A TITANIC survivor’s relative has spoken of her amazement after a postcard sent from the doomed ocean liner by her grandfather sold for a record-breaking £87,000.
Sue Stares, from Swanage, travelled to Devizes, where the sale of the rare, second-class breakfast menu smashed the previous £74,000 Titanic menu record.
This menu, that doubled up as a postcard, was sent by her grandfather Jacob Gibbons, when the ‘unsinkable’ ship docked at Queenstown, Ireland, before steaming into the Atlantic Ocean on its ill-fated maiden voyage.
Days later, on April 15, 1912, more than 1,500 people died after the New York-bound liner struck an iceberg and sunk.
The postcard, sent by the second class saloon steward to a family friend in Studland, is one of only a handful of menus to have survived the maritime disaster.
Sue told the Daily Echo: “My grandfather was saved but his wife, my grandmother, was initially sent a telegram informing her he had died.”
This message was quickly followed up by another official telegram confirming Jacob had, indeed, been rescued.
“A few days later my grandmother received a third telegram, this time from my grandfather who was in New York.
“It simply stated ‘SAFE, STOP. WELL, STOP, DADDY, STOP.’ Mr Gibbons, from Studland, went onto have nine grandchildren and lived until the age of 89.
Sue explained the postcard had been handed down to the niece of its recipient, then became part of a house clearance when the niece died.
It was first auctioned for £8,000 in 2002. Then, when Sue learned it was set for auction again, last month, she went along – where it was purchased for the record sum by a collector from London.
She said: “I felt quite sad at the auction really, because I’m not sure where it has gone now. Obviously, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to buy it, but if I did own it, I would never sell it.
“My grandfather was a wonderful man, but he never really spoke to me about his experience on the Titanic.
“I know soon afterwards that he wrote something for one of the newspapers. He wrote it was an awful experience and that he’d never forget the cries of the people drowning.”
Jacob was rescued in Lifeboat 11.