2:19pm

Thu December 29, 2011
The Two-Way

Titanic Artifacts To Be Auctioned

Originally published on Thu December 29, 2011 1:02 pm

The largest collection of items retrieved from the sunken Titanic liner will be auctioned next April. These include fine china, money, jewelry, playing cards, parts of the ship's hull, even perfume bottles belonging to a merchant who was aboard the ill-fated luxury liner. The auction's results will be announced April 15th: the 100th anniversary of the ship's sinking.

Don't reach for your pocketbook, because there's a big condition that might make you think twice about bidding. All of the material must be sold together as a single offering, according to AP, and it's not cheap. The combined worth of the 5,500 items is estimated at $189 million dollars.

This is in keeping with an agreement between the U.S. government and RMS Titanic, the salvage subsidiary of the company that has title to the material. The most recent court ruling on Titanic artifact ownership says the items must be kept intact and preserved, according to the Virginian-Pilot.

These were brought ashore during seven complex dives conducted between 1987 and 2004. RMS Titanic features many of them in exhibitions spread among several cities, including Las Vegas, Edmonton, Alberta and Singapore. Last year, the company returned to the wreckage to film new images of the so-called "unsinkable" ship, which foundered on its first voyage. Here's the compelling interactive site.

The Titanic sank in 1912 after striking an iceberg, causing the deaths of about 1,550 of its passengers and crew, as the Encyclopedia Britannica reminds us.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.