Rare photograph of 'Captain Smith' to be auctioned

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Rare photograph of 'Captain Smith' to be auctioned

A figure reminiscent of Captain Edward John Smith, wearing the uniform and cap of the mercantile marine rather than the White Star Line, is shown attending the launch of a ship, probably at the Harland & Wolff shipyard in c.1909.  

There is no positive identification of the figure or the location.

The lot (#290) formed part of Henry Aldridge & Son's regular Titanic, White Star, Ocean Liner and Travel Memorabilia auction.  The rare photograph, which could depict the White Star Line's most senior Captain and Titanic's commander, was auctioned on 14 November 2020.

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Edward John Smith


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Comment and discuss

  1. avatar

    Dan Parkes said:

    It is quite clearly NOT Captain Smith, not by a long stretch. Compare with actual photographs of the man:

  2. avatar

    Cam Houseman said:

    hmmm, we have a mystery man on our hands! Who is he?

  3. avatar

    IcySofter said:

    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... Read full post

  4. avatar

    IcySofter said:

    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.

  5. avatar

    Cam Houseman said:

    I think he does too, but we'll just have to see what happens

  6. avatar

    Steven Christian said:

    One would hope the auction house has done their job verifing it. Either way it is a cool looking photo.

  7. avatar

    Dan Parkes said:

    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... Read full post

  8. avatar

    IcySofter said:

    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!

  9. avatar

    IcySofter said:

    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... Read full post

  10. avatar

    Arun Vajpey said:

    Old bthat can be very easily passed off as that of Captain Smith.

  11. avatar

    Steven Christian said:

    Common in those days until Mr. Gillette came along with his... Read full post

  12. avatar

    Steven Christian said:

    The angle of the photo does make it confusing. There are other pics with him having the... Read full post

  13. avatar

    Jim Currie said:

    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... Read full post

  14. avatar

    Cam Houseman said:

    Oh yeah, Jim would know! Thank you Jim

  15. avatar

    Doug Criner said:

    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.

  16. avatar

    Arun Vajpey said:

    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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Encyclopedia Titanica (2020) Rare photograph of 'Captain Smith' to be auctioned ( ref: #190, published 12 November 2020, generated 31st July 2021 07:23:54 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/rare-photograph-of-captain-smith-to-be-auctioned.html