The instrument, which was discovered in an attic in North Yorkshire in 2006, was earlier this year verified by extensive research, including MRI scans, as that which second-class passenger Wallace Hartley played on Titanic’s fateful night of April 14th, 1912.
The violin, accompanied by a leather luggage case initialed W. H. H., will reside in the replica second-class accommodation suite in Titanic Belfast’s Fit-Out Gallery from September 18 until October 13, 2013. It is likely to be the final public display of the instrument before it goes to auction.
It was brought to public attention in 2011 and auctioned last year, during the 100th anniversary of Titanic’s maiden voyage.
The rosewood violin was given to the Lanchashire-born Mr Hartley as a gift from his fiancée Maria Robinson on the event of their engagement.
Regarded as a hero in Titanic’s enduring story, Hartley is credited with the decision to lead his eight-strong band into the historic hymn ‘Nearer, My God, to Thee’ in an attempt to calm passengers as they boarded lifeboats.
Having chosen to play on, all eight men perished in the disaster, and Hartley’s remains were recovered on April 29, 1912 by crew on the MacKay Bennett. His body was recorded as number 224.
The violin will arrive at Titanic Belfast from the United States, where a recent display in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, saw record numbers view it. Its arrival will commence Titanic Belfast’s autumn and winter campaigns, which will include an Alternative Festival and Mid-term Festival in October and a Festival of Family and Friends in November.
Titanic Belfast CEO Tim Husbands said: “We are honored and excited that Titanic Belfast has been chosen to display Wallace Hartley’s violin which he played on RMS Titanic.
“The violin was strapped to Wallace Hartley’s body when he was recovered, and it is a remarkable story that has brought it from the disaster scene to the birthplace of Titanic in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and to the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience.
“This could very well be a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity for visitors to see one of the world’s most famous and most valuable Titanic artifacts before it goes to auction.”
Andrew Aldridge, a Chartered Valuation Surveyor with Henry Aldridge and Son Auctioneer, said: “The Wallace Hartley Titanic violin is one of the most iconic collectables from the 20th century.
“Bandleader Hartley was an incredibly brave man whose actions helped to calm passengers during Titanic’s last hours. The authentication process behind the collection has been a long and exhaustive one with some of the world’s leading experts in their respective fields helping to assemble a conclusive package of independent reports to accompany the archive. The auction of the violin and associated items will be on October 19th in Devizes, Wiltshire.
“The violin has attracted interest from collectors all over the world especially after its recent successful three month exhibition in the United States where in excess of 100,000 enthusiasts viewed it.
“This is the last time the violin will be seen in public prior to returning to Devizes for auction viewing and sale.”