Items from famous ocean liner built in Belfast up for auction

Items relating to the launch of the RMS Olympic more than 100 years ago are to go under the hammer next week.

Monday, 19th April 2021, 2:13 pm
Updated Monday, 19th April 2021, 2:14 pm
A sepia photo of the RMS Olympia launch

The ship, built at Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast and launched on October 20, 1910, was at one time the largest ocean liner in the world, and sister ship to the ill-fated Titanic and Britannic liners.

Charles Miller Ltd in London will be holding the auction next Tuesday for a collection of slides used to train the crew and a rare set of photographs of the launch.

The magic lantern slides show the construction, principal passenger saloons and the accommodation on the RMS Olympic and are expected to fetch £1,500-2,000.

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A slide from the private collection

The photographs of the launch in Belfast carry at estimate of £250-350. The small number of portable cameras around at that time adds to the scarcity of these images.

Charles Miller said the items came from two elderly clients who are clearing out some of the collections.

He said: “They’ve come to us because we specialise in maritime bits and pieces.

“There’s been a lot of people twiddling their thumbs during this pandemic and having a jolly good sort out.”

He said the slides could be used without a magic lantern viewer but should the buyer possess such an item they could be projected onto a wall in their home.

“Each slide is three inches square. They came out of the previous estate of a naval instructor who used them in his lectures.

“We think they would have been used to explain to new crew exactly how the new ship worked and to help answer the endless questions from passengers who would have undoubtedly been in awe of the vessel.

“They’re not negatives, you can hold them up to the light. You could hang them up in a window to display them although a cheap magic lantern is only 50 odd quid. It’s quite fun if you recommission one of those you can project them onto a white wall.

“If you wish to do so you can expand them to the size of your living room wall – the resolution is extremely good.”

The slides are expected to fetch upwards of £1,500 while the photographs could go for around £250.

Charles said: “At that time photography as a hobby was nascent, people were just getting their box Browny cameras going.

“These photographs were all taken at the launch, the negatives were lost 110 years ago, so these are the only ones surviving from this particular view, and therefore these are unique sepia-toned images.

He said they vary in size from five by six to nine by 11 inches.

The live online auction takes place on Tuesday, April 27 at 10am.

More details can be found at

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