Rare Titanic parcel label a first time auction item
Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 25th November, 2016
A rare and previously undiscovered parcel label set to be delivered on board the infamous ocean liner Titanic but arriving after it sailed will be offered for the first time as part of the forthcoming Mossgreen Stamps & Postal History auction from noon Monday November 28 and continuing from 10am the following day at 926-930 High Street, Armadale.
Bought by a collector in England, who 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 is probable that, on arrival in Southampton, the packet was handed to the first officer of Titanic’s sister ship, the Olympic, so it would then be delivered to the Titanic on its arrival in New York.
Titanic, the largest passenger liner in service at the time, was said to be unsinkable.
However, on its maiden voyage in April 1912 it collided with an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean and sunk with the tragic loss of 1500 lives.
It is believed the label has been with the family to whom it was given in 1912 by the first officer of the Olympic.
Mossgreen’s director of stamps & postal history Gary Watson believes the parcel label is the most evocative and important postal item associated with the most famous of maritime disasters – about which several films have been made including the 1997 blockbuster version starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.
In their authoritative work, "Maritime Disaster Mail" (2003), Norman Hoggarth and Robin Gwynn state "...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 are known, of which several are in institutions. An example owned by major shipwreck collector John Woolfe sold at auction in 2006 for £6,240. Another example with minor stains sold at auction in 2002 for £11,760.