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Safe, Satchel From Titanic Yield Money and Jewelry

October 29, 1987|Associated Press

PARIS — A safe and a satchel raised from the wreck of the Titanic were opened on live television Wednesday, yielding soggy bank notes, coins and jewelry, including a gold pendant with a small diamond and the inscription, "May This Be Your Lucky Star."

The two objects were taken out of a large debris field left between the two pieces of the severed ship, which sank 75 years ago and still lies at the bottom of the Atlantic.

More than 1,500 people died in the icy waters of the North Atlantic after the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank on April 15, 1912, on what was intended to be its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York.

Safe Contains Coins

A purser's safe brought up from the wreck last summer contained an assortment of gold-colored British coins, whose value was estimated by an expert at about $5,000.

The leather satchel was opened to reveal jewelry, a watch, wads of American currency and an object--possibly a stickpin case--with the initials "R.L.B." It apparently belonged to Richard L. Beckwith, a first-class passenger who escaped the sinking ship on a lifeboat with his wife.

The satchel also contained the inscribed pendant and a bracelet with the name "Amy" written in tiny diamonds.

The currency was said to be in excellent condition, although it looked soggy and muddy. "I should recognize the Yankee dollar when I see it, but I don't," said the show's host, actor Telly Savalas.

The artifacts were scooped from the floor of the Atlantic by an expedition to the sunken luxury liner and shown on a live segment of a two-hour broadcast.

Inside the studio, heavily armed guards watched the artifacts, insured for $10 million, while the black-tie audience of scientists and investors watched the production.

The program also dealt with a theory that a fire in the Titanic's hold played a role in its sinking.

Expedition organizers said physical evidence recovered in the dive shows that a coal fire softened the hull. When the ship hit an iceberg, it indented the ship, causing an explosion that blasted outward through the hull, they theorized.

A fire in the bin had been reported when the voyage started.

The show, carried by 155 stations in the United States, also was broadcast in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Hong Kong, Italy and Peru. It was not carried in France because French stations had gone off the air, but it will be shown there later.

The wreck was discovered in September, 1985.

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