A dinner menu from Titanic sold for a remarkable £45,000 as more than 400 items of memorabilia were auctioned at the weekend; with public interest heightened by this year’s centenary, many prices were way above expectations.
A document signed by the “Unsinkable Molly Brown” and other survivors, calling for Captain Arthur Rostron and his crew on board rescue ship Carpathia to be rewarded for their valour went to an American buyer for £35,000 at the sale held by Henry Aldridge and Son at Devizes, Wiltshire
Also for sale was the gold medal awarded to Second Officer James Bisset as a result of the Carpathia petition – only the second to have reached the market in the last 25 years. Bisset later became Commodore of the Cunard line and his medal was sold together with a photograph of him with Sir Winston and Lady Churchill, and a copy of a letter written by Sir Winston while he was on board Queen Mary in 1944.
With an estimate of £32,000 to £36,000, the lot sold for £41,000.
The menu for the first class dinner served on the first night on board Titanic after leaving Southampton went to a British collector. The menu survived because it was posted home by steward Charles Casswill to his wife Hilda when Titanic called at Queenstown (now Cobh) near the Irish city of Cork. Casswill himself drowned when the ship sank.
Among the items on the menu were mutton cutlets with green peas, supréme of chicken à la Stanley, sirlion
Other highlights included an archive of photographs and letters relating to First Class passengers John and Nelle Snyder which included first generation images taken from Titanic’s rescue ship Carpathia by the Fenwick family, showing Titanic lifeboats nearing the Carpathia and also unique images of the Californian at Titanic’s wreck site on the morning of April 15, 1912. The Californian photo sold for £10,000.
A hand-written manuscript by Mr Snyder dated April 24 described Titanic’s demise and their rescue by the Carpathia in great depth.
“I can only tell you that I have a mighty fine wife and she is the one you must thank – besides our Lord – for my being able to write this letter. If it hadn’t been for Nelle … She is the one that urged me to get up when I wanted to go back to bed. We were both asleep when the boat hit. I don’t know whether the bump woke me … When we reached the top deck only a few people were about … Nearly everybody stiffed [sic] back from in front of us and as a result we were almost the very first people placed in the life boat…”
The letter goes on to describe the clothing they wore onto Carpathia. “Nelle had on every stitch of clothing of her winter suit – a sweater, her long steamer coat, mink furs, winter coat, high shoes etc – I had on my suit, a sweater, winter overcoat, shoes.” The manuscript sold for £11,000. A photograph of their arrival in New York (below) fetched more than £12,000.
Other lots included a unique day ticket to access to the Titanic on the morning of the April 10 (£20,000), a postcard (£6,000) and letter (£10,000) written onboard the liner, a booklet of Marconi grams relating to J Bruce Ismay (£14,000) and a rare silk stevenograph posted on Titanic (£8,800).