Titanic Relics To Be Exhibited and Auctioned Off By Private Collector

titanic-museum-bransonMissouri has long been a mecca for Titanic historians, both amateur and expert. The famous museum there features artifacts, special exhibits and a variety of original information about the ill-fated ocean liner, which struck an iceberg and sank in the early-morning hours of April 15th, 1912. Now there is a new Titanic exhibit less than two hours away from the Branson Titanic Museum, in Joplin, MO. This new attraction, which will only run for a short time, is being offered by a private collector who will then raffle off some of the items for a good cause, making the trip from Branson well worth it if you are planning a visit for early April, 2019.

1.  A Collection Like No Other In the World

IsmaycartoonThe new Titanic exhibit, which is now on display at the Joplin History and Mineral Museum, features artifacts collected by the gallery’s president, John Shirley. Shirley hopes to educate the public about the ship and its rich history, which has always been a source of interest for people all over the globe. Perhaps it is the beauty of the ship itself and the stories of the human condition that resulted from the sinking, in which 1,503 people lost their lives. Some of the survivors’ names have gone down in history as well, including socialite Molly Brown and the often-reviled Bruce Ismay, one of the original designers of the ship, who abandoned Titanic during the sinking and who was largely blamed for the disaster by the the American and English Titanic inquiries. Ismay became a recluse, and disappeared from public life after the disaster.

This display, which will include about 50 items from Shirley’s private collection, has never been seen before. Some items are directly from the ship itself, including a vial of preserved rusticles that were taken from the wreckage. These formations are appearing all over the ship as it is reclaimed by the North Atlantic, where Titanic lies in pieces. Some experts believe that these rusticles, which contain bacteria that are consuming the remains of the ship, will devour it completely over the next few decades.

2.  Documenting History of the World’s Worst Maritime Disaster

One of the most fascinating pieces in Shirley’s collection is a record of the ship’s Irish workers, many of whom worked in the bowels of the ship to stoke its massive engines with coal. These boards do not contain names; instead, they feature the shipbuilder’s emblem and the serial number assigned to each worker. At the start of the day on board, the ship’s timekeeper would note which employees would show up and record the hours worked. These boards were also how workers obtained the tools they needed to perform their daily tasks, which makes these artifacts so unlike any others that have been on display at past exhibits.

titanic-new-movie-Titanic-wreckShirley says these boards are an important artifact for understanding the shipbuilding and seafaring industry and that he tried to assign names to the serial numbers to discover their identities. Sadly, however, the Titanic Museum in Dublin informed Shirley that most of the workers’ records had been lost or destroyed, so the numbers are all that remain.

Survivors are also being documented in Shirley’s collection, including Millvina Dean, who was the last survivor of the Titanic tragedy to pass away. Dean had no memories of the actual sinking, as she was only two months old when she and her family boarded the ship, but she did have many memories of her mother’s own recollections. Dean died in May of 1999 and is memorialized in a portrait that is featured in Shirley’s collection.

3.  Amazing Auction Opportunities for Titanic Historians

MillvinaDeanShirley’s exhibit, which runs through April 20th, will also feature a few raffle items that he hopes will raise money for the museum. For fans of James Cameron’s Titanic film, an autographed cast photo will be up for grabs, which is sure to grace any film buff or autograph hunter’s collection. Shirley will also be raffling off a photo of the ship as it looks today, along with a piece of wood, coal and a rusticle that came directly from the wreckage. The winners of these items will be announced at the close of the exhibit.

If you want to add a bit of panache to your visit, you can attend a reception at the museum on the final day of the exhibit, April 20th, from 3-5 p.m. You will have the chance to mingle with other guests and learn more about the museum and its president’s dedication to the memory of the Ship of Dreams.