Living in the Herefordshire market town of Ledbury, George Leadbetter was one such enthusiast. He constructed a crystal receiver in 1910 with the aid of his son Walter who made the oak case.
On the night of April 15, 1912, the Leadbetters reportedly heard the SOS distress signal from RMS Titanic on this device.
The story goes that George raced to the local police station with the news but none of the officers on duty believed him.
The set was last sold at auction in 1966 when it was purchased by the Ledbury antiques dealer Bill Price and later bought by the vendor in the 1990s. Offered as part of the Maritime sale at Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood (25% buyer’s premium) in Exeter on June 20, it found a new owner online at £6000 (estimate £6000-8000).
Another device with a Titanic link was offered by London auctioneer Charles Miller (24% buyer’s premium) as part of the Maritime and Scientific Models, Instruments & Art auction on April 25.
This was a marine master clock by Magneta Co, Zurich, c.1907, as supplied to the White Star Line Olympic class liners and Cunard’s two ‘Atlantic greyhounds’, the Mauretania and Lusitania. Housed in a 2ft 2in (67cm) wide oak case, a massive electromagnetic drive mechanism could operate up to 24 ‘slaves’ situated around the ship.
There were two aboard Titanic, allowing for 48 clocks used in both passenger and crew accommodation, including the bridge and engine room and from which all the vessels’ official timings were logged.
This rare survivor was probably acquired at the dispersal sales of either Mauretania or Olympic. Estimated at £3000-5000, it took £7000.