Expedition 1987 – Gladstone Bag
August 16, 1987, researchers embarked on their first recovery operation since the fatal tragedy of Titanic 75 years ago. The wreck site would provide explorers the first clue into Titanic’s secrets and help piece together the mystery of what happened that night. As the crew carefully scanned the debris field for the stories each hoped to unfold, they recovered a Gladstone leather handbag. It was later discovered by researchers, during the night of the sinking Titanic's pursers stuffed hand bags like the Gladstone Bag with jewelry and money that passengers had entrusted to the safe deposit boxes. Some of the platinum jewelry of pearls and diamonds found in the bag will be part of the new experience at select exhibitions in Jewels of Titanic.
Although most of these bags went down with the Ship, it is believed the pursers probably planned to load these valuables into the lifeboats and return them to passengers in New York. Fortunately for the Gladstone Bag, its turn-of-the-century tanning process repels the microorganisms that eat organic matter on the ocean floor. RMS Titanic, Inc. is then able to recover such incredible objects that sometimes have their contents intact.