(NEW YORK , LANKAPUVATH) –The last-known letter written on board by a passenger who perished when the Titanic sank – which contains the poignant prediction that “if all goes well we’ll arrive in New York on Wednesday” – has sold for a record-breaking £126,000 at auction.
The handwritten note on three pages of embossed White Star Line stationery was written by Alexander Oskar Holverson, a first-class passenger, to his mother the day before the liner struck an iceberg.
Holverson, a salesman, was one of more than 1,500 passengers and crew who died when the Titanic sank on 14 April 1912. His body was recovered from the Atlantic days later and his personal effects were sent back to his brother in Minnesota, US. These included a pocket notebook in which was folded the letter, which was heavily water-stained.
It was sold on Saturday in an auction of Titanic memorabilia at Henry Aldridge & Son in Devizes, Wiltshire, where the bidding went far beyond the estimated value of £80,000 to exceed the previous record for a Titanic letter of £119,000.
In the letter Holverson described the ship’s luxurious surroundings. “This boat is giant in size and fitted up like a palacial [sic] hotel. The food and music is excellent.” He also told his mother: “So far we have had very good weather. If all goes well we will arrive in New York on Wednesday A.M.”
Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said: “I’m delighted with the new world record for the Titanic letter. It reflects its status as the most important Titanic letter that we have ever auctioned.”
He said the letter was “exceptional on several levels including content, historical context and rarity”. Accompanying the Holverson letter was a sad note written be his grieving mother, Rachael, describing her loss and a photograph of Holverson and his wife Mary taken in New York before they embarked on a trip to Europe. Mary survived the disaster, which happened as she and her husband returned to the US.
The letter is the last-known letter written on board by a victim. Most Titanic letters that have appeared on the market had been posted in Cherbourg, France, or Queenstown, Ireland, the ship’s last port of call before the disaster.
Two years ago a letter written on 14 April 1912 by a passenger, Esther Hart, and her seven-year-old daughter, Eva, who survived the sinking, sold for a record £119,000.
Holverson’s father was Norwegian but had emigrated to America. He married an American woman with whom he had six children and lived in Rushford in Minnesota. Oskar Holverson became a salesman and moved to Boston, then New York. He married his wife in 1905 and the couple enjoyed a long holiday at the end of 1911 to South America and then on to Europe. They stayed in London in April 1912 and embarked in the Titanic for her maiden voyage to New York on 10 April.