Lot 42: The Iceberg that Sunk Titanic
December 16, 2012
Amherst, NH, USALive Auction
Description: Amazing and extremely rare original 9.75 x 8 photo of a uniquely-shaped 'blueberg' photographed by the captain of the Leyland Line steamer S. S. Etonian two days before Titanic collided with it. The photo shows a massive iceberg with a very distinctive elliptical shape, and is captioned in black ink by the captain, "Copyright. Blueberg taken by Captain W. F. Wood S. S. Etonian on 12/4/12 in Lat 41° 50 W Long 49° 50 N. Titanic struck 14/4/12 and sank in three hours." A "blueberg," as indicated in Wood's caption, simply refers to the tinting of an iceberg from the sun's rays, much like the blue of the ocean. The photo is affixed to a 13 x 11 mount and is in fine condition. Frederick Fleet, the Titanic lookout on duty who first spotted the iceberg, and Joseph Scarrott, an able-bodied seaman, each drew sketches of the iceberg-sketches which appear eerily similar to the iceberg in this photo. Their drawings are reproduced on pages 140-141 of Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy (second edition, by John P. Eaton and Charles A. Haas, W. W. Norton & Company, 1995).Because there are, of course, no surviving photographs of the iceberg taken from Titanic's deck on that fateful night, several photographs of icebergs in the vicinity of the collision, taken before and after the event, have been offered throughout the years as candidates for the iceberg responsible for the disaster. In his book A Night to Remember (illustrated edition, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1976), Walter Lord reveals a photo of an iceberg taken from the German ship Prinz Adalbert, near the scene of the sinking on the afternoon of April 15, 1912, that closely matches the elliptical shape of Wood's photograph offered here, but with a slightly different shape attributable to the angle of the photographer and the aftermath of impact. The fact that the particular iceberg in the Etonian image offered here is known to have been photographed at a position arguably 2-3 days' iceberg travel time to Titanic's foundering position, and that it substantially matches both the sketches drawn by Titanic's crewmen and the photo taken after the ship went down, allows noted Titanic experts to establish this photograph as capturing the iceberg everyone has been talking about for the past century.Provenance: The Wonders Exhibition, 1997-98 Memphis, TN - St. Petersburg, FL; p.115 Titanic: The Exhibition (Lithograph Publishing Company, 1997).