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Chessboard made from actual wood retrieved from wreckage of the Titanic in 1912 brings $16,385 at auction

  • LYNBROOK, New York
  • /
  • August 12, 2014

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This chessboard was made by a man who was on the ship sent to retrieve bodies from the Titanic when it sank in April 1912.
Philip Weiss Auctions

LYNBROOK, N.Y. – A chessboard made from actual wood retrieved from the wreckage of the legendary ocean liner RMS Titanic sold for $16,385 at an auction held July 23rd by Philip Weiss Auctions, in the firm’s gallery located at 74 Merrick Road in Lynbrook. The chessboard was the top earner in an auction that saw around 700 lots change hands and grossed $200,000.

The chessboard was crafted by William Parker, a carpenter aboard the Minia, one of the ships that was sent out to recover bodies from the doomed Titanic, which went down after striking an iceberg in April 1912. Parker retrieved wooden debris as well as victims, and he used the wood to fashion several pieces, including the 18 inch by 18 inch mahogany, oak and pine chessboard.

For years, the chessboard was displayed at the Manitoba Museum of the Titanic in Canada. It came with a provenance report dated 2001 and prepared by Steven Smith, historian curator of Titanic Concepts, Inc. Along with ocean liner memorabilia, the auction also featured historical items, militaria, vintage posters, rare books, rock ‘n’ roll and aviation collectibles and more.

About 60 people attended the auction live, while 700 or so others registered to bid online, via Proxibid.com and Invaluable.com. Many phone and absentee bids were also recorded. Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices include a 13 percent buyer’s premium.

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The second top lot was a block of 15 unused tickets to the Beatles’ last concert performance in the United States, at Candlestick Park in San Francisco in 1966. The consignor was someone who dated a relative of Tom Donahue, the show’s producer. He gave the tickets away, as the show did not sell out. Donhaue’s business card was included in the lot, which sold for $12,000.

A portfolio by Walter Schnackenberg titled Ballett und Pantomime, designed by Schnackenberg, published by Georg Muller Verlag and printed in Munich, Germany, with 15 of the volume’s 22 plates depicting ballet figures and costumes, one of 850, brought $3,450; and a first-edition copy of Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, author signed and inscribed, realized $3,220.

A Civil War grouping pertaining to Company E, 15th Regiment, the New Jersey Volunteers, sold for $2,825. The archive, originally gathered by Union Capt. John H. Vandeveer, included an 8 inch by 9 inch photo of the unit in the field at rest, with each member identified below the image, and Vandeveer’s Tiffany sword and scabbard. Vandeveer died from battle wounds in Sept. 1864.

An original British World War I poster titled God Save the King, produced in 1915 by England’s Publicity Department, measuring 19 ¼ inches by 29 ¼ inches, changed hands for $1,185. The poster showed a dirigible in the night sky over London, illuminated by a searchlight. The piece, produced by Andrew Reid & Co., Ltd., had some tears and creases at the bottom edge repaired.

A rare photo by the celebrated 19th century American photographer Mathew Brady (1822-1896), showing the renowned hot air balloon builder Thaddeus S. C. Lowe (1832-1913), pointing to a balloon being inflated, hammered for $1,450. The photo, 8 inches by 3 ¾ inches, had only minor spotting. Otherwise it was a wonderful image by the greatest of all the Civil War photographers.

An archive of material pertaining to the English children’s book illustrator and writer Kate Greenaway (born Catherine Greenaway, 1846-1901), collected between 1883 and 1887 and including almanacs, calendars and a nice handwritten note, all housed in a custom binder, rose to $1,920. Her first book Under the Window (1879), a volume of children’s verses, was a bestseller.

Other auction highlights included an original photo of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor shown in Nassau, the Bahamas, signed by both and measuring 10 ½ inches by 13 ½ inches, taken by Turgeon Studio ($2,035); and a scarce travel poster promoting New York City by Ragan, Leslie, 41 inches by 27 inches, with some fraying along the edges but with fresh, white paper ($3,050).

Philip Weiss Auctions will take August off to rest and re-group, but they’ll be back in September with two auctions. The first, on Wednesday, Sept. 10 (at 1 p.m.) will be an estate sale featuring paintings, pottery, porcelain, perfume bottles, bronzes and more. Then, on Tuesday, Sept. 30 (also at 1 p.m.), an auction packed with sports, comics, comic art and animation art will be held.

The Sept. 30 event promises to be a blockbuster. Already consigned are an original hand-colored Krazy Kat daily strip by Herriman (presented to the artist Lee Falk), original Don Larsen cartoon art, The Far Side daily strips, a LeRoy Neiman watercolor cartoon illustration, a John Dempsey original cartoon illustration, and two complete original comic art stories from Shazam #9 (1974).

Animation lots sold on Sept. 30 will feature production cels, serigraphs, limited-editions and more. Comics will include examples from the Silver Age, the Golden Age and more. More than 600 lots will cross the auction block. Watch the Philip Weiss Auctions website as September approaches, for lot photos and more details. The website address is www.WeissAuctions.com.

Philip Weiss Auctions is always accepting quality consignments for future auctions. To consign a single item, an estate or a collection, you may call them at (516) 594-0731; or, you can send an e-mail to Philip Weiss at Phil@WeissAuctions.com. For more information about Philip Weiss Auctions and the upcoming auctions starting in September, log on to www.WeissAuctions.com.

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Philip Weiss Auctions
74 Merrick Road
Lynbrook, New York
phil@weissauctions.com
(516) 594-0731
http://www.weissauctions.com

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