On the evening of April 11, 1912, first-class passengers aboard the Titanic enjoyed a decadent feast. At dinner that night, they ate oysters, salmon with hollandaise sauce, beef, squab, lamb with mint sauce, roast chicken and many other upscale dishes. The ship struck an iceberg three days later.
Now, a water-stained first-class dinner menu from the doomed ship has sold at auction for £84,000 (about $102,000), per BBC News’ Chloe Harcombe. This is the only known menu in existence from April 11, the day after the Titanic set sail.
The well-worn menu still bears the red flag logo of the White Star Line. It likely used to have gold lettering that spelled out “OSNC,” which stood for Ocean Steamship Navigation Company, as well as lettering that read “R.M.S. Titanic.”
But the menu was “subjected to the icy North Atlantic waters,” so some of these features have been erased, according to Henry Aldridge and Son Ltd., the auction house that sold the menu on Saturday in southwest England.
The menu resurfaced this summer in a 1960s photo album that belonged to a community historian in Nova Scotia. How it ended up in the historian’s possession is unclear. Several ships were dispatched from Nova Scotia to recover bodies, and some of the Titanic’s 1,500 victims were buried there.
The $102,000 purchase price exceeded the pre-auction estimate of around $86,000, reports the New York Times’ Derrick Bryson Taylor.
“The prices reflect the ongoing interest in the most famous liner of all time and the stories behind her passengers and crew,” says Andrew A. Aldridge, the managing director of the auction house, to Artnet’s Adam Schrader. “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.”
Other menus from the Titanic have survived, but most are from April 14—the last day of meals before the ship sank. In 2015, a first-class dinner menu from April 14 sold for $118,000 at an auction in Texas. At a different auction that year, a first-class lunch menu sold for $88,000.
The auction house, which has a department dedicated to Titanic artifacts, also sold a first-class deck blanket that was recovered from a lifeboat. The blanket had a green, brown and russet plaid pattern on one side, while a navy and cream pattern covered the reverse side. It also featured an embroidered White Star Line logo in one corner. Per CBS News’ Alex Sundby, the blanket sold for around $117,500.
The auction also included a pocket watch that belonged to a Russian immigrant named Sinai Kantor, who did not survive the wreck. After his body was recovered, his personal belongings—including the watch—were returned to his wife, Miriam, who did survive the sinking. The family’s descendants had sold it in 2018.
The watch is missing its hands, but watermarks suggest it stopped at 2:25 a.m., about five minutes after the ship sank on April 15. It sold this week for about $119,000, making it the most expensive item in the auction.
“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,” Aldridge tells the Washington Post’s Justine McDaniel.