Rare Marconi parcel label which never reached RMS Titanic expected to realize $20k later this month
A rare and previously undiscovered parcel label which was set to be delivered on board the iconic ocean liner RMS Titanic will be offered at a Mossgreen Auctions’ sale with an estimate of £12,000 (more than $20,000 Cdn.) later this month.
On Nov. 29-30, Lot 1115 of Mossgreen’s Stamps and Postal History auction will cross the block with an opening bid of $15,000 Cdn. Bought by a collector in England that initially had no idea of its remarkable historical significance, the label is addressed to “Marconi Operator/RMS Titanic/co The White Star Line/Southampton”. It’s suggested on arrival at Southampton, the packet was handed to the first officer of Titanic’s sister-ship, the Olympic, with the intention it would then be delivered to the Titanic upon its arrival New York. It’s believed the packet contained blank telegraph forms to restock the wireless room.
INFAMOUS MAIDEN VOYAGE
The largest passenger liner in service at the time, the RMS Titanic was said to be unsinkable; however, on its maiden voyage in April 1912, it collided with an iceberg and sunk to the sea floor with the tragic loss of 1,500 lives.
This surviving label is a complete “Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Co/… Chelmsford” parcel label measuring 150 x 95mm with private “PARCEL POST” and “11APR1912” stamped by hand in violet. A British King Edward VII six-pence stamp is cancelled by the “CHELMSFORD”-in-bars parcels cancel. There’s also a part-strike of the large-boxed “PARCEL [Coat of Arms] CHELMSFORD/…”. A date stamp on the left confirms the postage cost of “6[d]”.
It is believed the label has been with the family to whom it was given in 1912 by the First Officer of the Olympic. It will be offered with a piece of unused headed notepaper with embossed “On board RMS Oceanic”, plus two small original photographs, one captioned “Wireless/Apparatus” and the other “Alec Bagot/Marconi Operator/on RMS Olympic”.
Mossgreen Director of Stamps and Postal History Gary Watson said the label is the “most evocative and most important postal item associated with the most famous of maritime disasters.”
MARITIME DISASTER MAIL
In their authoritative 2003 book, Maritime Disaster Mail, Norman Hoggarth and Robin Gwynn said: “The only surviving items with postal associations are in the class of fascinating ephemera … several postmarked facing slips used by OS Woody, one of three American postal clerks on the Royal Mail ship … There are [also two recorded] surviving articles posted on ‘Titanic’ & taken off the ship [at Southampton] before the trans-Atlantic portion of its journey. And there exist a letter & a postcard written but not posted on board by two survivors.”
About a dozen of the postal slips, of which several are in institutions, are known to exist. An example owned by major shipwreck collector John Woolfe sold at auction in 2006 for £6,240. Another example – with minor stains – had previously sold at auction in 2002 for £11,760.
This is the first time this rare and historically important item has been offered at auction.