was actually in regards to another issue, a special request that I do not wish to go into here.

It is good to see an open forum on this. I am not any kind of antique expert or even any type of historian, but all I know is that knowing the chain of evidence in a case is the only way of proof. This forum will help with that.

Maureen.
 
Dec 13, 1999
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Message for Craig Sopin - So, you have made an appearance at last my boy! Many thanks for your last email, I'm still having problems with my emails so will get back to you as soon as I can. Hope Ruth is well - give her our love.
Geoff
 

Ralph Cook

Member
Nov 1, 2000
29
1
223
In response to Mr. Sopin,

You have to know Mrs. Pennington and Captain Lee to understand what occured.
In 1959-61, the Titanic incident in Halifax was not a big deal. Everyone
seemed to know someone with a Titanic artifact. Captain Lee was a Surveyor
on the Commercial Cable Company's ship the John W. Mackay (same company as
the Mackay-Bennett). He met the 80 year old Captain LeMarteleur when the
old man came on board Lee's ship as a consultant hired by Commercial Cable.
Captain LeMarteleur began reminiscing about his earlier days at sea
including the Titanic disaster. Captain LeMarteleur was a Frenchman who
spoke English, and of course details can be lost in translation, or not as
easily remembered by hearers. The points that Captain Lee remembered (and
we have drilled his memory for everything) from 40 years ago are that (a)
Captain LeMarteleur was working the company's transatlantic cables during
the time, (b)that his group overheard the SOS distress signal, (c)that he
participated in "vain search for survivors", and that he (d)"retrieved a
deck chair and a piece of cork life preserver". That's it - no name of a
ship, no date, that's all we had to work from in the beginning.

We found Mrs. Pennington on lark and thought meeting her would be important
because Captain Lee's letter also stated that Captain LeMarteleur had given
the cork to Mrs. Margarete Buchholz (married later as Pennington) and told
her his story. Captain Lee did not know Margarete nor could he help us even
find where she lived. We did that by knocking on doors on the street where
Captain Lemarteleur once lived and met an elderly lady who knew Margarete
and the Captain.

We introduced ourselves to Mrs. Pennington and explained we were researching
the Captain's life and we owned something that belonged to him. All I did
was to take a picture of the chair out and set it on her table. She lept
out of her chair and exclaimed "I know that deck chair, that deck chair was
from the Titanic and was the Captain's, he gave it to a Captain Lee!".
Ralph and I were floored. We asked her for her recollection of the
Captain's story. She went on to relate that the Captain had told her his
account. Keep in mind that the Captain was a Frenchman, Margarete was German
and did not speak English or French. Captain LeMarteleur taught her how to
speak English over the 13 or so years she cared for him. But from her
memory she related to us these points (b) the Captain's wireless officer
whom she named "Yves Michel" alerted "Capitaine, Capitaine, Titanic has
stuck an iceburg!" The Captain asked him to find out if they are in need of
assistance. The reply came back "Yes but the Russian ship is closer and is
responding". (c) they thent actually went to the scene of the disaster to
assist, and while there (d)retrieved a piece of cork and the deck chair. In
her recollection, he did not see any bodies just debris.

It was amazing to us how (b), (c), and (d) lined up to each other. Yes they
each have unique subtle details but they are basically the same story. Was
she wrong about the bodies? Maybe she misunderstood him. Oral history, I
have learned, is an extremely tricky and unreliable source. What
professional researchers do is to take the points from several different
oral accounts that agreee as fact, and discard or reserve judgement on the
points that they differ on.

What we did, as unexperienced researchers, is type out Margarete's story and
have her sign it (that is letter 1). The date of the letter is the date we
first met her. Then months and months later (after we had made the
Mackay-Bennett discovery in France) the Orlando exhibit wanted a handwritten
letter from her to put in the glass case for display purposes. I guess we
all thought she would write the same letter. She wrote letter 2 and
included the Mackay-Bennett as the ship - which was our discovery alone.
What can I say? She is not a historian or expert she was a housekeeper. I
guess she thought that is what the exhibit wanted.

So our point to Steve was that he can focus on technicalities like Mrs.
Pennington's error in writing a letter to Orlando and including the name
Mackay-Bennett. Or you can look at the fact that when we left for Paris
everyone (including Steve) was critical of us because we thought Captain
LeMarteleur recovered the chair and cork on his own ship, the Contre Amiral
Caubet. No one knew Captain Lemarteleur was on the Mackay-Bennett in April
1912! No one knew it was under French contract for 2 years because the
Contre was disabled. No one knew, until Titanic author and Halifax
historian Alan Ruffman discovered for us, a Halifax newspaper account saying
that the Mackay-Bennett had heard, through wireless, that the Titanic was in
trouble on April 15th! No one knew until we uncovered the Mackay-Bennett
repair logs that the Contre and the MB were sitting side by side the on
April 15th when the Titanic sunk thus harmonizing with the oral histories of
both Captain Lee and Margarete. The same paper describing the MB's mission
as to repair a French cable on the SAME trip as recovering the bodies - no
one knew that.

