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60,000 GBP
100,000 - 150,000 GBP
Live auction
Lot closed
Lot location
Devizes, Wiltshire

John Jacob Astor IV (July 13, 1864 – April 15, 1912) was an American business magnate, real estate developer, investor, writer, Lieutenant Colonel in the Spanish–American War, and a prominent member of the Astor family. He died in the sinking of the Titanic during the early hours of April 15, 1912. Astor is well known as the richest passenger aboard the R.M.S. Titanic and was thought to be among the richest people in the world at that time, with a net worth of roughly $87 million (equivalent to several billion dollars today). His business interests, which were mostly real estate, included the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. At the age of 47, Astor married 18–year–old Madeleine Talmadge Force on September 11, 1911 in his mother's ballroom at Beechwood, the family's Newport, Rhode Island home. He had been divorced two years earlier, and Madeleine was a year younger than Astor's son, Vincent. The couple took an extended honeymoon in Europe and Egypt to wait for the scandalous gossip to calm down. Among the few Americans of the socialite class who did not spurn him at this time was Margaret Brown, better known to posterity as "The Unsinkable Molly Brown". She accompanied the Astors to Egypt and France and, by coincidence, was called home to the U.S. at the same time the Astors also found it necessary to curtail their touring.

At 11:40 P.M. on April 14, 1912 the Titanic hit an iceberg and started to take on water. At first, Astor did not believe the ship was in any serious danger but later it was apparent she was sinking and the captain had started an evacuation after midnight, so he helped his wife into lifeboat 4. He asked if he could join his wife, mentioning her "delicate condition", but the officer in charge told him not until all the women and children were away. Astor reportedly stood back and asked for the lifeboat number, then after lighting a cigarette he tossed his gloves to Madeleine. Gracie and Second Officer Lightoller, who lowered the boat, both wondered why Astor asked for the lifeboat number. Gracie thought he only wanted to find his wife, but Lightoller thought he was going to sue the company later.

Astor then went to smoke his cigarette with author Jacques Futrelle. Both Madeleine and Mrs. Brown survived. Futrelle and Astor did not.

John Jacob Astor IV's body was recovered by the steamer CS MacKay-Bennett on April 22, not far from the sinking. Reports said his body was badly crushed and covered in soot but all who examined his body maintained that it was in perfect condition with no bruising. He was identified by the initials sewn on the lapel of his jacket.

124 - MALE - ESTIMATED AGE 50 - LIGHT HAIR & MOUSTACHE CLOTHING - Blue serge suit; blue handkerchief with "A.V."; belt with gold buckle; brown boots with red rubber soles; brown flannel shirt; "J.J.A." on back of collar.

EFFECTS - Gold watch; cuff links, gold with diamond; diamond ring with three stones; £225 in English notes; $2440 in notes; £5 in gold; 7s. in silver; 5 ten franc pieces; gold pencil; pocketbook.


William Dobbyn was Colonel Astor’s Executive secretary and one of his closest confidantes. While Astor was expanding his fortune in real estate and dining with presidents, Dobbyn took care of the administrative aspects of the millionaire's life and was known to have advised him on many matters both personal and business. He travelled to Europe while Madeleine and J.J. Astor were on honeymoon but did not return on Titanic with the couple. The Washington Times of 27th April 1912 is quoted as saying “William Dobbyn, Colonel Astor’s personal secretary received the news for the Astor family, Mr Dobbyn said Captain Richard Roberts of Colonel Astor’s Steam Yacht Noma is now in Halifax and would claim the body”. Dobbyn stayed with the Astor Family as Vincent Astor’s secretary continuing the close bond he had with his father and worked for Astor's son for an additional 13 years after J.J’s death resigning in 1924. During an esteemed career, he also served Levi P. Morton the 22nd Vice President of the United States.

The New York Times Obituary after Mr Dobbyn’s death published on Sunday August 6th 1939 stated that Vincent Astor visited him only three weeks before his death, again emphasising their close bond.

