Was Only One Piece Of Baggage Saved From the Titanic?

The Baggage Mystery of The Titanic

We continue from last week to look at the lesser known stories surrounding the sinking of the Titanic. This time we examine the story of the one piece of baggage that seems to have made it off the Titanic.

When the Titanic’s passengers were being loaded into the lifeboats, they were told by the crew they could not bring any luggage with them. Some survivors did bring small bags containing personal effects, but most carried nothing with them.

So how did a canvas bag three feet high and two feet thick filled with personal belongings of a Titanic passenger get back to New York?

Samuel L.Goldenberg

The baggage belonged to Samuel L. Goldenberg a Director in the importing firm of Goldenberg Brothers & Co. of 109 Fifth Avenue.

The large bag, at some point was given to the baggage steward aboard the rescue ship The Carpathia and was placed in customs under the letter “G” when it reached New York.  The steward told the customs officials Mr. Goldenberg a Titanic survivor had given him the bag. But the standard customs examination was waived considering what had happened to the Titanic.

Mr. Goldenberg was initailly listed by early news reports as lost at sea, so it was a surprise and a relief to his friends when he disembarked from the Carpathia when it reached New York.

When asked by reporters for his story about the sinking, Goldenberg refused to answer any questions.

Goldenberg claimed his bag and never commeted on its contents or how the bag got off  the Titanic.

Days later, a New York Times reporter telephoned Joseph Schwab, the  secretary of Goldenberg’s firm and inquired “It is stated at the Custom House, that Mr. Goldenberg owned the only piece of baggage saved from the Titanic. How did he manage to get it off the ship?”

“I have no information to give about Mr. Goldenberg,” Mr. Schwab answered and rang off.

Below is the original story from The New York Times.

Wednesday April 24, 1912

S. L. Goldenberg Brought a “Carry-All” Ashore Loaded with His Effects

CUSTOMS MEN PASSED IT

Don’t Know How It Reached the Carpathia from the Titanic—Bag Was Not Wet

Of all the baggage that was on the White Star liner Titanic only one piece was saved. This was a carry-all, or canvas bag, belonging to Samuel L. Goldenberg, one of the saloon passengers rescued by the Carpathia. At the Custom House Special Deputy Surveyor George Smyth said that it was true that Mr. Goldenberg was the only passenger who saved any baggage, and that his carry-all was the only piece of luggage that was placed underneath any customs letter the night that the Carpathia arrived.”All that I know about it,” said Mr. Smyth, “is that the baggage belonged to Mr. Goldenberg and that it was the only piece saved from the wrecked liner. I do not know what was in the carry-all, as the customs regulations were waived in favor of the Titanic survivors, and as a result the Goldenberg piece was not inspected. That is all that I know about it.”

Until the Carpathia arrived at her pier last Thursday night Mr. Goldenberg had been listed in all of the newspapers as one of the victims of the disaster, and in most of the papers of last Friday morning, in which the scenes and incidents attending the arrival of the Carpathia and the story of the wreck of the Titanic were told, his name still appeared in the lists of missing.

On the pier Mr. Goldenberg was surrounded by friends who congratulated him on his escape. A TIMES reporter approached Mr. Goldenberg and asked him to tell his story of the disaster. He refused to do so and a few minutes later left the pier.

The “carry-all” at the time reposed under the big wooden “G” sign and a customs officer coming up, pointed to it and remarked:

 “There is only one piece of baggage saved from the Titanic.”At the Custom House it was said that no one there knew how the carry-all had been saved. When it was brought ashore it was dry and did not appear to have been in the water at any time.

It was a brown canvas bag that looked to be about three feet high and two feet thick and was well filled with luggage of some kind. Mr.Goldenberg was Chairman of the committee of survivors which issued a long statement to the press on the arrival of the Carpathia.

Samuel L. Goldenberg is a Director in the importing firm of Goldenberg Brothers & Co. of 109 Fifth Avenue. In the directory his home is given as France. The Secretary of the firm, Joseph C. Schwab, who lives in the Hendrik Hudson, 110th Street and Riverside Drive, refused last night to say where Mr. Goldenberg is stopping in New York.

“It is stated at the Custom House,” Mr. Schwab was told, “that Mr. Goldenberg owned the only piece of baggage saved from the Titanic. How did he manage to get it off the ship?”

“I have no information to give about Mr. Goldenberg,” Mr. Schwab answered and rang off.

At the home of Stanley T. Cozzens in East Orange, N. J., no information was to be had. Mr. Cozzens is the President of Goldenberg Brothers & Co.

The firm of Goldenberg Brothers & Co. is one of the largest lace importing firms in the United States. It is capitalized at $1,500,000. The Directors are Mr. Goldenberg, Mr. Cozzens, Mr. Schwab, and Victor W. Wiedeman.

This story stirred up controversy. That a rich man could get his things off the ship, while other survivors had nothing but the clothes on their backs, and over 1,500 people died, compelled Mr. Goldenberg to answer the question. In a letter that the Times published on April 25, 1912 Goldenberg explained what happened.

 New York, April 24, 1912
When I left the Titanic I was dressed in my pajamas, coat, trousers,dressing gown, raincoat, and slippers, (not shoes.) I had time to take two rugs with me, for my wife and for myself. On reaching the Carpathia I was told that the barber had some toilet articles and other things to sell. I therefore made the necessary purchases of toothbrushes and other toilet articles, including shirt and collars; for my wife and myself a pair of shoes,& c. I then asked the barber if he had anything to put them into in the shape of a bag, and he sold me a brown canvas kit bag. On reaching New York I put all of the remaining things into this bag, and this is the bag that was mentioned in THE NEW YORK TIMES.
I state these facts simply for the purpose of not creating a wrong impression, as, in common with all other passengers, I had no thought of saving any of my luggage at such a moment, and actually did not save any. 
S. L. GOLDENBERG

So, in fact there was no luggage saved from the Titanic, but for one day, it was a perplexing story.

Samuel L. Goldenberg was 47 years old when he was saved from the Titanic. He lived the rest of his life in France and died October 11, 1936 at the age of 72.

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