Much like viewers marveled at Titanic’s luxury and magnificence prior to its sinking, many people today find just as much splendor in the discoveries surrounding the ‘Ship of Dreams.’ From artifacts, to pieces of the Ship itself, each discovery brings new insight into the passengers on board and the stories some never lived to tell.

After years of combing the deep sea, researchers finally discovered Titanic’s wreck site on September 1, 1985 approximately 13.2 miles from the last known but inaccurate position transmitted by the Ship’s crew as it was sinking. Two years later, in 1987 recovery of artifacts from the site commenced, and thus began the legalities of the rights to the wreck site which would later be granted to RMS Titanic, Inc. Since 1987, eight research expeditions have recovered over 5,500 artifacts from the Ship’s wreck site, conserved and put on display at Exhibitions around the world to share the stories of those on board in memoriam. 

The largest artifact to be recovered from Titanic’s wreck site is currently on display at Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. Weighing approximately 15 tons, the “Big Piece” is a section of the starboard side of the Ship’s hull that was recovered during the 1998 expedition. The 26 by 12 ft. artifact contains portholes from C Deck, in particular, cabins C-79 and C-81. Both of these cabins were unoccupied, but were in close proximity to the cabins of W.T. Stead (one of the most famous journalists in England during that time), and Henry B. Harris (a New York producer) and his wife, Irene. Mrs. Harris survived the sinking, but her husband and Mr. Stead did not.

A more recent discovery surfaced after being lost for over half a century. From first-class notables to members of the crew, many have honored those whose lives were lost as Titanic sank over 101 years ago by sharing their stories. A story that resonates is that of the eight brave musicians who played until the Ship sank, calming those on board with the sounds of popular and classical songs as well as hymns like ‘Nearer, My God, to Thee.’

To honor Titanic’s musicians, the Musical Mutual Protective Union (MMPU) in New York City appointed a committee to organize a concert aiding the families of the bandsmen on Titanic. As funds were raised, a plan was originated to create a more permanent tribute to the orchestra’s heroism - a bronze tablet designed by German sculptor, Albert Weinert. The plaque was completed in October 1912, and later unveiled in a ceremony at MMPU’s headquarters on November 3, 1912.

Over time, the plaque was moved from its original location to a ball room in New York City, and eventually removed during renovations of that space. As the MMPU had disbanded years ago there was only one known photograph and no owner to contact, the plaque was thought to be lost. It wasn’t until Doug Turner, a resident of Naples, FL, discovered it in a scrap yard. Turner bought the plaque for $2 per pound, saving it from being melted down. It was in his research that he connected with Charles A. Haas and John P. Eaton, of theTitanic International Society, and discovered the plaque had a historical background directly associated withTitanic.

Turner, with the support of  Haas and Eaton, partnered with Premier Exhibitions, Inc. and Titanic The Experience in Orlando, FL to hold a special rededication ceremony unveiling the plaque just as it was done nearly 101 years ago – including the use of the British and American flags and the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra playing ‘Nearer, My God, to Thee.’ This newly discovered historical plaque will be on display at Titanic The Experience in Orlando, FL for at least six months, once again providing a tangible tribute to honor and remember the brave men of Titanic’s orchestra.

Whether large or small, each discovery surrounding Titanic always cultivates a wide range of fascination and interest, and with every new discovery comes a new insight into one of history’s most recognized ship wrecks. These discoveries contribute to the never-ending legacy of those whose lives were lost at sea, the heroes surrounding that tragic event, and to all of their descendants living today.

Join P H Nargeolet on 09/01/2013 from 2-3pm ET on Twitter Chat to commerorate the discovery of the wreck site of Titanic
Follow us on Twitter: @RMS_Titanic_Inc and join the conversation using the hashtag #TitanicDiscovery