Lot 45: Titanic Grand Staircase
December 16, 2012
Amherst, NH, USALive Auction
Description: When the Titanic broke apart during the final stages of the sinking, she split in two in the area of the aft First Class Grand Staircase. While involved in the Titanic victim body recovery mission the Anglo American Cable Ship C.S. Minia recovered numerous sections of wreckage that were obviously once a part of the staircase. Newel posts, carved hand railing borders, and even two intact steps from the Grand Staircase were found floating in the open sea and were taken aboard by the sailors working on the Minia. Once plucked from the sea, the crewmen of the Minia set about turning these relics from the great ship into everyday useable objects such as cribbage boards, game tables, nightstands, and picture frames. This section of the Titanic's aft Grand Staircase, measuring 19 x 2.75, believed to have once been a part of a step or a step back panel was recovered by the Minia and turned by the ship's carpenter William Parker into a picture frame which he crafted for the Minia's Chief Officer, James Adams. Incorporated into this unique picture frame were intricate carved balustrade sections from beneath the handrail, cut brass brackets originally part of the decorative brass strip which ran across the entire front of each Grand Staircase step lip, and hardwood lengths such as this example which Parker used for the back of the Adams Titanic picture frame project. For years following the disaster in 1912 and following the tragic death of Adams in a train/vehicle collision this picture frame remained in the family eventually passing into the hands of Gerald T. Mullin, the grandson of James Adams. In the 1990's the picture frame was publicly displayed as part of a special Titanic exhibition presented by the Vancouver Maritime Museum in Vancouver British Columbia, Canada. In July of 1998 Gerald T. Mullin of Victoria, British Columbia, sold the frame, two document boxes made from Titanic wreck wood, a number plaque from a Titanic stateroom door, and a liquor cabinet made from the wooden wreckage of Titanic's wheelhouse door. Involved in this transaction was noted Titanic historian and collector Steve Santini. In August of 1998 the picture frame was dismantled by master woodworker William Ricks of Brandon, Manitoba. (See included pictures recording the frame being disassembled).Included with this lot is a signed letter of provenance from noted Titanic collector, researcher, and historian Steve Santini outlining the history of the Parker/Adams picture frame, copies of photographs showing the frame in its original state as displayed at The Vancouver Maritime Museum and during the process of it being disassembled, a copy of the original 1998 artifact release document signed by Gerald T. Mullin and Steve Santini, and photocopies of a Minia crew sign on sheet which Adams signed as well as a photo of James Adams and of the cable ship Minia.