Titanic - Collector's Edition from NGS - 1999

Front Cover of Titanic - Collector's Edition by the National Geographic Society.

Front Cover of Titanic - Collector's Edition by the National Geographic Society. Undated circa 1999. GGA Image ID # 10d17e628f

On the Front Cover: Rust and corrosion grip Titanic's bow as firmly as the memory of the great ship (shown in a postcard inset) lingers decades after her loss.

From the Editor

An Enduring Adventure

The National Geographic Society is no different from the rest of the world in its fascination with Titanic, the luxurious liner tragically lost on her maiden voyage in 1912. We do differ, however, in that we’ve been privileged to bring her story to life, primarily through the words and pictures of two pioneers.

Robert D. Ballard was a young geologist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution when he came to our attention in the early 1970s. Supported in part by research grants and equipment from the Society, Bob Ballard has explored the globes oceans and brought our members numerous magazine articles and Television Specials about his work beneath the waves, from the hydrothermal “black smokers” of the East Pacific Rise to the wreck of Lusitania.

Unquestionably his most famous foray into the deep occurred in 1985, when, as co-leader of a French-American team, Ballard discovered the lost Titanic.
Veteran National Geographic photographer Emory Kristof began working with Bob Ballard in 1974 during Project FAMOUS, the first voyage to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Since then Kristof has helped engineer much of the underwater technology used to capture Ballard’s work on film. The two were together on the historic day when Titanic was found some two and a half miles down in the North Atlantic. Kristof returned to the wreck in 1991—in a manned submersible outfitted with lights he helped engineer—to document the ship in stunning photographic and three-dimensional video images.

This book offers updated information about Titanic as well as a sampling of the work of Ballard and Kristof. Such questing minds are matched by those of our members, who join us in the adventure of discovery.

A portion of the dues from our more than nine million members goes toward funding research and exploration—work that illuminates the planet’s hidden corners and increases understanding of nature, culture, and ourselves.

National Geographic Magazine

From the Inside Back Cover

Titanic’s Immortal Tale

Titanic and her story endure for reasons as basic: and complex as human nature. Born in an era of optimism before world wars and economic depression brought much of the world to its knees, she epitomized humankind's faith in itself and in the machine.

That faith was shattered when the "unsinkable” ship went down—a cautionary tale about human arrogance as rife with subplots of cowardice, courage, heartbreak, and romance as any Greek tragedy.

A floating social metaphor, Titanic bore upper-crust millionaires, mid-level professionals, and hundreds of working-class immigrants looking toward America for a better life. In some ways wealth carried no advantage.

John Jacob Astor, the richest person aboard, died, some believe, when the forward funnel collapsed. His life-jacketed body was identified by the initials on his collar. In other ways wealth may have meant the difference between life and death. Virtually all first- and second-class children survived. Two-thirds of third-class children perished.

Yet Titanic had an unwitting legacy. Her loss led to the formation of an International Ice Patrol to monitor ice movement in the North Atlantic. New regulations were also passed regarding ship construction, 24-hour radio watches, uniformity of distress signals, and provision of adequate lifeboats and safety drills for all passengers.

By serving as a proving ground for remotely operated robotic vehicles after her discovery, Titanic has helped pave the way for safer unmanned exploration of the deep.

For all we've learned about Titanic, her mystery remains. Dozens of books, movies, even Broadway musicals have tried to distill it. Salvagers are hoping to display it. And James Cameron's recent blockbuster movie heightened its romance. In the end we’re left with a story of grandeur and loss, from which each of us draws private meaning.


TEXT: Lisa Moore LaRoe

EDITORIAL RESEARCH: Abigail A.Tipton and Carolyn H. Anderson


LAYOUT: Bill Marr



Illustration credits

  • Front cover: Emory Kristof;
  • Stanley Lehrer Titanic Collection (inset).
  • 1: Perry Thorsvik.
  • 2: The Mariners' Museum, Newport News. Virginia.
  • 3-7: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
  • 8-9: Ballard & Family.
  • 10-11: Emory Kristof.
  • 12: Pierre Mion.
  • 15: Emory Kristof.
  • 16: Emory Kristof.
  • 19: Emory Kristof.
  • 20: William H. Bond.
  • 21: Emory Kristof.
  • 22-3: Richard Schlecht (diagram);
  • Harland & Wolff Picture Collection at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum (top row 22 and center 23):
  • Titanic Historical Society (top row right 23): Woods Hole (bottom row).
  • 24: Woods Hole.
  • 25: Emory Kristof (top): Richard Schlecht.
  • 26-9: Woods Hole.
  • 30: Emory Kristof.
  • 31: William H. Bond (art): Emory Kristof.
  • 32: Richard Schlecht (diagram); Grand Staircase from Ocean Liners of the Past: Olympic and Titanic, published by Patrick Stephens, Ltd., Haynes Publishing: Woods Hole.
  • 33: Woods Hole.
  • 34-5: Ken Marschall. 36: Southampton City Museum (top): Stanley Lehrer Titanic Collection (center); Bruce Dale (bottom): Brown Brothers (right).
  • Back cover: Emory Kristof.

Back Cover of Titanic - Collector's Edition by the National Geographic Society.

Back Cover of Titanic - Collector's Edition by the National Geographic Society. GGA Image ID # 10d1aa37a6

Back Cover: Recalling the crew’s futile attempt to avoid disaster, a bronze steering mechanism, its wheel gone, stands proud in the remnants of Titanic's wheelhouse.

Publication Information

  • Cover: Paperback
  • Publisher: National Geographic Society
  • Edition: First Edition
  • ASIN: B002N24AJK
  • Dimensions: 11.8 x 8.8 x 0.2 inches
  • Publication Date: Undated circa 1999
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