Titanic’s last menu fetches $88,000 at auction in New York

A first class menu from Titanic’s last meal has sold for $88,000 in a new York auction yesterday – easily beating the pre-auction estimate of 70,000 estimate by Lion Heart Autographs in their sale catalogue.

Since the centenary of the tragedy and the blockbuster movie, genuine Titanic memorabilia has proven to be highly collectible and prices are still rising.

  • The auction record stands at $1.7m – achieved by the violin played by Wallace Harley, the leader of the band that famously played on as the ship sank.
This Titanic lunch menu - one of only three known to have survived bears the fateful date of April 14, 1912.

This Titanic lunch menu – one of only three known to have survived bears the fateful date of April 14, 1912.

The menu, which displays the food available to the first class passengers, belonged to American first class passenger Abraham Lincoln Salomon (1868-1959), who survived the sinking of the ship and carried the menu home.

  • Salomon was one of the five passengers who escaped on board the infamous Lifeboat 1. Some New York press reports dubbed Boat 1 the “Money Boat”, due to the claim the wealthy passengers paid seven crew members to quickly row away from the listing ship and not pick up other survivors.
    • The lifeboat had a capacity of 40, but was launched with only twelve aboard, the least number of occupants to escape in a boat that night.
    • Most of the occupants of Boat 1 were men, despite Captain Smith’s call for “women and children first.” First Officer Murdoch, in charge of the evacuation effort on the ship’s starboard side, allowed a number of First-Class male passengers to board lifeboats in order to calm the women and move the process along.
      • Murdoch permitted five passengers and seven crew members to board Boat 1.
      • The passengers included Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon; his wife Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon; her secretary, Mabel Francatelli; Abraham Salomon and C. E. Henry Stengel.
      • The crewmen were: Lookout George Symons, whom Murdoch placed in charge of the craft, Charles Hendrickson, Samuel Collins, George Taylor, Frederick Sheath, Robert Pusey and Albert Horswill.
The day after the tragedy, when all the survivors were safely aboard the rescue ship Carpathia, Sir Cosmo wrote each of the sailors and firemen who had been aboard Boat 1 a cheque for £5, and they all posed together for a photograph.  When that photo was subsequently published in the world’s press, its incongruous smiling faces seemed to suggest the Duff Gordons’ callous indifference to the tragedy. Lady Duff Gordon nonetheless insisted that Sir Cosmo had simply made a generous gesture to men who were in financial difficulties, and that the real mystery was why other survivors had not done the same.

The day after the tragedy, when all the survivors were safely aboard the rescue ship Carpathia, Sir Cosmo wrote each of the sailors and firemen who had been aboard Boat 1 a cheque for £5, and they all posed together for a photograph. 

When that photo was subsequently published in the world’s press, its incongruous smiling faces seemed to suggest the Duff-Gordons’ callous indifference to the tragedy.

  • Lady Duff-Gordon nonetheless insisted that Sir Cosmo had simply made a generous gesture to men who were in financial difficulties, and that the real mystery was why other survivors had not done the same.

That tale, the menu’s poignancy as Titanic’s last meal, and its extreme rarity ensured a strong price.

“Only three other Titanic lunch menus from this date are known,” explained the auctioneer.

  • “One was donated to the Greenwich National Maritime Museum by Walter Lord, author of A Night to Remember, and another sold for £76,000 (approximately $120,000) in 2012…

This is an extremely rare artifact from the Titanic and the price achieved reflects the rarity + the traceable provenance and infamous association.

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