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Home > History & Science > What sank with the Titanic?

When the opulent passenger liner RMS Titanic was built in 1912, it was declared by Shipbuilder magazine to be "practically unsinkable." Unfortunately, the word practically turned out to be key. On theTitanic's maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City, it hit an iceberg and sank in just three hours. Of the 2,229 passengers and crew onboard, only 713 survived. The ship has been a source of fascination ever since, partly because of the many stories associated with its sinking, but also because of the huge wealth that went down with the ship and remains on the ocean floor to this day. Here are some of the people and cargo that were onboard that fateful day.


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1) John Jacob Astor IV

While travelling around the world, Madeleine, John Jacob Astor’s wife, became pregnant, and wanting the child born in the United States, the Astors boarded the RMS Titanic as first-class passengers in Cherbourg, France together with Colonel Astor's valet Victor Robbins, Madeleine's maid Rosalie Bidois and nurse Caroline Louise Endres. They also took their pet Airedale named Kitty. He was the wealthiest passenger on board the Titanic. He assisted his pregnant wife, Madeleine, onto a lifeboat but was not allowed to board himself because officers were applying the principle of "women and children first." Madeleine survived, but John went down with the ship. Astor was seen on the starboard wing bridge. But his whereabouts after that are unknown. His body was later recovered by the steamer Mackay-Bennett on April 22 not far from the sinking. Reports persist that his body was recovered in a mangled state, but all who examined his body stated that it was in perfect condition with no bruising.

John Jacob Astor IV

2) First-ever onboard heated swimming pool

The Titanic had one of the first swimming pools ever seen on an ocean liner, this feature was unique to the Titanic and her sister ship the 'Olympic'. The Swimming Bath (also known as a pool) was located on the starboard side of F - Deck, just forward of the Turkish Bath (a type of sauna). The pool itself extended down to the G - Deck. The Swimming Bath was small, and reserved for First-Class passengers. The pool (along with the Turkish Bath) were reserved for the women from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and for the men from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets were available at the Inquiry Office on C - Deck for $1 or 4 shillings. The Swimming Bath was open for male First-Class passengers free of charge from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. The heated salt water pool was six feet deep.

titanic onboard swimming pool
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3) The Rubaiyat

Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering the wealth of many of its passengers, the Titanic was carrying a number of works of art, all of which were lost when the ship sank. The most spectacular of these was a jeweled copy of The Rubaiyat, a collection of about 1,000 poems by the 11th-century Persian mathematician and astronomer Omar Khayyam. The binding of this incredibly luxurious book contained 1,500 precious stones, each set in gold. It had been sold at auction in March 1912 to an American bidder for £405 or around $1,900 -- 15 years worth of wages for a junior crew member on the Titanic.

The Rubaiyat
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4) Benjamin Guggenheim

Guggenheim boarded the RMS Titanic and was accompanied by his mistress, a French singer named Madame Léontine Aubart, his valet, Victor Giglio, his chauffeur, René Pernot, and Madame Aubart's maid, Emma Sägesser. His ticket was number 17593 and it cost just over £79. After the ship struck the fateful iceberg, and realizing that the situation was much more serious than he had first thought, as well as realizing he was not going to be rescued, he returned to his cabin with Giglio and the two men changed into evening wear. He was later heard to remark, "We've dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen." He also gave a survivor a message saying, "If anything should happen to me, tell my wife I've done my best in doing my duty." Guggenheim, his valet Victor Giglio, and his chauffeur René Pernot were lost in the disaster. Their bodies, if recovered, were never identified.

Benjamin Guggenheim

5) Marconi wireless radio station

The wireless operators John George Phillips and his assistant Harold Bride weren't employed by the White Star Line, but rather by the 'Marconi Wireless Company'. Ship to shore wireless transmissions was in its infancy and was viewed as more of a convenience rather than a means of an integral part of the ships command. The operators were under the command of Captain E.J. Smith, but only as far as receiving and transmitting messages of importance of the ship. Their main job was tending to the passengers telegrams while at sea. The ships weather reports and ship to ship telegrams came second as they weren't paying customers. It cost passengers to send a wireless telegram: 12 shillings and sixpence/$3.12 ($36 today), for the first 10 words, and 9 pence per word thereafter. Passenger telegrams sent and received during the voyage: over 250. The wireless room was located on the Boat - Deck.

titanic Marconi wireless radio station

The unsung heroes of the voyage were the crew of the Titanic, which had around 900 members, of whom only 215 survived. These staff included the deck crew (responsible for sailing the ship), the engineering department (who kept the engines running), the victualing department (responsible for passenger comfort), restaurant staff, and musicians. As the ship was sinking, its two bands came together on the deck and played to keep the spirits of the passengers up. None of the band members survived.

titanic crew

The restaurants, cafes, kitchens, and bedrooms of the Titanic required so much linen that White Star Line built a large laundry close to the docks at Southampton, so that each time the ship docked, the dirty linen could quickly be unloaded and cleaned for the next voyage. The 200,000 individual items (not including items belonging to passengers) included 18,000 bedsheets, 6,000 tablecloths, 36,000 towels, and 45,000 table napkins.

titanic linen
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One important function of the Titanic was to carry transatlantic mail. When the ship sank, there were 3,364 bags of mail and between 700 and 800 parcels onboard, contents unknown. Other cargo claimed as lost included 50 cases of toothpaste, a cask of china headed for Tiffany's, five grand pianos, and 30 cases of golf clubs and tennis rackets for A.G. Spalding. However, contrary to popular myth, the Titanic was not carrying an ancient Egyptian mummy that was believed to have cursed the ship.

Titanic mail bags
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Passengers needed something to wash down all their food, so the Titanic carried 15,000 bottles of ale and stout, 1,000 bottles of wine, and 850 bottles of spirits, plus 1,200 bottles of soft drinks and mixers, such as lemonade, tonic water, and orange juice.

titanic drink
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10) Tableware

Serving all that food and drink required 57,600 items of crockery, 29,000 pieces of glassware, and 44,000 pieces of cutlery. The cutlery alone would have weighed more than 4,000 pounds -- about the weight of four cows.

titanic tableware
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