Hospital scan suggests Titanic violin is the real deal

A close-up of the violin.
A close-up of the violin.

The violin thought to have been played by the band leader of the Titanic as it sank has been declared genuine ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ following a hospital scan.

Violinist Wallace Hartley, who lived in Dewsbury, was the leader of the eight-piece band who supposedly sacrificed their own hopes of survival and played hymns in an attempt to calm passengers on the so-called ‘unsinkable ship’.

Examining a scan of the violin.

Examining a scan of the violin.

A plaque in honour of the 33-year-old is on the house in West Park Street where he lived as an adult, his family having moved to Dewsbury from Colne.

The violin has been at the centre of an authenticity debate for seven years.

In March auction house Henry Aldrige and Son declared the violin to be genuine, but said a CT scan was needed.

They approached radiographers at BMI Ridgeway Hospital in Wiltshire, who took a 3D image of the violin to examine it from the inside.

Astrid Little, imaging manager at the hospital, said: “A 3D image of the violin was created from the CT scan, meaning the violin could be examined from the inside. The scan revealed that the original wood was cracked and showed signs of possible restoration.

“The fine detail of the scan meant the auctioneers could examine the construction, interior and the glue holding the instrument together

Andrew Aldridge from auction house Henry Aldridge and Son said the scan proved the instrument was real ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.

Wallace Hartley’s body was recovered from the water about 10 days after the ship sank, but the violin was not listed among the inventory of items found with him.

But a diary entry by Wallace Hartley’s fiancé says it was saved from the water in 1912 and returned to her. Following Ms Robinson’s death in 1939, the violin was given to her local Salvation Army citadel and was later passed onto the current owner’s mother in the early 1940s.

It is claimed the violin survived in a leather case, strapped to Mr Hartley’s body, which floated upright in his cork and linen lifejacket.

Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said: “The violin was in a heavy duty leather Gladstone type bag, so the violin would have come into contact with water, but it would have been protected by the leather. The instrument is also held together with animal glue, which melts when it is hot, not when it is cold.

He added: “The silver fish plate on the violin along with some other items that was with it points to it being authentic – or an extremely elaborate hoax – so we needed to carry out thorough research and commission the correct experts. We’ve spent the last seven years gathering evidence and we’re confident that ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ this is Wallace Hartley’s violin.”

The violin – complete with its certificate of authenticity – is due to go on display in America this month and will eventually go to auction.

Click on the following link to see how the hospital verified the violin!