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Titanic memorabilia sells for over $100G

Auctioneer Philip Weiss holds a locket owned by

Auctioneer Philip Weiss holds a locket owned by the wife of Edward Smith, the captain of the RMS Titanic, bearing his picture. This is one of the items included in the Titanic collection being auctioned in Oceanside. (Oct. 20, 2011) Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

A collection of more than 100 items of Titanic memorabilia, including a rare letter written on the ship's stationery the day it sailed on its first and last voyage, sold for $100,570 Friday night.

The collection, which had been estimated to sell for $50,000 to $75,000, was one of seven lots of Titanic material sold by Philip Weiss Auctions in Oceanside. It was purchased by a private collector who did not want to be identified. The price includes a 13 percent buyer's premium.

The letter is on stationery that reads "On board R.M.S. Titanic" and is dated April 10, 1912 -- five days before an iceberg sent the ship to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. It was written by passenger John Snyder of Minneapolis, who survived with his wife, Nelle.

A descendant gave the artifacts to Weiss. The family thought that next year's centennial of the sinking would increase interest.

The collection included a photograph taken April 18 after the ocean liner Carpathia had brought survivors to New York. It shows the Snyders, who were returning from their honeymoon in England, wearing the same clothes they had on the night the Titanic sank. There were only 706 survivors from among the 2,223 passengers and crew.

Before the Titanic left London, Snyder, then 24, used the ship's stationery to write to the owner of a London tobacco shop, thanking him for the cigars he was enjoying on board.

Even more important in historical terms is a letter Snyder wrote his father after returning to Minneapolis. He wrote: "We were both asleep when the boat hit. . . . When we reached the top deck, only a few people were about and we all were told to go down & put on our life belts. . . . We were almost the very first people placed in the Lifeboat. Only a very few people were on deck at the time and they thought it much safer to stay on the big boat than to try the life boat."

He continued that he could tell the ship was going down because he could see fewer lines of lit portholes as time went by. "Finally, the bow went under," he wrote, and "the finest boat in the world was doomed."

Other separate items of interest included:

A 1906 half-dollar coin recovered from the body of Titanic victim John Gill. It sold for $3,850; the estimated sale price was $1,000 to $2,000.

A portrait of the Titanic's captain in his wife's locket. It sold for $3,500; the estimated price was $1,500 to $2,500.

A piece of the ship's carpet taken by steward F. Dent Ray sold for $1,600; the estimated price was $2,000 to $3,000.

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