But Steve's entire focus is on 3 points: (1) the year Margarete came to
Canada and the year Captain Lee got the chair, according to their Oral
history, is off by one year (after 40 years of recollection), (2) that
Margarete in her ignorance wrote the 2 letters, and (3) that the newspaper
is wrong and Captain LM was not on the MB for the body recovery mission.

Even though he has told us on the phone that he believes that Captain LM got
the chair and cork through his working relationship with the MB. Whatever
the case, the Captain has a lot of circumstance to have gotten the chair and
the cork.

And the fact that it is a chair AND a cork is pretty interesting considering
the cork has been verified to be from a Fosbury Lifejacket (which were only
on the Titanic and Olympic).
Ian McCarthy
 

Craig Sopin

Member
Dec 3, 2000
35
0
236
Hi Geoff-

Yes, I've breached years of anonymity in making my appearance. However, I don't expect that I'll be a regular contributor. It was good to hear from you. Regards to you and your family.

Craig

Hi Ian-

Thank you for sharing your experiences in Nova Scotia with me. I spoke to Captain Lee and his wife some years ago following the original auction of the chair. He seemed quite comfortable with the time line and did not believe that the cable captain was on the body mission. Although there are differences between the three statements (2 from Pennington and 1 from Lee) they all have the captain at sea, not in the harbor, when his radio operator heard the distress call. However, there is no verifiable record of his cable ship assisting in a vain search for survivors. If Lee's and Pennington's memories are selective due to the influence of time, etc. it is unlikely that they would both remember a story related to them at different times by the same person the same wrong way. One other report I've read has the Mackay-Bennet at sea from April 12 to April 16, when it was recalled to recover bodies. Another has it in Halifax Harbor. Either way, how could LeMarteleur have asked Titanic if assistance were needed? First, a need for assistance should have been more or less obvious from a distress call from a sinking ship. Second, what assistance could he have provided with his own ship out of service, let alone actually going out to the scene of the disaster to assist? There are no verifiable records of his appearance on the scene or of any radio traffic that night from Yves Michel. I realize that Pennington was a maid, not a historian, but her statements are not intented to be historical dissertations, just memoranda of her recollection. Since her recollection is sufficiencly similar to Lee's I see no reason to discount it because of her profession. Perhaps it would have been better to provide the Orlando exhibit with her first statement rather than to have her write a second one which wasn't used anyway, and also to have provided Butterfield's with both statements in all candor (or if you did than for Butterfield's to have released both). There are simply irreconciliable differences between the two which are fatal, not technical.

As for the newspaper account you refer to, I read it. The author of the article speculates on the Mackay-Bennett going to fix the New York cable after picking up the bodies. He was misinformed, as were many newspaper reporters early on. The bodies had to be preserved with ice and embalmed. Ice, by the way, which was stored at around the same place the cable would have been if the Mackay-Bennett actually had any on board. There were undertakers and clergy on board. Arrangements were being made for receiving the bodies in Halifax with surviving family members en route there to identify and claim their loved ones. The French Cable company released Mackay-Bennett from its contract to fix the cable. Under the circumstances, it is unreasonable to conclude that before bringing the bodies back to shore they would then go to fix a cable while the relatives waited and the ice melted. Nor would it be feasible to land the bodies in NY as no arrangements were made there, etc. Thus, there would be no reason for the French captain to be on the body recovery mission, nor is there any record of appreciation or thanks given to LeMarteleur or his company from White Star, Commercial Cable or the French company in any part he played in body recovery nor is there any record of payment to him or his company for such services (an "all volunteer" crew did not mean the crew weren't paid). In fact, when the M-B eventually did go to fix the NY cable, LeMarteleur was't on board.

There are certainly rumors that pieces of life jackets were given as souvenirs. Perhaps the captain got one. If you can get over the apparent design differences between your chair and other Titanic deck chairs, this could also provide an explanation for how LeMarteleur got the chair. Otherwise, one explanation is that it is just a generic White Star or Cunard-White Star deck chair once owned by a man who liked to tell tall tales, not realizing that some day we'd learn that his ship was actually out-of-service in April 1912.

I look forward to the posting of Lee's and both of Pennington's statements as it has been some time since I've seen her first one.

It was nice being able to talk to you about the origins of your chair and look forward to learning more about it as you do. Good luck.

Regards,
Craig Sopin
 

Mike Herbold

Member
Dec 13, 1999
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Without knowing any of the details or background of this story, I was struck by the possible significance of the phrase "search for survivors" rather than a search for bodies.
 
I

Ian McCarthy

Guest
Dear Craig,

The concept that the Captain was at sea while he overheard the SOS and then raced to the scene, was what drove us crazy in the pre-France research. Because of the sequence of events we went through, we were convinced, by the Captain's character and humble manner, that his story was true.

So we went to France and discovered the Mackay-Bennett/French Cable Co. connection with Captain LeMarteleur being named as on board the mission ending April 3, 1912.

