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Movie inspires woman to seek out aged book

July 19, 1998

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

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Titanic BookBy BRENDAN KIRBY / Staff Writer

HALFWAY - After watching last year's blockbuster "Titanic," Ginny Leiter recalled an old book about the sinking of the famous ship.

Leiter dusted off "The Sinking of the Titanic and Great Sea Disasters," which had been sitting on the bookshelf in her Knotty Pine Drive home for nearly 20 years, since her parents died.

Published in 1912, just months after the ship went down, it is among the first detailed accounts of the tragedy.

As Leiter read, she said she saw remarkable similarities to the scenes depicted in James Cameron's Academy Award-winning film. She pointed to a picture in the book of the staircase leading down to the ship's ballroom.

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The staircase in the movie is an exact replica.

"It's very interesting because it shows how all the people felt as it sunk," she said. "I'm reading it again after all these years, and I still find it interesting after having seen the movie."

Leiter, 77, said she and her siblings saved various items when her father died in 1979.

"There were just a pile of books lying on the floor and this was on top," she said.

Despite discouragements from her mother, Leiter said she read the book as a child.

Decades later, it remains in good condition. The pictures are crisp and clear and the print hardly reveals its 86 years.

"Titanic" the movie, which is enjoying a second run at the discount theater in Long Meadow, has helped spur interest in "Titanic" the book. Leiter's husband, Frank, said he called the Sotheby's auction house about its value.

Frank Leiter said the rarity of the printing - there are only a few left - and interest in the movie have spurred interest in the book. He said appraisers estimated its value at between $200 and $400.

Ginny Leiter said that is quite a markup over what her mother paid for it.

"She probably didn't pay over 50 cents or $1," she said.

Both Frank and Ginny said they enjoyed the movie and praised its accuracy.

"The movie was very true, except for the extra love story," Frank Leiter said.

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