Carpathia, rescuer of Titanic passengers, yields treasures for auction

China and binoculars are among the treasures recovered from the wreck of the Carpathia, torpedoed in World War I. Courtesy Ahlers & Ogletree’s auctions
China and binoculars are among the treasures recovered from the wreck of the Carpathia, torpedoed in World War I. Courtesy Ahlers & Ogletree’s auctions

Diving on a wreck in 500 feet of water is dangerous, said former French naval commander Paul Henri Nargeolet.

But he would rather salvage artifacts than dodge Manhattan taxis.

Nargeolet has done both (salvaged famous wrecks and dodged taxis). He’s best known for leading five expeditions to the wreck of the RMS Titanic. Nargeolet also retrieved artifacts from the steamship Carpathia, which rescued survivors of the Titanic in 1912.

Those artifacts, including a pair of binoculars and Cunard Steamship Company china, will go up for auction this weekend at Ahlers & Ogletree on Miami Circle.

In addition to the items from the Carpathia, sunk by German torpedoes in 1918, the auction offers an unusual collection of rarities, including a guitar played by B.B. King, a “shag bag” used by golfer Bobby Jones and artwork from the collection of Alabama pulp and paper magnate Jonathan Westervelt “Jack” Warner.

Nargeolet, 74, who served in the French Navy for 25 years, is responsible for recovering many of the thousands of items from the Titanic that became part of traveling exhibitions mounted by Atlanta company Premier Exhibitions.

Unlike the Titanic, he said, the wreck of the Carpathia was in terrible shape, damaged not just by torpedoes but by fishermen who trawled the area. “A wreck is very often a house for the fish,” he said, speaking from his Connecticut home.

In 2000 the wreck was discovered about 200 miles off the coast of France by novelist Clive Cussler and his nonprofit organization, NUMA. Nargeolet directed the salvage operation in 2007.

Some 94 lots of artifacts from the Carpathia will be up for auction Friday morning, including three telegraphs, glassware and portholes.

Other items among the 1,000 lots that will be auctioned Friday through Sunday:

B.B. King made the Gibson ES-355 famous as his preferred model, the guitar that he always called "Lucille." Ahlers & Ogletree’s auctions
B.B. King made the Gibson ES-355 famous as his preferred model, the guitar that he always called "Lucille." Ahlers & Ogletree’s auctions

B.B. King’s guitar

Auction house co-owner Robert Ahlers said the blues giant recorded a jingle for Toys R Us on this ebony Gibson semi-hollow body, one of many “Lucilles” that he has played, and at the end of the studio session, gave the guitar to a Toys R Us executive.

The guitar is signed by King and bears the “Lucille” inlay in the headstock.

Bobby Jones "shag bag" was used to gather up golf balls that he hit at the practice tee. Courtesy Ahlers & Ogletree’s auctions
Bobby Jones "shag bag" was used to gather up golf balls that he hit at the practice tee. Courtesy Ahlers & Ogletree’s auctions

Bobby Jones’ “shag bag”

Ahlers said in the spring of 1953 his client observed Jones hitting golf balls from the practice tee at a north Atlanta golf course. “Bob had his crutches leaning on a chair close to where I was standing. When he noticed me, he stopped, smiled, and greeted me by name,” wrote the client. Jones was already ailing from the spinal disorder that would take his life in 1971.

The client’s account continued:

After all were hit, the caddie gathered the balls into Bob’s shag bag, walked back to the tee, and handed the bag to Bob. I was astonished by what happened next: Bob turned to me, held out the full bag, and said, “I will not need this anymore. I want you to have it.”

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A landscape by Jasper F. Cropsey is among 100 lots of artwork and collectibles from the estate of Jonathan Westervelt "Jack" Warner up for auction this weekend. Courtesy: Ahlers & Ogletree’s auctions
A landscape by Jasper F. Cropsey is among 100 lots of artwork and collectibles from the estate of Jonathan Westervelt "Jack" Warner up for auction this weekend. Courtesy: Ahlers & Ogletree’s auctions

Items from the estate of Jonathan Westervelt “Jack” Warner

Jack Warner was a pulp and paper magnate from Tuscaloosa, Ala., who built one of the largest collections of American art in the country.

Some 100 lots of artwork and items from his estate will be up for auction this weekend, including a landscape by Jasper F. Cropsey.

EVENT PREVIEW

A Collector’s Dream Auction to Start 2021

Ahlers & Ogletree will auction more than 1,000 lots of art, antiques and collectibles through live, telephone and online bids.

Begins 10 a.m. Jan. 15-17; 700 Miami Circle, Atlanta. 404-869-2478, aandoauctions.com/en-US.

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