A First-Class Dinner Menu Salvaged From the Titanic Makes Waves at Auction
The sale also included a pocket watch that was literally "frozen in time."
A first-class dinner menu from onboard the Titanic dated the night of April 11, 1912—just one day after the ill-fated ship set sail—sold at a U.K. auction house for a staggering £83,000 ($102,000). It is the only known menu to exist from that day of the voyage, since most menus that were salvaged were dated from the evening of April 14, before the ship sank.
An item purchased for $102,000 in 1913, the year after the ship sank and the farthest back an inflation calculator from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis provides data, would be worth more than $3 million today. Meanwhile, the purchase price of $120,000 reflected in 1913 values would be about $3,327.
The menu was sold by Henry Aldridge & Son, an auction house that has a dedicated department to the sale of Titanic artifacts and memorabilia.
The sale also included a first-class tartan deck blanket recovered from one of the lifeboats, a pocket watch recovered from second-class passenger and shipwreck victim Sinai Kantor, and other historic items. The blanket sold for £96,000 and the watch sold for £97,000.
“The prices reflect the ongoing interest in the most famous liner of all time and the stories behind her passengers and crew,” Andrew A. Aldridge, the managing director of the auction house, said by email. “The menu offered a tangible link to the food that first-class passengers ate on April 11, 1912, and as a consequence is a unique piece of social history.”
The Swiss-made pocket watch’s hands are missing but the Washington Post reported that the stain on the watch face indicates the hands were pointed to about 2:25 a.m., suggesting the watch stopped because it hit the water with its owner about five minutes before the ship sank.
“It’s literally frozen in time at that point, 111 years ago, when Titanic sank beneath the waves and Mr. Kantor went into the water,” Andrew A. Aldridge, managing director for the auction house, told the newspaper.
As for the menu, it has an embossed White Star Line emblem in red and would have originally shown gilt lettering depicting the initials for the Ocean Steamship Navigation Company alongside the name of the ship.
“The latter shows signs of water immersion having been partially erased, the reverse of the menu also clearly displays further evidence of this,” reads the listing on the auction house’s website. “This would point to the menu having been subjected to the icy North Atlantic waters.”
Food on the menu includes asparagus soup, oysters, salmon with hollandaise, whitebait fish, tournados of beef à la Victoria (a small steak) and squab à la Godard (a type of pigeon).
The main entrees were spring lamb with mint sauce, roast chicken with bread sauce, sirloin of beef with horseradish cream with green peas, parsnips, boiled rice or potatoes. Another option was mallard duck with port wine sauce and a salad.
Desserts included French ice cream, Victoria pudding, apricots bordaloue and petits mocka. According to the Mirror, old recipes from the era suggest Victoria pudding is a boiled pudding filled with fruit while petits mocka is thought to be some kind of coffee cake.
In 2015, a menu from the last first-class lunch served onboard the ship before it sank sold for $88,000. That menu—from April 14, 1912—was saved from the ship by a New York businessman named Abraham Lincoln Saloman, one of the first-class passengers who was able to escape by lifeboat. It included delicacies including grilled mutton chops and custard pudding.
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