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RMS Titanic artifact surfaces: Gold cigarette case ‘with a hint of scandal’

RMS Titanic artifact surfaces: Gold cigarette case ‘with a hint of scandal’

A storied gold cigarette case that once belonged to a controversial wealthy couple that survived the Titanic disaster is up for auction.

RMS Titanic, White Star Line

Lifeboat deck RMS Titanic.

The extremely rare artifact, which belonged to Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff-Gordon, comes “with a hint of scandal,” according to Hansons Auctioneers.

RMS Titanic, White Star Line, Lucy Duff Gordon, Cosmo Duff Gordon

Clockwise: The inquiry; cigarette case; and a faded photo of the lifeboat occupants. Left to Right, Standing: George Symonds, Laura Francatelli, Lucy Duff Gordon, Cosmo Duff Gordon, Abraham Salomon, Charles Hendrickson, Henry Stengel. Left to right Seated: Robert Pusey, Edward Horswell, Samuel Collins, James Taylor, Frederick Sheath.

The Duff-Gordons were accused of bribing their way off the doomed liner, although the allegation was never proven.

RMS Titanic, White Star Line, Lucy Duff Gordon, Cosmo Duff Gordon

Clockwise: RMS Titanic; Captain Smith; Smoking Room; Deck.

Titanic hit an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. ship’s time on April 14, 1912, and sank just over two hours later with the loss of more than 1,500 lives.

TITANIC TREASURES SOLD AT UK AUCTION

“This cigarette case in its own right is a wonderful object but its provenance sends its importance soaring to titanic heights,” said Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, in a statement. “The sinking of the Titanic has fascinated the world for more than 100 years and such was the Duff-Gordons’ impact on events their roles are played in 1997 movie ‘Titanic’.”

RMS Titanic, White Star Line, Lucy Duff Gordon, Cosmo Duff Gordon

Clockwise: Cabin; Passengers boarding; Ship’s Officers; Magazine photos.

A prominent landowner and highly accomplished fencer, Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon, his fashion designer wife, and her secretary, were among 12 people who escaped the sinking ship on Titanic’s Lifeboat Number 1.

RMS Titanic, White Star Line, Lucy Duff Gordon, Cosmo Duff Gordon

Clockwise: 2nd Class Dinner Menu; First Class Menu; Ship’s Ballroom; Loading ship.

The lifeboat, which was dubbed the “millionaires’ boat,” by the British press, had a capacity of 40 people. In addition to the Duff-Gordons and Lady Duff-Gordon’s secretary, two other First Class passengers were aboard Lifeboat Number 1. The remaining seven people on the lifeboat were members of Titanic’s crew.

RMS Titanic, White Star Line, Lucy Duff Gordon, Cosmo Duff Gordon

Clockwise: Swimming Pool; Lounge; First Class Cabin; Elevators; First Class Cabin.

“As the Titanic sank, it was claimed Lucy Duff-Gordon said to her secretary, ‘There is your beautiful nightdress gone’,” Hanson said. “A fireman, allegedly annoyed by her comment, replied that while the couple could replace their property, he and the other crew members had lost everything. Sir Cosmo then offered each of the men £5 (equivalent to £454 [$579]) to aid them.”

DID THIS ICEBERG SINK THE TITANIC?

The wealthy landowner kept his promise when they reached the rescue ship RMS Carpathia, according to Encyclopedia Titanica.

RMS Titanic, White Star Line, Lucy Duff Gordon, Cosmo Duff Gordon

Clockwise: First Class Dining Room; Aft Deck; Crew; Third Class Passengers.

“In the aftermath of the tragedy, the couple was accused of buying their way off the boat, a story inflamed by the tabloid press. But at a British Board of Trade inquiry into the disaster, where the couple testified, Sir Cosmo was adamant he’d given the money as a gesture of goodwill to help the men. However, mud sticks and they were tainted by the incident for the rest of their lives,” Hanson added.

RMS Titanic, White Star Line, Lucy Duff Gordon, Cosmo Duff Gordon

News reports; ship’s orchestra; survival photos.

On board the Carpathia, the Duff-Gordons were helped by the ship’s purser Ernest Brown, who was later awarded a medal for his crucial role in the Titanic rescue operation.

TITANIC TREASURES SOLD AT UK AUCTION

In appreciation of Brown’s kindness toward them, the Duff-Gordons gave him the Asprey gold cigarette case. The case is inscribed with the message: “Ernest G F Brown RNR, in remembrance of kindness. SS Carpathia. From Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff-Gordon.” On the front, features the initials “EB.”

RMS Titanic, White Star Line, Lucy Duff Gordon, Cosmo Duff Gordon

Second Class Boarding; First Class Menu; Newspaper accounts of sinking.

The cigarette case, which will be sold at Hanson’s on Sept. 28, has a pre-sale estimate of $51,073 to $76,609.

In 2016, the sextant used by Carpathia’s captain sold for just under $97,000. Three photos and a handwritten note detailing the grisly discovery of Titanic’s last lifeboat were sold for $6,800.

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