14kt 17 jewel Waltham pocket watch engraved on case JJA. A signed affidavit accompanies the watch from William Dobbyn IV’s daughter-in-law stating that the watch was a gift to William Dobbyn’s son (William Dobbyn V) from Vincent Astor when he stood as his Godfather at his Christening in 1935. The affidavit states that Vincent informed him the watch was carried by his father when he perished in the sinking of the Titanic on April 15th 1912 and recovered with his body. The watch itself was completely restored after being returned to Colonel Astor’s family and worn by his son making it a unique part of the Titanic story and one of the most important pieces of horological history relating to the most famous ship in the world. The lot also includes a copy of William Dobbyn V’s Baptismal certificate dated June 3rd 1935 showing Vincent Astor as a sponsor, a copy of a letter from Madelaine Astor to William Dobbyn relating to her late husband, a copy of a photograph of Vincent Astor with personal inscription of William Dobbyn IV, original 19th Century portrait miniatures of William Dobbyn I and his wife and an appraisal from Ken Schultz, who was regarded as one the world’s leading Titanic authorities prior to his death in 2006. The watch is shown in a full-page illustration in the most definitive book relating to Titanic memorabilia Titanic Fortune and Fate Simon and Schuster 1998 and has been on display at the following exhibitions and museums: Mariners Museum, New York: Fortune and Fate (1998), Blackhawk Museum (Danville Calif.): Titanic (2001), Ronald Reagan Presidential Library: “Titanic at the Reagan Library" (2017), National Geographic Exhibition, Washington DC: 'Titanic The Untold Story' (2018) and Titanic Museum ‘The World’s Largest Titanic Attraction’ (2022-23) a truly unique piece of history.


Auction of Titanic, White Star and Transport Memorabilia
Venue address
Unit 1
Bath Road Business Centre
Bath Road
Devizes, Wiltshire
SN10 1XA
United Kingdom
Auction of Titanic, White Star and Transport Memorabilia


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Auction dates
Apr 27, 2024 12:00 PM BST
Viewing dates
Apr 24, 2024 10:00 AM - 04:00 PM BST
Apr 25, 2024 10:00 AM - 04:00 PM BST
Apr 26, 2024 10:00 AM - 04:00 PM BST
Apr 27, 2024 09:00 AM - 12:00 PM BST
Auction currency
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COLLECTIONS: We will operate a click and collect system by appointment from our car park in line with goverment guidance. 


Mailboxes in Chippenham 01249 446141 and Westbrook Packing 01380 859486 Please note we will operate a click and collect system by appointment from our car park in line with goverment guidance. 

These Conditions of Sale and Business constitute the contract between Henry Aldridge and Son Limited (the “Auctioneer”) and the seller, on the one hand, and the buyer on the other. By bidding at the auction, you agree to be bound by these terms.

Conditions of Sale for Buyers

These Conditions of Sale and Business constitute the contract between Henry Aldridge and Son Limited (the “Auctioneer”) and the seller, on the one hand, and the buyer on the other. By bidding at the auction, you agree to be bound by these terms.


1. Introduction. The following informative notes are intended to assist Buyers, particularly those inexperienced or new to our salerooms. All sales are conducted on our printed Conditions of Sale which are readily available for inspection and normally accompany catalogues. Our staff will be happy to help you if there is anything you do not fully understand.

2. Agency. As auctioneers we usually contract as agents for the seller whose identity, for reasons of confidentiality, is not normally disclosed. Accordingly if you buy your primary contract is with the seller.

3. Estimates. Estimates are designed to help buyers gauge what sort of sum might be involved for the purchase of a particular lot. The lower estimate may represent the reserve price and certainly will not be below it. Estimates do not include the Buyer’s Premium or VAT (where chargeable). Estimates are prepared some time before the sale and may be altered by announcement before the sale. They are in no sense definitive.

4. Buyer’s Premium. The buyer agrees to pay a buyer’s premium on the hammer price of each lot purchased. The buyer’s premium is 22% of the hammer price up to and including £500,000, 15% of the hammer price from £500,001 up to and including £1,000,000, and 10% of the hammer price in excess of £1,000,001. VAT at the prevailing rate of 20% is added to buyer’s premium and additional charges as defined below.

