La Catastrophe du “Titanic”


Cartographer(s): Excelsior
Date: 17 April 1912
Place: Paris
Dimensions: 43 x 58 cm (17 x 23 in)
Condition Rating: VG

In stock

An early illustrated account of the Titanic Disaster.


A moving account of the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic, which took place on April 14-15, 1912. The recto includes a photograph of the icy waters of the North Atlantic taken before the disaster in the vicinity where the Titanic struck an iceberg. The bottom half displays a map, oriented towards the west, of the approximate location of the sinking and the nearby ships that came to the rescue.

In the middle are photographs and illustrations relating to communications equipment and John Phillips, the ship’s senior wireless operator. One of the main errors leading to the accident was the failure of Phillips, who was overloaded with a backlog of outgoing messages, to relay warnings about icebergs from nearby ships to the bridge. This was in part a result of the fact that Phillips was an employee of Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company rather than a member of the ship’s crew and his main task was to deliver passengers’ messages rather than reports on weather conditions. As a result, the Titanic steamed ahead straight into a field of icebergs (though the ship’s officers had received warnings earlier in the day about ice and shifted course to the south as a result). Despite his earlier error, once the ship was damaged and began taking on water, Phillips sent out distress signals and was able to contact the R.M.S Carpathia. Phillips stayed at the radio as long as possible to call for assistance and died when the ship went down.

The verso includes further descriptions of the disaster and those who were lost in it. Included at right is a photograph of John Jacob Astor and his wife, Madeleine Talmage Force. One of the wealthiest men in the United States (if not the world) at the time, Astor did not survive the Titanic’s sinking, while his wife, five months pregnant at the time, boarded one of the ship’s lifeboats and was rescued by the Carpathia on the morning of April 15. In addition to Astor, the American businessman Benjamin Guggenheim, the ship’s captain Edward Smith, and a number of executives and engineers of White Star Lines were among the more than 1,500 people who died in the sinking.



Excelsior was a French daily illustrated newspaper published between 1910 and 1940. It was founded by Pierre Lafitte, a journalist turned entrepreneur and pioneer in photojournalism. The inclusion of large illustrations and photographs caused the newspaper’s costs to be quite high, and consequently the price to readers was higher than competitors. New features were added in the 1920s to retain readers and several prominent authors, poets, and artists gained early exposure on its pages. Although never matching Le Petit Parisien in circulation, it remained one of the more prominent papers of the interwar period.

Condition Description

The sheet is in good condition, with wear and slight discoloration along the fold lines and toning along the edge.