Titanic ‘pantryman’ key recovered from the body of a 1st class sedan steward will sell for more than $100,000 at auction in Boston after being cherished by his family for four generations
- A key belonging to a first-class pantryman who died after the sinking of the Titanic is being auctioned this weekend in Boston
The master key belonging to one of the “supply men” aboard the Titanic is expected to fetch at least $100,000 when it is auctioned in Boston on Saturday.
The key was discovered on the body of 1st Class Steward Alfred Arnold Deeble. His body was found by the cable-laying ship Mackay-Bennett which had recovered many of the bodies from the 1912 disaster. Deeble found herself on an iceberg in the aftermath of the sinking.
From there his body was transferred to Nova Scotia. Later, his US-based sister, Lily, wrote to White Star Line in Southampton to ask if his belongings could be returned to her. Among those possessions was the master key.
Statement from RR Auction on the main observations regarding its descent, in that it was passed down through the same family for four generations and its validity ‘has been scrupulously documented by the Provincial Secretary of Nova Scotia.’
“This key, used on the Titanic, has been cherished by the family for four generations and comes with a detailed statement of provenance, providing insight into the family’s ownership history and genealogy,” the statement added.
A key belonging to a first-class pantryman who died after the sinking of the Titanic is being auctioned this weekend in Boston
The key was found on the body of 1st Class Alfred Arnold Deeble. His body was found by the cable-laying ship Mackay-Bennett which had recovered many of the bodies from the 1912 disaster
Records show Deeble, aged 29 at the time of the tragedy, boarded the ship in Belfast. In his role he would have been paid around £3.6 a month, which is the equivalent of around $220 today.
The food and beverage team that Deeble was part of was known as the Virtualization Department.
He was born in Clerkenwell, 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 eldest and was born in 1876.
Deeble joined the Royal Navy in 1900, lied about his age and served on HMS Brilliant. He also served with the Duke of Wellington before requesting to be landed.
Deeble was described as 6 feet tall, with dark brown hair, gray eyes and a dark complexion. He signed up to work on the Titanic on April 4, 1912, while living in Southampton at the time. Before working on the Titanic, Deeble worked on the Olympia liner.
After his death, Deeble, who was unmarried, left his estate of £175 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 copper plate with the inscription Pantryman attached to it with a copper plate.
Included in the sale are photographs of Alfred Arnold Deeble, along with his family.
Online bids are already starting to filter through and the live auction will take place on September 23.