October 19, 2013 - 19:45 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The violin that was apparently played to calm passengers on the Titanic as the giant liner sank has sold for £900,000 at auction in Wiltshire, BBC News reports.
It was played by band leader Wallace Hartley, who died along with 1,517 others as the ship went down. It had a guide price of £300,000.
Other items up for sale included his sheet music and the bag he kept it in.
Auctioneer Alan Aldridge said the violin was the "rarest and most iconic" piece of Titanic memorabilia.
Hartley has become part of the ship's legend after leading his fellow musicians in playing as the vessel sank, most famously the hymn Nearer My God To Thee. It had taken seven years for the Devizes auction house, Henry Aldridge & Son, to authenticate the instrument using several experts. These included forensic science experts who said the wood still contained salt deposits from the sea water.
Some people still doubt whether the violin is the genuine article and believe it could not have survived being submerged in the sea.
But it is claimed the violin survived in a leather case strapped to Harley's body who was found wearing his cork and linen lifejacket.
A diary entry by his fiancee, Maria Robinson, said it was saved from the water and returned to her.Following her death in 1939, the violin was given to her local Salvation Army citadel and was later passed on to the current anonymous owner's mother in the early 1940s.
The auction house said it had attracted interest from collectors all over the world and added that more than 315,000 people viewed it during a three-month exhibition in the United States.
The most money previously paid for a piece of Titanic memorabilia is thought to have been a plan of the ship - used in the 1912 inquiry into the sinking - which was bought by a private collector at auction for £220,000 in 2011.