Captain Lee's phrase "vain search for survivors" was what we thought to be immediately after the sinking. But "vain" implies that it was not looking for survivors as Mike Herbold just pointed out. In fact at dinner with Captain Lee in 1998, he pointed out that it was his choice of wording and not Captain Lemarteleur's. The mission to recover bodies is a vain search for survivors.

Neither Lee or Margarete know whether the Captain was at sea or not when he heard the distress call. Of course, if a Captain told you that he received a signal 20 years ago while fishing the Grand Banks, you would assume that he was literally sitting in a boat on the Grand Banks with his lines in the water at the exact moment the signal came in, right? But it could be that they were in St. Johns refueling for a few days and the boat next to them heard the signal and informed it to others. The story is still true. Its the hearers' assumptions which are wrong. I'm not saying this is absolutely the way it happened, what I'm saying is that we have to take the oral history and only accept the parts of it which agree with verifiable facts.

The facts are:

*The Mackay-Bennett was in port on April 15th.
*The Contre Amiral Caubet was next to it that night.
*A wireless distress signal regarding the Titanic was received in Halifax Harbor on the 15th.
*The message that was originally circulated was that the liner was damaged and being towed by the Asian to Halifax.
*The MB, the Seal, & the Florizel were ready on the 15th to go and assist if needed.
*The MB was taking in cable from the hold of the Contre Amiral Caubet up to or on the 15th (for a week the paper says) to go and do the French cable repair off New York.

*Both oral accounts refer to the Captain receiving the distress call.
*The idea that the Captain offered to go and assist the Titanic is factually in line with the first report of the Asian.
*Margarete's account of a Russian ship being closer is factually in line with the fact that the Russian vessel, The Birma, was responding to the SOS also.
*Captain Lee's statement that the Captain "was patrolling the company's transatlantic cables" is reconciliable with the fact that on the 3rd they had just returned to Halifax from one repair and on the 6th starting loading up for another repair.


Regarding the mission of the Mackay-Bennett, the article that the mission was to "land the bodies in New York" and then repair the cable break between the New York to Cape Cod cable. The French Cable Company records indicate that the break was right at the junction of New York. It is also a fact that many relatives of Titanic victims were originally told to go to New York to retrieve their relatives bodies and then later to Halifax.

The article was written on the 17th after the MB had left Halifax and said that the decision would be made by Captain Larnder once they were into the work.

Again, I am not saying as doctrine that Captain Lemarteleur was definitely on board that ship on that mission. But I am saying that I believe the oral history sufficiently enough, to take what evidence there is, and to say that I believe he was on that ship. The newspaper writer supports my hunch. Whether the newspaper is inaccurate or not, I have not seen historical documented proof otherwise.

The the fact the Mr. Neyenreuf took Captain LeMarteleur's place on the New York to Cape Cod cable repair, as you point out, seems to me to be circumstantial evidence that JLM was on the prior mission. I know if I ended up going on such a emotionally draining mission, I would want the next one off too! Unless you're implying Mr. Neyenreuf was on the body recovery mission?

Thank you for your interest in our chair and its history, no doubt with all the new interest Ralph and I will be going to France someday again!

Ian McCarthy
 
I

Ian McCarthy

Guest
Steve,

Thank you for sharing the few details you have of your 2 Titanic deck chairs. It seems you have no documented proof at all of their origin other than just the oral history of the series of several owners for each chair.

Similarity of design with the 3 or so photographs of the Titanic's deck chairs, as you know, is no proof whatsoever of a chairs origin. Neither is salt water or structural damage. If it is, then go and buy the White Star Line chair that was found washed up on a beach of the St. Lawrence River. It too matches the "Titanic" Chair and has salt water and structural damage. There is no way it is from the Titanic.

There were probably many hundreds of deck chairs over the past century and a half that made it into the North Atlantic. The fact that the chairs were found in the Canadian Maritimes insures that they would've only gotten there via floating in the ocean and thus have damage and salt on them.

Our chair does match a chair on the deck of the Titanic in the Queenstown Photo. In fact, I appreciated very much your advice to me, that it is a strong point of our chair's claim to authenticity. You of all people know this because you wrote an article on all the different types of deck chairs that were on the Titanic.

And it was Jack Eaton who told Ralph and I that none of the Titanic's chairs were made for the Titanic. As there was a coal strike at the time and there were many White Star ships that were laid up in Southampton, the Titanic had many supplies such as deck chairs and coal simply taken off other ships and used by her.

In any event, you are wise to say "believed to be" or "attributed to" the Titanic so as to avoid showing your provenance to all or having to defending your claim.

In addition, engineer Frederic Hamilton records in his diary that the Mackay-Bennett recovered a deck chair on the morning of April 22 - only 1 week after our chair would've gone into the water. It does have some structural damage to it and the headrest is cracked from behind. But it was in the water for a lot less time than the chair or chairs recoverd by the Minia which did its work in mid May.

Ian
 
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