Titanic Watch Ebay Auction Ended A Question of Provenance

Titanic Watch Attributed to Thomas Mullen / Mullin - A Question of Provenance?

I see the much hyped so called Mullen / Mullin Titanic Watch Auction on ebay has been Withdrawn with all bids having been mysteriously cancelled. Perhaps the seller found a direct purchaser ?

It had reached £10,600 before the plug was pulled on it.

This watch was sold in 2004 by Aldridges at which time it had No Provenance either to being on Titanic or having been in Thomas Mullens (Stewards) Actual Possession. The only link it actually had was that it had appeared in an earlier Auction in Scotland along side other items which did have a proper provenance, whilst the watch itself had none. (This was the way Aldridges described it)

Enquiries at the time of Aldridges Sale in 2004 at the Nova Scotia Coroners Office revealed that this watch, was not mentioned in anyway, following recovery of the body, and despite extensive enquiries by Aldridges and others, no evidence could be found to show it had been on Titanic, or had been found on Thomas Mullen's body.

I heard a BBC Radio Scotland News interview on Thursday (Newsdrive) when questions were raised regarding the watches authenticity following all the media hype. The theme of the interview was that little has changed and no conclusive proof or new provenance has been uncovered which would materially change the status of this item.
Mr. Howard,

"Henry Aldridge & son" sold watch WITH NO
/first class/PROVENANCE impossible, they are
Most known world auctioneers excuse me,auction
house, Titanic related items /memorabilia/.
/Besides my motto is: Today on Ebay tomorrow is
in trash basket./Only direct contact and sale.
I had very bad experience with Aldridges,
even if I offered first class relic.
Do you know what was problem? In that tragic
moments I mean on sinking my great grand
father didn`t make a photo so today I haven`t
proof, he have worn eyeglasses on his face
during traveling exactly sinking.
That was Aldridges explanation.After that
conversation my understanding about their
auction house is quite clear.

If you wish we can continue privately.

This is one reason I prefer to collect, primarily paper ephemera... 90% of my collection carries it's own provenance. For example a postcard mailed from the retun-half of LUSITANIA's maiden crossing. It wears PAQUE BOT and QUEENSTOWN Sept. '07 postmarks, and a beautiful message "Frank, I wish you could be here with me, three times around this ship is one mile".

I was so fortunate in finding it at an Antique show in Reno, NV, many years ago.

Michael Cundiff
Hi James, to answer your question ~ yes. Many of those heated posts from the thread that Ray linked to above have since been removed from this site due to their inappropriate content. A shame in a way, since they revealed some true colors.
>>A shame in a way, since they revealed some true colors.<<

Maybe but since the potential for adverse consequences (legal action) is out there, it would be wise to tread lightly on this subject.
Hi Michael,

Your choice is good. 90% of my collection carries it's own provenance.Unfortunately it`s not possible in every case /item/.
Unfortunately my great grand father didn`t keep
a bill of eyeglasses.


Timothy Trower

I think the original thread was pulled in its entirety. The thread referenced above was started after the key (and fake tag) sold.

The first thread was getting just a little hot ...

Incidentally, no legal action was ever taken against me.

Paul Rogers

My local newspaper is covering the "Thomas Mullin's watch" story today - as the seller is apparently a resident of my home town.

The story can be found here.

Kevin Saucier

In the Titanic collecting world the relics are affordable...it's the provenance that costs!

Just checked in, to find this thread has been somewhat hijacked, lost its way, which is a great pity.

When I started it, it was purely as an information regarding the ebay watch, If you read about Thomas Mullen on the Crew Board you will see it was myself who discovered Mullen Archive including the watch in 2003 , and despite a great deal of work by myself , Aldridges Auction house, and liasing with the Nova Scotia authorities we could find no proof the watch had been on Titanic or had been found on Mullens body. As far as I am personally aware nothing has changed.

When I mentioned Aldridges above , it was to draw attention to the fact that they sold it in 2004, quite properly making it clear that there was no direct provenance on this item, but explaining in the catalogue that it had been found with other items in a Scottish Auction which were provenanced. In doing so they acted quite properly and ethically. I was and still am most impressed by their integrity , honesty and professionalism.

Marko appears to have misread or misunderstood my initial message, which was to make the point that the watch was sold ethically in 2004 making quite clear there was no direct provenance (which I believe remains unchanged). His further dialogue appears to be some form of criticism or disgruntlement because of a refusal to sell an item of his without proper provenance. I dont know why he should choose this thread as its not relevant to Mullens Watch.

