Archive Pertaining to the Doomed Ocean Liner Titanic to be Sold at Auction

This letter, handwritten on Titanic stationery and dated April 10, 1912 (five days before the sinking), will be among the items up for bid in a three-day auction facilitated by Phillip Weiss Auctions.

OCEANSIDE, N.Y. – A historically significant, museum-quality archive of material pertaining to the doomed ocean liner the RMS Titanic, which comes directly from one of the survivers, will be offered on the first day of a three-day multi-estate sale planned for Oct. 21-23 by Philip Weiss Auctions. The event will be held in the firm’s gallery facility, located at #1 Neil Court in Oceanside, N.Y., starting at 4 p.m. (EST).

“It’s rare when anything Titanic-related comes on the market, and when it does it’s often a minor item,” said Philip Weiss of Philip Weiss Auctions, “but this is an incredible archive that came to us directly from a descendant of John and Nelle Pillsbury Snyder, who were rescued when the Titanic sank on the morning of April 15, 1912. This is sure to generate great interest.”

John and Nelle Pillsbury Snyder, survivors of the Titanic disaster, whose archive will be sold.

Included in the archive is a letter written on Titanic stationery (and dated April 10, five days before the sinking); another letter, dated April 18, that talks about the confusion from news sources and the White Star Line (which built the Titanic) at the time of the sinking; and original photos taken from the rescue ship the Carpathia, showing lifeboats headed towards survivors.

Also included will be a group of possibly the only photos in existence of the steamship Californian, shown sailing toward the Carpathia in a belated rescue effort. An inquiry at the time revealed the Californian was actually closer to the Titanic than the Carpathia, and even saw the rocket flares indicating a ship in distress, but for a variety of reasons it was slow to respond.

The archive will also boast a wealth of newspaper clippings from the time, numerous family mementos, Titanic history and collectibles. The Oct. 21 session will also have a unique Mexican War/Civil War trunk belonging to Maj. William Schoonover, of the 176th PA Infantry, complete with identified daguerreotypes, books, photos and other items kept by his descendants.

Also offered will be a rare World War II German SS Totenkopf H. Himmler honor ring, engraved and dated (Sept. 11, 1941), with a certificate of authenticity; and important percussion pistols and shotguns, including a pair of unfired John Dickson dueling/target pistols made in Scotland in 1897 and once belonging to the eccentric British firearms collector Charles Gordon.

Rounding out the Oct. 21 will be a collection of Smith & Wesson handguns (three are still in their original Gutta Percha cases); an original 1948 Harry S. Truman Press Club award; maritime and nautical material from the Bushnell estate; World War I and World War II helmets, goggles and posters and other lots pertaining to transportation, aviation, maritime and militaria.

Photos taken from the rescue ship Carpathia, showing lifeboats headed toward Titanic survivors.

Sandwich day—Saturday, Oct. 22, starting at 10 a.m. —will feature sports items, stamps and coins, rare books, autographs and maps. Highlights will include a trove of 1930s and ’40s baseball and non-sports cards, jockey Willie Shoemaker’s first signed contract as an apprentice, a single-signed Roberto Clemente baseball; and a baseball signed by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

Other sports-related offerings will include a contemporary Yankee Stadium painting by William Feldman; David Cone’s 1988 New York Mets All-Star Game-worn jersey and pants; an 1879 baseball ticket from the Duquesne Baseball Club; a 1948 Olympic torch; and other items.

Stamps will include Part 5 of the Great Lakes Collection, plus many additions from other prominent estates. Coins will feature a single-owner estate collection of ancient gold and silver coins. Rare books will include a copy of “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson, with an original drawing by N.C. Wyeth. Also sold will be a copy of Playboy #1, with Marilyn Monroe.

The final day of the auction—Sunday, Oct. 23, also with a 10 a.m. start time—will feature toys, toy trains, toy soldiers, pressed steel trucks, vintage dolls and more. Offered will be Part 2 of a single-owner Courtenay and Greenhill toy soldier collection; Britains examples; a collection of German composition toy soldiers and accessories (to include Lineol and Elastolin); and more.

Trains and accessories will include examples by Lionel, American Flyer, Marklin, MTH and brass HO engines from the Lawrence Kozsey estate. Part 2 of a single-owner pressed steel truck collection will include pieces by Smith Miller, Tonka, Nylint, Buddy L and more. And a collection of mechanical banks will feature Punch & Judy, Speaking Dog and Eagle & Eaglets.

Fans of Disneyana will be treated to early Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse cloth dolls, a rare long-billed Donald Duck band leader, and other Dinsey-related toys and collectibles. Dolls and bears will feature wonderful examples by Steiff, Heubach, Gebruder, SFBJ, Shirley Temple, Madame Alexander and others. Also offered will be tin lithos, wind-ups and other vintage toys.

Rounding out the final day of the sale will be a great collection of Little Lulu and Tubby dolls and collectibles, to include a Cowgirl by Georgene Novelties, Little Lulu with Purse and a Dancing Knickerbocker doll. Also sold will be rare Saturday Evening Post premiums and more.

Online bidding for all sales will be facilitated by Proxibid. Previews will be held during the week leading up to the three-day auction (or by appointment), as well as the morning of the date of sale for all auction dates.

For more information about this auction, call 516.594.0731, e-mail to or visit the Philip Weiss Auctions website.


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