A BUSINESSMAN hopes to pocket a ‘Titanic’ £2m by breaking up and selling a tiny but precious piece of the famous liner’s hull.
Mark Manning, of Parkland Drive, Elton, aims to cash in on Titanic mania after acquiring one of the rarest pieces of metal on earth for just £12,000.
The fragment was a scientific sample from the larger of only two known segments of the hull salvaged from the wreck in 1998 and formed part of the ship adjoining cabins C79 and C81.
Those large sections, known as the ‘big piece’, weighing 20 tons, and the ‘little piece’, weighing two tons, will go under the hammer in New York next Wednesday – 100 years and a day after she set sail on her ill-fated voyage.
The pieces of hull are among 5,000 artefacts, which by law must be sold as one lot, estimated to be worth a total of £122m in 2007.
Mark, 48, who runs a Birkenhead-based goldsmiths, is ideally seeking a buyer who will purchase the artefact intact but the alternative is to break it up into 1,000 pieces and sell each for £2,000 in a presentation frame.
“I will sell it to the highest bidder,” said Mark. “Or I can get a guy to cut it into just over 1,000 pieces and I can sell them for £2,000 a time, if you do the maths, 1,000 x £2,000 = £2m.”
Mark, a collector by nature who has the scripts of Superman III, keeps the hull fragment in a vault nowadays, but recalled: “When I first got it, I took it home to show the missus – we’ve got a downstairs toilet – I put it down there and it must have been there four weeks and I forgot about it. A piece of the Titanic in your toilet!”
Mark has also acquired other Titanic memorabilia, including a wooden segment of the grand staircase from first class, a lump of coal from the boiler room and a fragment of a discarded off cut of carpet fitted in the liner.
He acquired his collection, including the hull part, from civil servant Michael Jones, of Port Sunlight, who developed an interest in all things Titanic after inheriting a piece of the grand staircase from the first class section from his great uncle, Alfred Augustus Jones.
Alfred served in the Great War with a soldier who had worked on the cable ship Minia sent to bring back bodies of Titanic victims after the disaster from where he gathered the staircase piece.
They became friends and at the end of the war, as they parted, the soldier gave the piece to Alfred.
The section of staircase was eventually passed down to Michael, who, on hearing of the expedition to retrieve the Titanic hull, entered into correspondence with George Tulloch, President of RMS Titanic Inc who had the rights to the wreck and artefacts.
So impressed was he with Michael’s passion and enthusiasm for the ship that over the years Mr Tulloch, now deceased, gifted him, first a lump of coal from the ship found scattered on the ocean floor, then the piece of hull.
Michael separately acquired other artefacts to enhance his collection which he then sold to Mark.