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Titanic Violin Found Is Authentic, Worth Six Figures: 'One Of The Most Iconic Pieces Of Memorabilia From The 20th Century'

By Staff Writer | March 15, 2013 03:25 PM EDT

Wallace Hartley and the Titanic band
(Photo : ITV/REX FEATURES)

Titanic violin found, the instrument was found seven years ago in Britain, and now has been authenticated as the violin played by the bandleader as the Titanic sank.

One of the most memorable scenes from the 1997 Leonardo DiCaprio-Kate Winslet blockbuster "Titanic" was when 'the band played on' as the ship sank into the frigid waters.

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Survivors of the Titanic tragedy spoke of the band, led by Wallace Hartley, playing on deck of the shop while passengers scrambled into lifeboats as the ship sank.

The violin that Hartley played as the tragedy unfolded has been found and authenticated said British auction house Henry Aldridge & Son on Friday.

According to auctioneers, the Titanic violin was brought to them in 2006 and they have spent the last seven years and thousands of dollars proving that it is, in fact, the very same violin owned by Hartley and played as the Titanic sank into the cold waters of the Atlantic.

The auction house said initially they believed the find was "too good to be true" but after consulting with numerous experts and having the salt water-stained instrument go through rigorous forensic testing, they now have said without a doubt, the violin is authentic.

"The deposit on it and the corrosion on it were compatible with immersion in sea water," said Andrew Aldridge, a leading authority on memorabilia from the Titanic. "We also employed a jewelery expert, who confirmed that the inscriptions on the plaque on the violin were contemporary."

The violin was a gift from Hartley's fiancee, Maria Robinson, as an engagement present in 1910. She had a silver plaque added to the instrument engraved with the words: "For Wallace, on the occasion of our engagement. From Maria."

When Hartley's body was discovered 10 days after the accident, the violin was found in a leather bag strapped to his body.

"You can appreciate why he wanted to keep it with him," said Aldridge.

Canadian authorities returned the Titanic violin to Robinson who had it until her death in 1939. Her sister then donated it to a Salvation Army band, and then it eventually made its way to the current owner, an unnamed violin teacher who brought it to the auction house.

The Titanic violin will not be auctioned off any time soon, but Aldridge estimates its value to be at least six figures. "In my opinion, it's one of the most iconic pieces of memorabilia from the 20th century."

"We are in negotiations with several museums across the world," Aldridge added.

The violin will go on public display at the end of this month in Belfast, where the Titanic was built.

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