5. VAT. (*) indicates that VAT is payable by the purchaser at the standard rate (presently 20%) on the hammer price as well as being an element in the buyer’s premium. This imposition of VAT is likely to be because the seller is registered for VAT within the European Union and is not operating the Dealers Margin Scheme or because VAT is due at 20% on importation into the UK. The double symbol (**) indicates that the lot has been imported from outside the European Union and the present position is that these lots are liable to a reduced rate of VAT (5%) on the gross lot price (i.e. both the hammer price and the buyer’s premium). Lots which appear without either of the above symbols indicate that no VAT is payable on the hammer price. This is because such lots are sold using the Auctioneers’ Margin Scheme it should be noted that the VAT included within the Premium is not recoverable as input tax.

6. Descriptions and Conditions. Condition reports are provided on our website or upon request. The absence of a report does not imply that a lot is without imperfections. The detail in a report will reflect the estimated value of the lot, and large numbers of such requests received shortly before the sale may not receive a response to all lots. Members of staff are not trained restorers or conservators and, particularly for higher value lots, you should obtain an opinion from such a professional. We recommend that you always view a lot in person. We are, primarily, agents for the seller. We are dependent on information provided by the seller and whilst we may inspect lots and act reasonably in taking a general view about them we are normally unable to carry out a detailed or any examination of lots in order to ascertain their condition in the way in which it would be wise for a buyer to do. Intending buyers have ample opportunity for inspection of goods, therefore, accept responsibility for inspecting and investigating lots in which they may be interested. Please note carefully the exclusion of liability for the condition of lots contained in the Conditions of Sale. Neither the seller nor we, as the auctioneers, accept any responsibility for their condition. In particular, mechanical objects of any age are not guaranteed to be in working order. Additionally, in specified circumstances lots misdescribed because they are ‘deliberate forgeries’ may be returned and repayment made. There is a 3 week time limit. (The expression ‘deliberate forgery’ is defined in our Conditions of Sale).

7. Electrical goods. These are sold as ‘antiques’ only and if bought for use must be checked over for compliance with safety regulations by a qualified electrician first.

8. Export of goods. Buyers intending to export goods should ascertain (a) whether an export licence is required and (b) whether there is any specific prohibition on importing goods of that character because, e.g. they may contain prohibited materials such as ivory. Ask us if you need assistance.

9. Bidding. Bidders are required to register before the sale commences and lots will be invoiced to the name and address on the registration form. Some form of identification may be required if you are unknown to us. Please enquire in advance about our arrangements for telephone bidding.

10. Commission bidding. Commission bids may be left with the auctioneers indicating the maximum amount to be bid excluding buyers’ premium. They will be executed as cheaply as possible having regard to the reserve (if any) and competing bids. If two buyers submit identical commission bids the auctioneers may prefer the first bid received. Please enquire in advance about our arrangements for the leaving of commission bids by telephone or fax.

11. Methods of Payment. The following methods of payment are acceptable. Debit Card drawn on a UK bank and registered to a UK billing address. There is no additional charge for purchases made with these cards. Overseas debit cards will be charged as per a credit card due to the charges levied by the card company. Bank transfer direct into our bank account, all transfers must state the relevant sale number, lot number and your bid / paddle number. If transferring from a foreign currency, the amount we receive must be the total due in pounds sterling (after currency conversion and the deduction of any bank charges). Our bank details can be found on the front or your invoice. Sterling cash payments of up to £8,000 (subject to money laundering regulations). All major UK issued credit cards registered to a UK billing address with the exception of American Express and Diners Club. A surcharge of 3% is payable on all payments made by credit cards.

12. Collection and storage. Please note what the Conditions of Sale state about collection and storage. It is important that goods are paid for and collected promptly. Any delay may involve the buyer in paying storage charges.

13. Droit de suite royalty/ARR/DACS charges. From 1st January 2012 all UK art market professionals (which includes but is not limited to; auctioneers, dealers, galleries, agents and other intermediaries) are required to collect a royalty payment for all works of art that have been produced by qualifying artists each time a work is re-sold during the artist’s lifetime and for a period up to 70 years following the artists death. This payment is only calculated on qualifying works of art which are sold for a hammer price more than the UK sterling equivalent of EURO 1,000 – the UK sterling equivalent will fluctuate in line with prevailing exchange rates. It is entirely the responsibility of the buyer to acquaint himself with the precise EURO to UK Sterling exchange rate on the day of the sale in this regard, and the auctioneer accepts no responsibility whatsoever if the qualifying rate is different to the rate indicated. All items in this catalogue that are marked with •  are potentially qualifying items, and the royalty charge will be applied if the hammer price achieved is more than the UK sterling equivalent of EURO 1,000. The royalty charge will be added to all relevant buyers’ invoices, and must be paid before items can be cleared. All royalty charges are passed on to the Design and Artists Copyright Society (‘DACS’), no handling costs or additional fees with respect to these charges will be retained by the auctioneers. The royalty charge that will be applied to qualifying items which achieve a hammer price of more than the UK sterling equivalent of EURO 1,000, but less than the UK sterling equivalent of EURO 50,000 is 4%. For qualifying items that sell for more than the UK sterling equivalent of EURO 50,000 a sliding scale of royalty charges will apply – for a complete list of the royalty charges and threshold levels, please see There is no VAT payable on this royalty charge.

