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Raise the Titanic

The discovery of a cover from France to Washington, which was marked for transmission by the ill-fated RMS Titanic, has created an immense stir on both sides of the Atlantic. Intended for despatch on the original maiden voyage, which had been scheduled for 20 March 1912, it was sent across the Atlantic by another ship when the Titanic's maiden voyage was postponed until 10 April. It is only the third of these Titanic cacheted covers ever to come to light and one of these is in the Manitoba Titanic Museum, Canada.

Philatelic mementoes posted on board the Titanic are understandably also of the utmost rarity and consist of a handful of covers and cards which were dropped off at Cherbourg or Queenstown (now Cobh, Ireland), after the liner left Southampton but before she set out on her date with the iceberg.

Most of us therefore have to settle for the stamps and souvenir sheets that have appeared in recent years. Great Britain featured the Titanic on a 60p stamp honouring Guglielmo Marconi in 1995, with the distress signal SOS, which was first used at that time. In 1997 St Vincent produced a miniature sheet containing a strip of five stamps that showed the great liner sinking.

However this theme did not really take off until the following year when the release of the latest Hollywood blockbuster devoted to the subject won no fewer than 11 Oscars.

There have been stamps from Palau and Guyana showing the discovery of the wreck, 70 years after the event, and a six-country omnibus which portrayed the heroes and the villains of the epic as well as the glitz and the glamour of the world's most luxurious ship of her day. Ireland even produced a miniature sheet reproducing a sepia postcard of 1912 published at the time of her maiden voyage. Other stamps show some of the poignant relics salvaged from the wreck.

The most recent sheetlets show a view of the ship in photomosaics - thousands of tiny photographs which form an overall impression. Clearly this is a subject that is destined to run and run.






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