At this point the thread had been hijacked with libellous rhetoric which is unfortunate as it is clear that the contributors have their own agenda's , adverts and all.

To bring this all back down to earth , the point I was trying to make was that you have to be very sure of an items provenance before you spend tens of thousands on an item. I dont believe an online auction gives you that security, and if the press are to be believed, Online auctions in some cases (not all) can, at times be little more than "sharks waiting for fools".

My own experience in Selling with a recognised and universally respected Auction House, namely Aldridges was that whilst they represented my interests well, they also acted in the very best interests of their customers by rigorously examining my provenance and making sure that it stood up to cross examination in every respect. Where there was a problem, for example in the case of the watch , they made every effort to carry out further extensive enquiries, and only when these were fully exhausted was the watch properly catalogued that no provenance existed. I dont believe such quality of service and security for buyers will ever be achieved by anonymous online auctions.I would have no hesitation in using Aldridges again or recommending them to others.

Philip Hind

Staff member
The ongoing debate over provenance may have its benefits to buyers in some cases, but the Titanic 'community' is too small a niche for debates to be carried on in this manner without causing offence and reputational damage, not only to Aldridge's in this case, but also to the site that you are using to carry on the crusade.

We all have to rub along together somehow so please temper your remarks.

If you cannot discuss issues of interest like this without resorting to derogatory remarks or implying some form of dishonesty then you may find yourselves compelled to discuss it elsewhere.
Hey Phil,

Is that what happened to my one post? I never intended to be derogatory. I never mentioned any names, and as long as one doesn't mention any names or make any direct association with any particular entity, one is okay. Mine, if I remember, was a general statement. Dishonesty is a way of the world, even on the Internet. Is this one subject about which we are not allowed to converse, even in general?

Philip Hind

Staff member
and as long as one doesn't mention any names or make any direct association with any particular entity, one is okay

I could not disagree more.

We live in the real world not a legalistic neverland. References explicit or implied regarding real people in a community as small as this cannot be overlooked so casually.
but also to the site that you are using to carry on the crusade . . . If you cannot discuss issues of interest like this without resorting to derogatory remarks or implying some form of dishonesty then you may find yourselves compelled to discuss it elsewhere.

The danger of hurting ET's reputation I do understand.

I never meant to take the hammer to anybody; mine were general terms. As a one-time editor of two of publications, I understand the need for appropriateness and caution, not to mention responsible commentary, which is why my remarks, not 'heated' in the slightest (in my opinion), were curbed to general references.

Besides, I was not the only person here talking about scams and other dishonest practices. As a matter of fact, I didn't even start the conversation.

On the other hand, the public reads this forum, and such comments can possibly create an undesirable image for ET. I do not want to see ET get hurt through my careless yet well-meaning actions. My heartfelt apologies for having said anything out-of-line. Again, it wasn't intended to be derogatory, only casual commentary.

Timothy Trower

I would simply like the scammers who do frequent this site (and especially this type of thread) to know that they are being watched. Several of us keep a very close eye on eBay and other auction sites -- keeping a watchful eye out for fakes -- and although only one former eBay seller has been indicted, yet another prolific seller (and scammer) has (for the time being) virtually abandoned selling Titanic fakes.

And that is the true worth of threads like these.
Hi Tim,

You put the notice on the right place. Thanks.
Your opinion is always objective.
I didn`t want hurt anyone on this forum
especially auction house.My excuse to all,
I`v just told my experience with above
mentioned AH.

Hello Mr. David Robert Howard,

Please excuse me if I made something wrong
related to your post.My experience with
A.H. BONHAMS /London/and /San FRANCISCO/ was
excellent even if didn`t sell my Great Grand
father`s eyeglasses.Experts like Mr. John
Badelley and Mr. Lionel Willis from BONHAMS
are EXCELLENT and thanks them for corectitude.
I will never forget their words
Titanic memorabilia market is volatile, be
careful.During last year and half I read
many posts, comments, discussion on this forum
visited many E buy auction related to Titanic
and finally I understood what does it means
About eyeglasses DON`T BE AFRAID
they have very good provenance almost Miss
Nora Keane pocket watch,but they are to small
and it`s imposiblle to engrave a long text like
Nora`s mother did.
Besides who would be interested for gold
plated eyeglasses belonged to 3rd class
passenger from Balkan area without proper
provenance.In my post No 68 I didn`t say
anything against your work, and really very
good I understood your text.

Thank you