Sunday, May 31, 2009

Moment in History Passes With Death of Millvina Dean, Last Titanic Survivor

Millvina Dean, the last survivor of the Titanic, has passed away at the age of 97. Much will be written in the coming hours and days about the fateful voyage of the 'unsinkable' liner and its place in history. While the sinking of the enormous ship and the tragedy that went with it is very saddening, I'd argue that the Titanic has become just as much a part of pop culture as it has become a part of history.

From T-shirts to books to 3D puzzles to the highest grossing film of all-time, Titanic-mania is a historical brand up there with Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana. It's pretty creepy how tragedy solidifies our collective imaginations. Non-sport cards have not been immune to Titanic-mania, especially since teenage girls first fell in love with Leonardo Dicaprio.

It was only after the film came out and was a huge success that Inkworks produced a set based on the Titanic movie in 1998. Available only as a factory set, the 25 movie cards came in a fancy steamer trunk. The set was "limited" to 10,000 copies and included a certificate of authenticity. It turns out 10,000 isn't all that limited when it comes to card collecting so the set can still be tracked down. Buy It Now prices on eBay have it going for around $30-40.

Another closed non-sport producer, Dart Flipcards, went the historical route for their 1998 set. The 72-card base set features a mix of photographs and artwork on the card fronts and informational text on the back. Inserts included six die-cut gold-foil White Star cards inserted 1:18 packs. Two autographs, one from Dean (pictured above) and one from Ralph White, the late filmmaker who documented the discovery of the Titanic in 1985, were inserted at a rate of 1:246 packs (one in seven boxes). Factory sets also included four bonus cards. Dart made three promo cards as well as four show exclusive promos to help generate buzz for the set.

The Titanic hasn't escaped the pop culture craze that has invaded sports sets either. 2008 Topps Mayo Football included a card of the ship in their mini inserts dedicated to famous ships.

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