Before the RMS Titanic plunged into the icy waters of the North Atlantic, passengers aboard the storied passenger ship may have feasted on corned beef, potted shrimp and dumplings, according to an unusual artifact from the doomed ship — a lunch menu dated April 14, 1912, the day before the tragic sinking.
The menu, along with several other items from the Titanic’s final days afloat, will be put up for auction Sept. 30 in New York City. The crumpled menu is expected to sell for at least $50,000, according to Lion Heart Autographs, the online auction house handling the sale.
First-class passenger Abraham Lincoln Salomon salvaged the creased and tattered carte du jour, which was tucked inside his pocket when the ship went down on April 15, 1912. Salomon was one of just 12 people who dodged death by boarding the infamous Lifeboat No. 1 or “Money Boat” (although, in total, about 700 of the ship’s 2,223 passengers and crewmembers survived). [Image Gallery: Stunning Shots of the Titanic Shipwreck]
The large lifeboat, which could have held 40 people, was nicknamed for the five wealthy passengers it carried to safety, as well as for the widely held belief that those passengers paid the only other people onboard the boat — seven Titanic crewmembers — to row away from the sinking ship instead of taking on any more survivors.
In addition to the battered menu, Salomon saved a small ticket from the Titanic’s Turkish baths weighing chair, a custom chair that recorded a sitter’s weight. Inscribed on the ticket are the names of three of the passengers who accompanied Salomon on the lifeboat — Miss Laura Mabel Francatelli, Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon and Lady Lucy Duff-Gordon. The tiny ticket is expected to fetch as much as $10,000 at auction.
The final “Money Boat” artifact to be auctioned off is a letter sent by Francatelli, who was an employee of fashion designer Lady Duff-Gordon, to Salomon, dated six months after the Titanic’s sinking. The letter reads:
“We do hope you have now quite recovered from the terrible experience. 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.”
Written on stationary from the upscale Plaza Hotel in New York City, the letter could sell for upward of $4,000, according to Lion Heart Autographs.
In addition to the unusual Titanic memorabilia, the auction will feature a number of other interesting items related to important events in history.
For example, a stack of 170 letters written by Aldrich Ames — the former CIA operative convicted in 1994 for serving as a double agent for the Soviet Union — tells an interesting tale of the inner workings of the CIA, as well as life imprisonment. There is also a letter written by Albert Einstein in April 1938 that was sent to a man named John Stone of St. Petersburg, Florida, in which the Nobel Prize-winning physicist advises Stone against a career in mathematics.
Also for sale is a royal edict written on behalf of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, dated December 1494, that reminds the rulers’ subjects about the “scandals and inconveniences” (as well as the punishments) caused by card games, dice playing and gambling. Dozens of other letters and documents — written by figures ranging from Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara to American folk singer Woody Guthrie — will also hit the online auction block on Sept. 30.
More information about the sale can be found on the Lion Heart Autographs website.