Anyone visiting London in 1912 was sure to visit Cleopatra’s Needle located on the Embankment of the River Thames. Second-class passenger Edgar Samuel Andrew was no exception. This postcard of Cleopatra’s Needle was found in his suitcase recovered from Titanic’s wreck site.
The granite pillar was one of two made for Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III (c 1479-1425 BC) and were placed flanking the gateway of the Temple of Ra in Heliopolis. Having been moved and re-used over time, the two inscribed monuments finally ended up in Alexandria.
In 1819, the Ottoman Governor of Egypt and Sudan, Muhammad Ali gave the monument to Britain. It wasn’t until 1877 that a British citizen obtained public support and funding to bring the monument to London. In October of 1877, it was transported in a custom-made cylindrical barge and towed to London. Caught in a storm near the Bay of Biscay, six volunteers attempted to stabilize the barge but died in their attempt and the barge was lost. It was spotted a few days later, bobbing along freely and was towed to shore. It wasn’t until January 1878 that Cleopatra’s Needle arrived in London. Eight months later, it was finally installed on the Embankment where it has remained for over a hundred years.
Given this incredible story, it is hardly surprising that young Andrew wanted to have a keepsake of this London site.