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The image, which sold for $22,000 at auction this week, was taken aboard a recovery vessel days after the famous ocean liner went down

Over a century after the Titanic hit its fateful iceberg, the ship remains a haunting symbol of human innovation, hubris and tragedy. This week, Henry Aldridge auction house in Devizes, Wiltshire sold an “extremely rare” black and white photograph of an iceberg—that some believe is the one that sank the Titanic—for £17,500 (about $22,000).

The Titanic struck its iceberg on April 14, 1912, resulting in approximately 1,522 deaths of the 2,240 passengers and crew onboard. A few days after the ocean liner sank, a recovery ship, the C.S. Mackay-Bennett, went to gather the bodies from the ocean. During the mission, someone onboard took a photograph of an iceberg.

On the ship was John R. Snow, Jr., whose family company was the largest undertaking firm in Nova Scotia. Snow played a large role in overseeing recovery efforts following the Titanic disaster.

The embalmers on the C.S. Mackay-Bennett recovered 306 bodies, but the ship only had 100 coffins onboard. Snow’s men placed 100 bodies in the caskets and wrapped an additional 90 corpses in canvas material. For the remaining 116 bodies, the men performed sea burials.

According to Artnet’s Verity Babbs, a vendor of Henry Aldridge acquired the five-by-three-inch photograph of the iceberg from Snow’s family in the 1990s. Thus, it is possible that John R. Snow, Jr. took the photograph himself.

The photograph was sold as part of Henry Aldridge’s Auction of Titanic, White Star and Transport Memorabilia sale on April 27. The auction house calls the photograph “extremely rare,” and the sale exceeded expectations, quadrupling the photographer's low estimate of £4,000 (about $5,000).
“Nobody can say for sure that this was the iceberg that sank the Titanic,” auctioneer Andrew Aldridge tells the Daily Mail’s Lettice Bromovsky. “But what we can say is that after the rescue ship Carpathia, the Mackay-Bennett was one of the first ships to reach the wreck site and that the undertaker on board decided to take a photo of this iceberg.”

During the sale, the auction house also sold big ticket items like a gold pocket watch with the initials of John Jacob Astor IV, the richest passenger on the Titanic. Astor’s watch sold for £1.175 million (roughly $1.4 million). The auction house also sold the violin case of the ship’s bandleader Wallace Hartley for £360,000 (about $450,000). The actual violin sold in 2013 for £1.1 million (about $1.7 million at the time). Hartley is famously depicted in James Cameron’s 1997 film, playing as the ship sinks.

The impressive numbers from the sale speak to the enduring legacy of the Titanic.

“Titanic is probably, next to Noah’s ark, history’s most famous ship,” Charles Haas, president of the Titanic International Society, tells the New York Times’ Derrick Bryson Taylor.

Source: Author Julia Binswanger