Three extremely rare pieces of memorabilia from the shipwrecked Titanic will be put up for auction online on September 30, in one of the most interesting selections of Titanic artifacts to appear yet.
A rare menu from the last lunch to ever be served on the Titanic, a letter from a Titanic survivor referring to an “unjust inquiry,” and a ticket from the ship’s Turkish Bath’s unusual “weighing chair” will be available on Ebay at the end of the month in an auction run by New York-based company Lion Heart Autographs.
The well-preserved menu dates from lunch in the first-class saloon of the Titanic on April 14, 1912, just hours before the ship was struck by an iceberg.
The contents of the menu (estimated at $50,000- $70,000) are a fantastic insight into life on the Titanic and the decadence of the lives of those making the passage across the Atlantic in first-class. This particular menu came from the ship via the hands of Abraham Lincoln Salomon, a wholesale stationer with offices in New York and Philadelphia who survived the disaster in the now infamous Lifeboat No. 1, later nicknamed “the money boat” and “the millionaires’ boat”.
It is also signed on the back by Isaac Gerald Frauenthal, a New York lawyer who was likely the dining companion of Salomon during the journey. It is thought that he signed the back of the menu and gave it to Salomon so as to keep in contact once the pair reached New York.
First-class meals on the Titanic could often be 13-course affairs and such was the expense of keeping the richest passengers fed and watered, it is reported that the first-class head chef Charles Proctor was the highest paid member of staff after the ship’s captain.
Is it any wonder when we look at the feast he had to prepare for just one meal of the day: “consommé fermier; cockie leekie soup; fillets of brill; egg a L’Argenteuil; chicken a la Maryland; corned beef; vegetables; dumplings; grilled mutton chops; mashed, fried, and baked jacket potatoes; custard pudding; apple meringue; pastry; a buffet of salmon mayonnaise; potted shrimps; Norwegian anchovies; soused herrings; plain and smoked sardines; roast beef; round or spiced beef; veal and ham pie; Virginia and Cumberland ham; Bologna sausage; brawn; galantine of chicken; corned ox tongue; lettuce; beetroot; tomatoes; a selection of Cheshire, Stilton, Gorgonzola, Edam, Camembert, Roquefort, St. Ivel, and cheddar cheese; and, for an extra threepence or sixpence per tankard, “iced draught Munich Lager Beer!”
And if that was what they were eating just for lunch, is it any wonder that the top-deck passengers were worried about their waistlines? The second lot in the auction is one of only four known tickets from the weighing chair specially designed for the Turkish Baths aboard the Titanic, also linked to the occupants of Lifeboat No. 1.
The ticket (estimate $7,500- $10,000) holds the names of influential fashion designer Lucy Duff-Gordon; her husband, wealthy Scottish nobleman Cosmo Duff-Gordon; and Lucy’s secretary Laura Mabel Francatelli. This trio joined Salomon, a fifth passenger, and seven crew members in the first lifeboat to leave the Titanic and later watched with horror as the ship broke in two while they remained out of harm’s way in their near empty lifeboat.
The Turkish Baths are believed to have been among the most lavish rooms on the Titanic and the weighing chair was a novelty piece added with the intention of being larger and more luxurious than their competition.
The final Titanic piece is linked to the same trio; a letter (estimate of $4,000-$6,000) from Laura Mabel Francatelli to Salomon in which she describes her feelings about the “unjust inquiry” into their lifeboat rescue.
Dated October 12, 1912, six months after the sinking, Francatelli writes, “I am afraid our nerves are still bad, as we had such trouble & anxiety added to our already awful experience by the very unjust inquiry when we arrived in London.”
As fate would have it, pieces from another of the world’s most tragically-fated ships, the Lusitania, are also available in an online auction throughout September.
Lockdales auctioneers in England are offering the public the chance to own “the ill-fated Lusitania captain’s medals” of Commander William Turner, OBE, the captain of the passenger liner that was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the south coast of Ireland in May 1915.
The RMS Lusitania still remains underwater off the coast of Kinsale almost a hundred years after it was torpedoed and sank as it made its way from New York to London, resulting in the loss of 1,201 lives. The disaster is considered the catalyst to US involvement in the First World War as 114 Americans were among those killed.
The ship’s captain Turner was later rescued despite going down with the ship, having saved himself by clinging onto a rowing oar.
“For an auctioneer, this is a situation that sends a shiver down the spine, especially as this is the anniversary year of the disaster,” said James Sadler, the Lockdales’ auction manager.
“Although inquiries exonerated Commander Turner, the sinking of the Lusitania cast a shadow over the rest of his life. But he deservedly got full medal entitlement and was, without doubt, an honourable man.”
The medals up for auction include a silver hallmarked 1917 OBE, a transport medal with South Africa clasp 1899- 1902, a “star trio” of first World War medals and a Liverpool Humane Society medal
Would you prefer to own memorabilia from the Titanic or the Lusitania, or neither? Tell us why in the comments section.