Pocket watch that stopped at the moment its owner went down with the Titanic is set to fetch £100,000 at auction
- Oscar Woody perished along with 1,520 others when the ship sank in April 1912
- Mr Woody’s body was recovered from the sea 10 days later with his possessions
- Among the personal items was his gold-plated Ingersoll watch and chain
- Imprint shows where minute hand was when it snapped off as ship sank
A pocket watch that stopped at the very moment its owner went down with the Titanic has surfaced for sale for a whopping £100,000.
Oscar Woody perished along with 1,520 others when the ill-fated ship struck an iceberg and sank in the Atlantic in 1912.
Mr Woody’s body was recovered from the sea 10 days later and all of his possessions were removed so they could be sent back to his family.
Among the personal items was his gold-plated Ingersoll watch and chain that was damaged as the disaster unfolded.
Its glass screen had smashed and its two hands snapped off. But an imprint showing where the minute hand had been pointing between four and five can clearly be seen.
This chimes with the time the Titanic sank at 21 minutes past two in the early hours of April 15, 1912.
Mr Woody served as the postmaster on the Titanic. As the liner started to sink he and four colleagues made a futile attempt to save hundreds of mailbags by carrying them to the upper decks.
A pocket watch that stopped at the very moment its owner went down with the Titanic has surfaced for sale for a whopping £100,000
The watch was later returned to Mr Woody’s widow, Leila. Years later passed it on to her late husband’s masonic lodge.
It now belongs to a private collector of Titanic memorabilia and is coming up for sale at Henry Aldridge and Son of Devizes, Wiltshire.
Oscar Woody perished along with 1,520 others when the ill-fated ship struck an iceberg and sank in the Atlantic in 1912
Andrew Aldridge said: ‘We are getting a considerable amount of interest in this item already.
‘This is probably one of the most iconic and important items of Titanic memorabilia offered for auction in recent years.
‘The watch is frozen in time capturing the moment Oscar went into the cold north Atlantic.
‘It must have suffered some sort of trauma in the sinking as the glass case was cracked.
‘This impact probably caused the two hands to break away, leaving the impression of the minute hand on the watch face.
‘It is a microcosm of time. When the watch died, so did the ship. It has signified the end of a life ever since.
‘What is also very interesting is that we have a precise timeline on where this watch has been from April 14, 1912, until now.
‘It has been exhibited in some of the most prestigious museums globally, including The Smithsonian Postal Museum, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California and Titanic Museum Attraction in Missouri.’
Mr Woody served as the postmaster on the Titanic. As the liner started to sink he and four colleagues made a futile attempt to save hundreds of mailbags by carrying them to the upper decks. Above: The Titanic is seen at Southampton on a postcard that another doomed passenger sent to his wife
Mr Woody, from Virginia, US, had been selected to take charge of the mail room for Titanic’s maiden voyage on April 10, 1912 after spending 15 years as a railroad mail clerk.
He was joined by William Gwinn, 36, from New York, John Marsh, from New Jersey, and Brits John ‘Jago’ Smith, 35, from St Keverne, Cornwall, and James Williamson, 35, from Dublin.
The men boarded the liner in Southampton on April 9 and were expected to sort through the 400,000 letters by the time it reached New York six days later.
On the evening of April 14 they took a break to celebrate Mr Woody’s 44th birthday when the liner struck an iceberg at about 11.40pm.
The men immediately returned to the mail storage room located in the forward hold in G deck to find it flooded in 2ft of freezing water.
For several hours they raced up four decks with as many of the 200 sacks of registered mail as they could carry.
They were last seen feverishly sloshing through the bitterly cold water, grimly focused on their hopeless task.
Oscar Woody was buried at sea with fellow passengers soon after his body was recovered. Above: The burial ceremony
Bedroom steward Alfred Thessinger, who was one of the last men to see them alive, later recalled: ‘I urged them to leave their work. They shook their heads and continued at their work.’
The three US clerk’s families received 2,000 dollars for their loss by their government.
It is not known if the Royal Mail made the same gesture to the two British clerks.
Mr Aldridge added: ‘Everyone knows the story of the band playing on and the brave engineers who worked to the last to keep the power going for the lights and the captain going down with the ship.
‘But the little known account of Oscar Woody and his men was another piece of heroism displayed on that night.
‘It was a completely futile exercise but that was the sort of men they were.
‘They were that dedicated to their job they didn’t think or care about saving their own lives, just saving the mail.’
His watch will be sold on Saturday.
The horrific 1912 Titanic tragedy
Constructed by Belfast-based shipbuilders Harland and Wolff between 1909 and 1912, the RMS Titanic was the largest ship afloat of her time.
Owned and operated by the White Star Line, the passenger vessel set sail on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on April 10, 1912.
The liner made two short stops en route to her planned Atlantic crossing — one at the French port of Cherbourg, the other at Cork Harbour, Ireland, where smaller vessels ferried passengers on and off board the Titanic.
Nearly five days into her voyage, the Titanic struck an iceberg at around 23:40 local time, generating six narrow openings in the vessel’s starboard hull, believed to have occurred as a result of the rivets in the hull snapping.
At just before midnight on April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg while travelling on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. Within three hours, the ‘unsinkable’ ship had slipped beneath the waves of the freezing Atlantic Ocean, killing more than 1,500 people
The Titanic took on water some fifteen times faster than could be pumped out, with the hull damage proving too extensive for the vessel’s watertight bulkheads to keep the flooding from spreading across the liner’s compartmentalised lower decks.
After around two-and-a-half hours, the vessel broke into two sections and sank, each settling to the seafloor around a third of a mile apart.
Around 1,500 people were believed lost in the tragedy, including around 815 of the liner’s passengers.
At its launch, the luxurious Titanic was the largest ship in the world, and was carrying some of the wealthiest people in the world, as well as hundreds of people from Britain, Ireland, and elsewhere who were seeking a new life in the United States.
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