Incredibly, the actual violin played on the deck of the sinking Titanic has been proven to have survived the disaster. Its place in history is inarguable:
"The eight musicians gallantly performed on the chilly boat deck of the Titanic while the passengers lined up for the lifeboats.
"The band carried on until the bitter end, famously playing a final hymm of 'Nearer, My God, To Thee.'
"Hartley, and the other seven band members, perished along with 1,500 passengers and crew when the luxurious vessel sank at 2.20am on April 15.
"After his body was recovered by the ship the Mackay Bennett 10 days later, the violin wasn't listed by officials among the inventory of items found in his possession.
"A newspaper report later stated that Hartley was found fully dressed and with the instrument strapped to his body.
"The conflicting accounts gave way to the theory that either the violin simply floated off in the Atlantic or was stolen by somebody involved with handling the bodies."
As it turned out, the instrument was, indeed, recovered at the time of the wreck, was sent to the owner's fiancée, and was later donated to the Salvation Army upon her death from cancer. One of the organization's members kept it until her death. Her heirs are about to auction it for what is expected to be close to a million dollars.
As incredible as the fact that it exists is the chain of facts that have been unearthed to verify its provenance. I wonder how many other items are kicking around this world with incredible histories, but are worthless because their provenance is non-existent?