The rusty key, which was for the door of a staff stairwell that was opened so that the crew could start unloading hundreds of mails from the bowels of the ship, is expected to fetch more than 50,000 pounds at an upcoming auction. The key, which has a brass tag engraved with "SERVICE FORd 'E' DECK", belonged to Edmund Stone, 33, a first-class bedroom steward, who perished when the Titanic sunk, reports The Telegraph.
After an inquiry into the disaster, Henry Etches, a steward on the ship, revealed how he had met Stone on the stairwell after the ship hit the iceberg.
When he asked Stone the time, the first-class bedroom steward replied: "Never mind that; there is something else for you to do."
Etches was then encouraged to help other staff unload hundreds of mail bags, some of them already wet from the sea water, from the Post Office and mail room below E deck.
However, their rescue attempts failed and all of the bags were lost when the ship went down.
But, by using the key to unlock the door to the stairwell, Stone may have enabled passengers and crew to use the exit to go on deck and get into lifeboats.
The key and other artefacts were recovered when Stone's dead body was recovered from the water.