Home  |  News  |  UK News  |  Relative discovers Titanic captain's telescope in the attic

Relative discovers Titanic captain's telescope in the attic

by Adam Faulkner. Published Fri 08 Jul 2011 15:33

A telescope that belonged to the captain of the Titanic has been found lying in a dusty old attic.

The brass eyepiece, kept in an old whisky bottle box, bears the name "Edward John Smith" who was the master of the ill-fated ocean liner that sank in 1912.

It also carries an engraved image of the Titanic's sister ship - RMS Olympic - which Smith commanded for ten months.

The three-foot long spyglass was identified by auctioneer John Crane after he was invited to value artefacts belonging to a distant relative of Captain Smith.

It is expected to fetch more than £20,000 when it goes under the hammer at the Cato Crane Auction Rooms in Liverpool on 28th July.

A delighted Mr Crane said: "This is a wonderful piece - a personal telescope that Captain Smith would have used throughout his tenure on the Olympic.

"The remarkable thing is that this telescope must have witnessed some grave moments.

"The Olympic was involved in four serious collisions while Captain Smith was in command of it.

"It's a fascinating historical artefact and it demonstrates that there is still material out there with Titanic connections still waiting to be discovered.

"We are expecting a even greater interest than ever for this item, since it is coming up to the 100 anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

"The Olympic itself was Captain Smith's first experience of commanding a huge vessel.

"As a result of the ship's mishaps, the White Star Line had to delay the Titanic's launch because they diverted some parts to repair the Olympic.

"This telescope is completely unique and probably one of the most important pieces of Titanic-associated memorabilia to be found in recent years."

Experts have confirmed the provenance of the fully functioning four draw, leather bound navigational instrument.

Among the other items which belonged to Captain Smith by the anonymous vendor, are a White Star Line sextant and a cigar holder. Completing the collection are a pair of the seafarer's epaulets.

Maritime history expert Peter Boyd-Smith, who specialises in ocean liner memorabilia believes buyers will clamour to own pieces closely-associated to Titanic.

Mr Boyd-Smith said: "As far as Maritime memorabilia goes it's a fantastic collection.

"Captain Smith would have been the only one on the Olympic with a personalised telescope, so it is a very rare piece indeed.

"The other offices would have had a similar telescope but it certainly would not have been inscribed with their names.

"It is museum piece and with a bit of luck it will end up in a glass cabinet for visitors to see.

"Very few of Captain Smith's belongings have ever been located so to have this small but unique collection is special."

The telescope find comes weeks Captain Smith's monogrammed cigar humidor was sold to a Swedish collector at a Liverpool auction for £25,000.

Captain Smith's telescope, along with the rest of his personal belongings, will go under the hammer at Cato Crane Auctioneers, Liverpool on 28th July

* Born in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent in 1850, Captain Smith was the son of a potter.

He attended the Etruria British School until the age of 13 before moving to Liverpool to begin a seafaring career with shipping line Gibson & Co.

Joining White Star Line in 1880 he gained his first command in 1887 going on to captain ships including the Republic, the Coptic, Majestic, Baltic, Adriatic, Olympic and of the infamous steamship - The RMS Titanic.

The RMS Titanic hit an iceberg on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City, and sank on 15th April 1912.

The 1,517 people perished, including Captain Smith, in one of the worst maritime disasters in world history.


Post a comment

You have 140 characters left

"This instrument could have been used in the Titanic if Captain E.J Smith had remember. He will remember for his great work" Ivan, South Africa around 3 years, 2 months ago

"Wow what a brilliant find! check out more info on Titanic Memorabilia: http://www.the-titanic.com/Gallery/Videos/Titanic-Memorabilia.aspx" titanicstories, Belfast around 4 years ago

Got a story?