This set of keys belonged to Samuel Ernest Hemming, the lamp trimmer on board RMS TITANIC. Aged 43 at the time of the sinking, he had been at sea since the age of 15, and with White Star Line for five years. His duties were 'to mix the paint, and all that kind of thing for the ship, and to look after all the decks, trim all the lamps, and get them in proper order, and to put the lights in at night-time and take them off at daybreak' (taken from evidence Hemming gave to the US Senatorial Titanic Inquiry).
On the night of the disaster, Hemming was woken by the impact and discovered that the hissing noise he could hear was coming from air escaping from the exhaust tank. He reported this to Chief Officer Wilde, but after seeing no real reason for concern, went back to his bunk. A few minutes later the ship's joiner came in, followed by the Boatswain who exclaimed, "Turn out you fellows. You haven't half an hour to live. That is from Mr. Andrews, but keep it to yourselves and let no-one know."
Hemming helped prepare to lower and load the lifeboats and was put in charge of supplying them with lamps. When all the lifeboats had gone, Hemming went to the roof to start releasing a collapsible lifeboat when Second Officer Lightoller came up and said, "Why haven't you gone Hemming?". He replied, "Oh, plenty of time yet, Sir."
However, this was not the case. Sixth Officer Moody said that the boat was not needed and therefore with very little time until the Titanic finally sunk, Hemming left the boat and was picked up from the icy cold water by lifeboat number 4.
This lot is sold with copies of letters from the Titanic Historical Society and the Southampton Maritime Museum. Also included are copies of Hemming's account of the disaster and a letter from Hemming's son to his friend, the previous vendor, together with copies of photographs including the group of crew and officers at Washington after the American Enquiry and Hemming on board ship.