THE sextant Sir Arthur Rostron used to set a course to the site of the disaster is to go under the hammer.
The navigation instrument, owned by the family of the famous captain of RMS Carpathia, is expected to fetch up to £50,000 when it is sold by Henry Aldridge & Son, a leading auctioneer of Titanic memorabilia.
Sir Arthur’s prompt response to the sinking of Titanic in April 1912 is widely credited with saving more than 700 lives.
Sextants were used to measure the angle between a celestial object and the horizon and were an essential part of navigation at sea at the time.
The polished brass instrument up for sale on April 23 was acquired by Arthur Rostron while serving as a cadet at the Merchant Navy Cadet School HMS Conway in 1883 and was used throughout his career.
It is presented in its original mahogany box with brass label “A.H. Rostron Conway”. Rostron wrote his own name on the retailer’s label inside.
The sextant itself is of polished brass form with its original fittings and is engraved A.H. Rostron RNR.
His great-granddaughter, Janet Rostron, said: “The sextant has never been on public display before and has been kept within the Rostron family, passed down from father to son for the last 104 years.
“The sextant would have been used by him throughout his career and would certainly have been the instrument he used to navigate through the ice floes.
“Once Sir Arthur retired, the sextant was passed on to his son Harry and then on to my father.”
Andrew Aldridge, from auctioneers Henry Aldridge & Son in Devizes, Wiltshire, said: “This is without doubt one of the most important pieces of Titanic memorabilia due to the integral part Sir Arthur played in the rescue of the surviving 705 men, women and children.
“The sextant is without doubt a truly unique part of the Titanic story and is estimated to sell for between £40,000 and £50,000.
“It represents a unique chance for either a museum or collector to bid on an item of this calibre and is a true once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The sextant was originally put up for sale in 2012 but did not sell and remained within the Rostron family.