Water-stained menu for Titanic's first class restaurant which shows rich diners feasted on oysters, lamb and mallard duck before doomed cruise liner sank goes on sale for £60,000
31st October 2023
31st October 2023
A water-stained menu for the Titanic's first-class restaurant - which shows rich diners feasted on oysters, lamb and mallard duck before the doomed cruise liner sank - is going on sale for £60,000.
The menu, thought to have been recovered from the body of a Titanic victim, was for the first-class restaurant for the evening of April 11, 1912.
The vessel had just left its last port of call, Queenstown (Cobh) in Ireland, and was travelling across the Atlantic when the wealthy passengers sat down to a feast.
The never-before-seen menu shows the likes of millionaires JJ Astor, Benjamin Guggenheim, Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon and the 'Unsinkable' Molly Brown indulged in oysters, Squab a la Godard, Spring Lamb, Tournedo of Beef a la Victoria, mallard duck and Apricots Bourdaloue.
Only a handful of Titanic menus are known to exist today - but those are for the night of the tragedy when passengers had them in their jacket or coat pockets.
This menu is the only one known to exist for April 11 - four days before the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank with the loss of 1,522 lives.
It is unclear exactly how the item made it off the liner but the water damage suggests it is likely to have been recovered from the body of a victim.
It belonged to historian Len Stephenson who was from Nova Scotia, Canada, where all the bodies were taken to in the wake of the disaster.
Mr Stephenson died in 2017 and the menu has only recently been found by his daughter Mary Anita when she went through his stored belongings.
She showed it to a local museum who advised her to take it to specialist auctioneers Henry Aldridge & Son of Devizes, Wiltshire.
It is now coming up for sale with a pre-sale estimate of £60,000.
Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said: 'This is a previously unrecorded menu for the first class restaurant on Titanic.
Nobody knew Len Stephenson had it, including his family.
'After he passed away his possessions were left to his family but they put them into storage.
'About six months ago his daughter and his son-in-law, Allen, felt the time was right to go through his belongings. As they did they found this menu in an old photo album.
'Len was a very well thought-of historian in Nova Scotia which has strong connections with the Titanic.
'The body recovery ships were from Nova Scotia and so all the victims were taken back there.
'Sadly, Len has taken the secret of how he acquired this menu to the grave with him.
'Len worked as a postmaster and when people came to the post office he talked to them and listened to their stories, collected old pictures and wrote letters for them.
'Given Nova Scotia's link to the Titanic and that it has signs of water damage, it is a fair assumption that it came from one of the victims.
'There are a handful of April 14 menus in existence but you just don't see menus from April 11. Most of them would have gone down with the ship.
'Whereas with April 14 menus, passengers would have still had them in their coat and jacket pockets from earlier on that fateful night and still had them when they were taken off the ship.
'Having spoken to the leading collectors of Titanic memorabilia globally and consulted with numerous museums with Titanic collections we can find no other surviving examples of a first class April 11 dinner menu.
This snapshot into dinner on the evening of April 11 illustrates the glamour and opulent culinary delights that Titanic's first-class passengers would have experienced.
'It is a remarkable survivor from the most famous Ocean liner of all time.'
The menu has an embossed red White Star Line burgee and would have originally shown gilt lettering depicting the initials OSNC (Ocean Steamship Navigation Company) alongside the lettering R.M.S. Titanic.
The menu measures 6¼ins by 4¼ins and will be sold on November 11.