I have decided to jump on the Titanic bandwagon; but for good reason. You see, I enjoy collecting antique books that were printed in response to national disasters. A bit macabre, I know…but such a wonderful glimpse into attitudes (and sensationalism) of specific time periods.
I own one such book that was printed immediately following the sinking of the Titanic. There were many tell-all versions published after the sinking. Mine claims to be the “only authoritative book.” In honor of the Titanic centennial, I have to share it with you.
My book is called The Sinking of the Titanic and Great Sea Disasters: Thrilling Stories of Survivors with Photographs & Sketches. It was published in 1912 by L.T. Myers. Unfortunately, a previous owner covered the book with a clear adhesive that I cannot remove. As a result, acid is eating away at the fabric and illustration on the book cover. It makes me sad to watch the book slowly decompose over time. It’s interesting, though, that the book decay parallels the actual disintegration of the ship wrecked at the bottom of the ocean.
The book begins with a political cartoon – a pithy jab at the numerous luxuries and lack of lifeboats on board the ship. One wonders what an uproar this would have caused while the pain of the incident was still fresh. The cartoon also singles out a few rich men who died on the maiden voyage.
Content-wise, the rest of the book is divided into ship amenities, notable passengers, a summary of the disaster, firsthand accounts, and several criticisms (especially toward Mr. Ismay and men who cut into the “women and children first” lifeboat lines).
One of my favorite things about old books is the evidence of past owners. This book is no exception (well, besides that awful adhesive cover). On page 75, someone had left a money order application from February of 1915, right under the subsection of “Men Shot Down.”
As always, thanks for reading!