Titanic’s Treasures Captivate Collectors, but They’ll Need Deep Pockets

Tony Probst’s passion for the Titanic is unwavering.

Since the mid-1990s, he has amassed hundreds of artifacts from the ship’s maiden voyage in 1912, including a lifeboat plaque, china, sheet music and an array of personal documents.

“I believe I’m the only person on planet Earth who has every piece of paper for one individual to get on board Titanic,” Mr. Probst, 64, said proudly this week.

His collection is sometimes on display at the audio and visual store he runs with his sons in the Bay Area of California, but it has also toured prominent spaces, including the National Geographic Museum in Washington; the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif.; and the Titanic museums in Branson, Mo., and Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

Mr. Probst’s enthusiasm for the Titanic — which puts him somewhere between a collector and historian, he said — makes him part of a small but zealous community seeking out memorabilia from the ship, which sank after striking an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean, killing 1,500 people.

Tony Probst in his home with a ticket for Hilda Maria Hellstrom, a passenger on the Titanic.Credit…Ingrid Probst

Henry Aldridge & Son Ltd, an auction house in southwest England, will host an auction on Saturday of Titanic and other shipping and transport memorabilia. Among the more than 250 items for sale is a black-and-white photograph of an iceberg taken by a member of a body recovery ship after the disaster and the violin case of the bandleader Wallace Hartley, which is expected to fetch up to 120,000 pounds, or about $150,000. (The violin sold in 2013 for £1.1 million, or about $1.3 million.)

Back to top button