Rare Titanic menu shedding light on life aboard sells for over $100,000

Nov 13, 2023, 5:29 PM

The water-stained menu for Titanic's first-class passengers
Mandatory Credit:	Henry Aldridge and So...

The water-stained menu for Titanic's first-class passengers Mandatory Credit: Henry Aldridge and Son Ltd

London (CNN) — A rare first-class menu from the Titanic sold for £83,000 ($102,000) on Saturday as part of an auction of memorabilia associated with the doomed ocean liner.

Heavily water-stained, with some of the lettering partly erased, the menu likely ended up in the North Atlantic for a time when the Titanic sank in the early hours of April 15, 1912, British auction house Henry Aldridge and Son Ltd. said in the lot description.

The ultimately salvaged menu details the first dinner on board after the Titanic set sail from Queenstown, Belfast and reveals the opulence that the ship’s first-class passengers would have experienced.

Dinner options on that night of April 11 included oysters, sirloin of beef with horseradish cream and pureed parsnips, with desserts including apricot Bordaloue — a type of tart — and Victoria pudding.

There seem to be no other surviving examples of the first-class menu for that specific night, the auction house found after consulting museums with Titanic collections and speaking to leading memorabilia collectors.

Other items in the auction offer a fleeting glimpse into the lives of the 2,223 passengers and crew on board the Titanic, of whom just 706 survived.

A tartan blanket used by one of those survivors to stay warm in a lifeboat was hailed by the auction house as “one of the rarest three dimensional objects we have seen,” and sold for £96,000 ($117,000).

Previously, the blanket belonged to Frederick Toppin, who, in his capacity as Assistant General Manager in New York of the company that owned the Titanic, had acquired it at a New York pier when he met rescued passengers coming ashore, the auction house said prior to Saturday’s sale.

But 1,517 of those on board the Titanic did not survive, and a pocket watch belonging to Sinai Kantor, a Russian immigrant traveling to the United States in second class, marks the moment he entered the water and later died. It fetched £97,000 ($119,000) to become the most expensive lot sold at Saturday’s auction.

Other items on sale included a facing slip, used to mark bundles of mail, that highlighted the fate of the postal clerks aboard, all of whom died attempting to haul mail sacks to the ship’s upper decks to try to save them from flooding, the auction house added.

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Rare Titanic menu shedding light on life aboard sells for over $100,000