Original launch ticket for Titanic set for auction

NEW YORK Wed Apr 11, 2012 4:20am IST

1 of 10. A visitor to the Bonham's auction house looks over antique newspaper headlines related to the sinking of the Titanic, on display in New York April 10, 2012. Bonham's will sell off items such as telegrams, books, newspapers, and replicas from the film 'Titanic''for the auction 'R.M.S. Titanic: 100 Years of Fact and Fiction' on Sunday, April 15, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Keith Bedford

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A rare original launch ticket that could sell for up to $70,000 will be the highlight of an auction in New York of Titanic memorabilia to mark the centennial anniversary of the ill-fated voyage, Bonham's said on Tuesday.

The ticket, which has its perforated admission stub still intact, would have allowed its holder to the launching and christening of the Titanic. But the operator White Star Line and builder Harland & Wolff did not christen the ship before its maiden voyage when it sank during the night of April 14-15 after hitting an iceberg, leading to the loss of 1,517 lives.

"The interest in the Titanic far surpasses the sinking or wreck of any other ship, making it an historical bookmark," Gregg Dietrich, Bonham's Maritime consultant, said in a statement announcing the April 15 sale.

A hand-written two-page report by Captain Arthur Henry Rostron, who was the captain of the rescue ship Carpathia, is expected to be another star lot that is expected to fetch as much as $120,000.

"At 12:35 am ship's time, April 15 ... 1912, I was called by the 1st officer in company with Marconi operator ... informed that the White Star Liner 'Titanic' was sending out urgent distress signals by wireless that she had struck ice & required immediate assistance ... I immediately ordered Carpathia turned round ... also sent wireless to Titanic saying we were coming to his assistance," Rostron wrote.

Letters and postcards from Titanic survivors, items from the 1953 film and James Cameron's 1997 movie about the tragedy and three framed Marconi messages saying "TITANIC HAS SUNK" will also be included in the auction.

The sale is one many exhibitions, voyages and auctions marking the anniversary. Guernsey's Auction House will be selling more than 5,500 artifacts recovered from the wreck site of the Titanic to only one bidder.

All of the items, which are owned by RMS Titanic Inc., will be sold as a single collection. Videos of dives to the wreck, 3D images of the sunken vessel and a survey map of the wreck site also will be included in the Guernsey sale.

The company said on Tuesday it is in confidential discussions with multiple parties for the purchase of the collection. A press conference scheduled for Wednesday will be rescheduled, it added in a statement.

A 2007 appraisal of the artifacts and certain elements of RMS Titanic, Inc's intellectual property, which is also part of the sale, valued it at $189 million, according to the company.

Mark Seller, chairman of Premier Exhibitions, Inc. and RMS Titanic, Inc. said the company has spent millions of dollars and countless hours to retrieve and restore the items.

"After all of these efforts, we have determined that the time has come for us to transfer ownership of this collection to a steward who is able to continue our efforts and will preserve and honor her legacy," he said in a statement.

(Reporting by Patricia Reaney; editing by)

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