Listen to the toy pig music box that played as the Titanic sank

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This pig-shaped music box made it aboard one of the Titanic's lifeboats and played for hours while the ship sank. Now, thanks to the magic of computed tomography, we can listen to the pig's eerie tune.

The music box belonged to Edith Rosenbaum (who later changed her name to Edith Russell), described by the National Maritime Museum as "a successful player in the fashion world," who was a first-class traveler aboard the doomed vessel. In case you're wondering how, of all things, this odd music box managed to get off the ship, Russell explained the circumstances in a 1970 television interview:

‘I never would have left the ship,’ she recalled, ‘but a sailor came along and he said “say you; you don’t want to be saved, well I’ll save your baby” and he grabbed this pig from under my arm and he tossed it in the lifeboat … when they threw that pig, I knew it was my mother calling me.’ (British Pathé 347801)


Russell and the pig made it aboard Lifeboat 11, and for several hours, she played the music box to comfort the children sitting with her.

Although the pig survived, the mechanism was broken by the time it reached the National Maritime Museum, and the pig's song hadn't been heard in living memory. Because the pig couldn't be opened without doing irreparable damage, it was brought to Nikon Metrology and computer tomography specialist Andrew Ramsey (who also CT-scanned the Antikythera Mechanism). That allowed the museum researchers to assemble a digital model of the pig and dissect it virtually. They were also able to view a digital model of the toothed wheel, allowing them to replicate the pig's song.


The tune is La Sorella by Charles Borel-Clerq, and now you can listen to it while looking at scans of the pig's innards. The effect is rather creepy.

Musical Pig [National Maritime Museum via Nerdcore]