Relic hunter Martin Roberts will find out this week whether his latest discovery – a hitherto unknown picture of Titanic band leader Wallace Hartley – will sell at auction.
Martin, 53, from Leeds, chanced upon the black and white image after buying items from a house clearance in Harrogate.
As reported previously by the Yorkshire Evening Post, he was about to sell the picture for 50p at a car boot sale until he realised its significance.
Martin said: “I bought the picture as part of a collection for £55 from a house clearance in Harrogate. There were about five boxes of pictures and this was in amongst them. I didn’t even know what it was and I was at Clithero car boot sale about a year ago and I had it on the table for £1, until this lady came up to me and asked what I was doing with a picture of Wallace Hartley. I didn’t even know who he was.”
Martin may not have known of the infamous band-leader, who instructed his musicians to play on even as the Titanic sank but he sensed enough to remove the picture from sale in order to research it further.
“She wasn’t the only one to comment on it, so I knew there was something about it. I did some research and I found that Hartley was involved with a lady called Marie Robinson, who came from Boston Spa.
“He had himself lived in Harrogate and when he died, some of his belongings went with her and she moved to Bridlington. When she died of cancer in 1939, they went to her sister, who still lived in Harrogate.
“I bought the pictures from a house clearance in Harrogate and it is my belief these pictures were part of a collection which included the Hartley picture. Buyers will make their own minds up about the picture, of course, but there are some things on there which lend credence to the notion that this is Wallace Hartley – he has a pinky ring, which he was known to have worn, the clothing and furniture are of the period and he looked like him.”
Previously, Martin has discovered numerous valuable items in charity shops and at car boot sales. He recently sold a pair of binoculars he bought for £20 for £1,100 and several years ago sold an Egyptian fertility statue he picked up for nothing for over £30,000.
The Dublin auction will take place on November 10.