At the time of her death she was known as the last remaining survivor of the Titanic who could remember the events of that fateful day in 1912. Lillian Asplund was five-years-old at the time and had refused to speak about the tragedy — in which she lost her father and three brothers — for the remaining 94 years of her life.
But on her death it emerged that she had saved a collection of items and documents recovered from the doomed maiden voyage of the ocean liner.
The collection is now expected to fetch up to the equivalent of 1.8 million kronor ($302,000) when it is put up for auction in the UK on April 19th. The items were found in an old shoe box in her home.
“The importance of this archive cannot be underestimated,” said Alan Aldridge when he spoke to The Local about the auction being held by the firm Henry Aldridge and Sons of Devizes, Wiltshire in England.
Among the items up for auction include her father’s pocket watch which stopped at 19 minutes past two – the exact time the liner sank.
Lillian Asplund’s father was recovered from the icy waters of the north Atlantic 12 days after the liner sank and thanks to his life jacket his breast pocket had been kept above the surface of the water. Inside his pocket were various documents including a very rare original ticket for the voyage from Southampton to New York.
There is also a hand written note copied from a brochure explaining what the “new world” had to offer. The note read:
“California wants people like you, now is your time to come here. We have green grass and wild flowers at this time of year and all the facilities you can have.”
The collection contains several letters including one from Lillian Asplund’s grief-stricken grandmother expressing a hope to meet her son again in heaven.
The collection of items have generated substantial interest among Titanic collectors as they piece together the story of a family from their decision to emigrate, the voyage, and the aftermath as the surviving Asplund family members sought to deal with the tragedy.
Lillian Asplund lived with her four brothers, Filip,13, Clarence, 9, Carl Edgar, 5 and Felix, 3, mother Selma and labourer father Carl, in Alsema in southern Sweden. The family decided to seek a new life in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1912. Seven third class tickets were bought and the family boarded the Titanic for its maiden voyage on April 10th 1912.
The collection will be auctioned on Saturday April 19th.
Click here to see more photos of Lillian Asplund’s Titanic treasures.