No-one who attended what turned out to be the final first-class luncheon on the Titanic is likely to have gone away hungry.
The meal featured corned beef, dumplings, grilled lamb chops, and other delights such as veal and ham pie and a cheese board consisting of eight separate varieties. There was chilled Munich lager to wash it all down.
This week it was announced that menu from the lunch, saved by a passenger who climbed aboard the so-called “money boat” lifeboat before the ocean liner went down, is to go on sale. Auctioneers estimate it will fetch between $50,000 and $70,000, but say the price could be higher.
“It’s a fascianting story,” David Lowenherz, the owner of New York-based Lion Heart Autographs, told The Independent. “These [menus] are very rare and very desirable.”
The Associated Press said Abraham Lincoln Salomon was one of a handful of first-class passengers who boarded the lifeboat – called the “money boat” or “millionaires’ boat” by the press because of unfounded rumours one of them had bribed seven crew members to quickly row the boat away from the sinking ship rather than rescue others.
The menu is signed on the back in pencil by another first-class passenger, Isaac Gerald Frauenthal, who escaped on another lifeboat. It is believed the two men had lunched together on April 14 1912.
Mr Salomon also took away a printed ticket from the Titanic’s opulent Turkish baths, which recorded a person’s weight when seated in a specially designed upholstered lounge chair. It bears the names of three of the five other first-class passengers with him on lifeboat one. One of four weighing-chair tickets known to exist, it is estimated to bring between $7500 and $10,000.
The third artefact is a letter written by Mabel Francatelli to Salomon on New York’s Plaza hotel stationery six months after the disaster.
She had climbed into lifeboat one with her employer, the aristocratic fashion designer Lucy Duff-Gordon and her Scottish husband, Lord Cosmo Duff-Gordon, who it was alleged bribed the crew to row them to safety in the boat that had a capacity of 40.
Mr Lowenherz said the Duff-Gordon were the only passengers to testify about the disaster to the British wreck commissioner’s inquiry.
The investigation found that they did not deter the crew from attempting to rescue other people but that others might have been saved if the boat had turned around.
Yet he said although the probe cleared them, Mr Duff-Gordon’s reputation within British society “was ruined”.
A letter by Lady Duff-Gordon grumbling about the “disgraceful” treatment they received from the press and public upon their return to England sold at an auction in Boston earlier this year for nearly $12,000.
“We do hope you have now quite recovered from the terrible experience,” Francatelli wrote to Salomon. “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.”
It is estimated this letter it will sell for between $4,000 and $6,000.
Lion Heart Autographs said the seller is the son of a man who was given the items by a direct descendant of one of the survivors of lifeboat on.
The last luncheon was not the final meal on the doomed ship. There was a subsequent dinner and Mr Lowenherz said he believed there was one menu from the meal in a museum.
The auction is to be held on September 30. News of the sale comes as Titanic buffs mark the 30th anniversary of the wreckage’s discovery at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
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