Titanic ‘pantryman’ key recovered from the body of 1st class saloon steward is set to sell for more than $100,000 at Boston auction after being cherished by his family for four generations
- A key belonging to a 1st class pantryman who died following the sinking of the Titanic is going up for auction in Boston this weekend
The master key belonging to one of the ‘pantrymen’ on board the Titanic is expected to fetch at least $100,000 when it goes up for auction in Boston on Saturday.
The key was discovered on the body of 1st class steward Alfred Arnold Deeble, which was found by the Mackay-Bennett cable-laying ship that recovered many of the bodies from the 1912 disaster.
Deeble was located on an iceberg in the aftermath of the sinking.
From there, his body was taken to be buried in Nova Scotia. Later, his US-based sister, Lily, wrote to White Star Line in Southampton to ask for his belongings to be returned to her, among those belongings was the master key.
RR Auction’s statement on the key remarks on its lineage in that it was passed through the same family for four generations and that its validity is ‘meticulously documented by the Provincial Secretary of Nova Scotia.’
‘This key, used on the Titanic, has been cherished by the family for four generations, and a detailed provenance statement accompanies it, providing insight into its ownership history and the family’s genealogy,’ the statement adds.
A key belonging to a 1st class pantryman who died following the sinking of the Titanic is going up for auction in Boston this weekend
The key was found on the body of 1st class steward Alfred Arnold Deeble
Records show that Deeble, 29 at the time of the tragedy, boarded the ship in Belfast. In his role, he would have been paid around £3.60 per month
Records show that Deeble, 29 at the time of the tragedy, boarded the ship in Belfast. In his role, he would have been paid around £3.60 per month, which is the equivalent to around $220 today.
The food and beverage team that Deeble was a part of were known as the Virtualizing Department.
He was born in Clerkenwell in London in 1877 and baptized at St. Mary’s Church in Islington. His parents married a year before his birth and had six other children. His sister, Lily, was the oldest, having been born in 1876.
Deeble joined the Royal Navy in 1900, lying about his age, and served on the HMS Brilliant. He also served on the Duke of Wellington before requesting to be put ashore.
Deeble was described as being 5-foot-5 with dark brown hair, grey eyes and a dark complexion. He signed up to work on the Titanic on April 4, 1912, living in Southampton at the time. Prior to working on the Titanic, Deeble had been working on the Olympia liner.
Following his death, Deeble who was unmarried, left his £175 estate to his younger brother Charles.
The key suffered some saltwater damage. It measures 3.7 inches and is marked with the number 103 on its head. There is a two inch brass plate with the inscription Pantryman that is attached to it.
Included in the sale will be photographs of Deeble, along with his family.
Online bids have already begun to filter through with the live auction set to being on September 23.