14. ASA Guidelines. As per ASA guidelines we would remind all buyers that estimates do not include our buyer’s premium at 22% (excluding VAT and any other fees) and this should be taken into account when bidding.







Henry Aldridge and Son Limited offers an online bidding service via and for bidders who cannot attend the sale. In completing the bidder registration on or and providing your credit card details and unless alternative arrangements are agreed with Henry Aldridge and Son Limited. You authorise Henry Aldridge and Son Limited, if they so wish, to charge the credit card given in part or full payment, including all fees, for items successfully purchased in the auction via or, and confirm that you are authorised to provide these credit card detailsto ‘Henry Aldridge and Son Limited’ through and agree that Henry Aldridge and Son Limited are entitled to ship the goods to thecard holder name and card holder address provided in fulfilment of the sale.

Please note that any lots purchased via live auction service will be subject to an additional 5% commission charge + VAT at the rate imposed on the hammer price. If you are using the platform it is subject to an additional 5% plus VAT levied by the provider or a £3 flat fee payable prior to bidding. Finally you can register via our own website and pay 3% plus VAT.

(2) You personally are not able to transfer a good and marketable title to us, you shall have no rights under this condition. 

The right of return provided by this Condition is additional to any right or remedy provided by law or by these Conditions of Sale. 


16. We shall have the right at our discretion, to refuse admission to our premises or attendance at our auctions by any person. 

17. (1) Any right to compensation for losses liabilities and expenses incurred in respect of and as a result of any breach of these Conditions and any exclusions provided by them shall be available to the seller and/or the auctioneer as appropriate. 

(2) Such rights and exclusions shall extend to and be deemed to be for the benefit of employees and agents of the seller and/or the auctioneer who may themselves enforce them. 

18. Any notice to any buyer, seller, bidder or viewer may be given by first class mail or email or in which case it shall be deemed to have been received by the addressee 48 hours after posting. 

19. Special terms may be used in catalogue descriptions of particular classes of items in which case the descriptions must be interpreted in accordance with any glossary appearing at the commencement of the catalogue. 

20. Any indulgence extended to bidders, buyers or sellers by us notwithstanding the strict terms of these Conditions or of the Terms of Consignment shall affect the position at the relevant time only and in respect of that particular concession only; in all other respects these Conditions shall be construed as having full force and effect. 

21. English law applies to the interpretation of these Conditions.


PLEASE NOTE: Payment is by Card or Bank transfer only NO CASH. Collections by Appointment ONLY.

Buyers Premium: The purchaser shall pay the hammer price together with a premium of 22% of the hammer price on lots costing £500,000 and below. For lots costing over £500,000.01 Buyers Premium will be charged at 20% on the first £500,000 then at 15% on the excess. The premium attracts VAT at the standard rate and is payable by all purchasers.


HMRC have decreed that VAT on buyer's premium is always payable whether the buyer is domiciled in the UK, the EU or outside the EU or wherever the goods are to be sent.  So auctioneers cannot refund VAT on buyer's premium if the goods are sold under normal VAT rules.


Please Note: All Gold, Silver, Jewellery, Watch and Bullion Lots must be paid for by Direct Bank Transfer, Credit Cards and Not Accepted on These Lots.

Please note that any lots purchased via live auction service will be subject to an additional 5% commission charge + VAT at the rate imposed on the hammer price.


Please note due to the high number of attempted fraudulent card transactions that we have experienced recently, we will no longer be accepting payment over the phone by credit or debit card for over £250.