A Titanic survivor’s walking stick, with an electric light she used to signal for help from a lifeboat, sold for $62,500 at an auction of maritime items, the auction house said Monday.
Guernsey’s held the sale at the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport, Rhode Island, on Friday and Saturday. The top bid on Ella White’s cane was $50,000, plus the surcharge added by the auction house, Guernsey’s President Arlan Ettinger said.
Ettinger had expected it to sell for far more, with a pre-auction estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. He described it as one of the most extraordinary items to have survived the sinking.
The walking stick was consigned to Guernsey’s by the Williams family in Milford, Connecticut.
Some family members contested the sale. The relatives agreed before the auction on how to split the proceeds and the issue was resolved, but the dispute may have made potential bidders nervous, Ettinger said.
The winning bidder said he was there on behalf of a friend in the United Kingdom, Ettinger added.
In Walter Lord’s book about the Titanic and in investigative hearings after its 1912 sinking, it was noted that White appointed herself as a signalman for lifeboat 8, waving her walking stick about.
Brad Williams said his grandmother was White’s niece and cared for her affairs before she died in 1942 at age 85, and then took possession of the walking stick. It was passed on to Williams’ mother, then to him, Williams added.
Jennifer McDermott, The Associated Press