HK$1.5m paid for letter written on Titanic hours before it sank
Associated Press in London
A letter written by a passenger on the Titanic describing the "wonderful passage" - hours before the ship hit an iceberg - has sold at auction for £119,000 (HK$1.55 million).
Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said the handwritten note, which had belonged to a collector, was bought by an anonymous overseas telephone bidder during a sale in Devizes, western England.
The price, which includes a fee known as the buyer's premium, topped the pre-sale estimate of £100,000.
Aldridge said the price reflected "the exceptional quality and rarity" of the letter.
The letter was written by second-class passenger Esther Hart on April 14, 1912.
"The sailors say we have had a wonderful passage up to now," she said of the ship's journey from England towards New York.
Her seven-year-old daughter Eva added a postscript: "Heaps of love and kisses to all from Eva."
Hours later the ship described as "practically unsinkable" hit an iceberg and sank, killing more than 1,500 people including Hart's husband, Benjamin.
The letter, on White Star Line note paper, was tucked inside the pocket of a sheepskin coat Benjamin Hart gave Esther as he put his wife and daughter in a lifeboat. The family had been travelling from England to Canada, where they planned to settle. Esther and Eva were rescued, along with some 700 others.
Esther died in 1928. Eva, who died in 1996, was a prominent Titanic survivor, critical of attempts to salvage the ship, which she considered a mass grave.