Auction News

Valuable Titanic artefacts show tragic ship still resonates


A blanket, watch, and menu that went down with the Titanic should raise 10s of thousands of pounds at a sale in Wiltshire, UK, this weekend.

The story of RMS Titanic, the supposedly “unsinkable” ship, continues to resonate in the collectibles market.

The White Star liner sank after striking an iceberg on her maiden voyage in the North Atlantic on April 15, 1912. At least 1,500 people died as the ship went down without enough lifeboats to save its crew and passengers.

The human stories of that terrible night are vividly brought to life in the November 11th sale in Devises.

Shelter from the cold

A White Star deck blanket is tipped to realise £70,000 to £100,000 with an opening bid of £42,000. The green, brown, and russet tartan blanket was recovered from a lifeboat and is traced to Frederick Toppin.

This blanket went from deck chair to lifeboat to rescue ship to sale room.

He was the White Star New York Assistant General Manager who helped Titanic survivors. He acquired the blanket as he greeted the rescue ship Carpathia on the New York dock front.

The auctioneers, Henry Aldridge & Sons, describe the blanket as: “quite simply one of the rarest three dimensional objects we have seen.”

A Jewish tragedy

A passenger’s pocket watch is listed with an estimate of £50,000 to £80,000.

Sinai Kantor’s watch has Hebrew numerals.

Owned by Sinai Kantor, it is a key item of Judaica from the disaster that was a major tragedy for the Jewish community. The early years of the 20th century saw large numbers of Jews fleeing the antisemitism of Tsarist Russia for the United States.

Sinai, 34, and his wife, Miriam, 24, were travelling from Vitebsk in Russia. They boarded the Titanic at Southampton with a plan to set up as dentists in the Bronx.

Miriam was saved, but Sinai drowned. His body was recovered along with some personal effects, including this Swiss-made open-face silver-on-brass watch.

Luxury and opulence

With an opening bid of £30,000, a dinner menu from April 11 is predicted to realise £50,000 to £70,000.

A first-class dinner menu shows the luxurious conditions aboard the doomed liner.

First class passengers sat down to a sumptuous dinner as they steamed away from Queenstown (now Cobh in Ireland).

The seawater damage to the document is a stark reminder of the tragedy towards which they were headed.

The auctioneers believe this to be a unique survival from that night’s oppulent meal that included squab a la Godard, Spring Lamb, and Tournado of Beef a la Victoria.

The menu was in the collection of Canadian community historian Len Stephenson of Dominion, Nova Scotia.

Canada connection

Many of those who died in the disaster were buried in Nova Scotia, which is home to some of the best collections of artefacts.

The most paid for a Titanic artefact is the $1.8 million realised in 2013 by a violin that may been played (the claim is disputed by some) by bandmaster Wallace Hartley as the ship sank.

There is a seemingly unending huge appetite for items from the Titanic tragedy, particularly those, like these, that illustrate the many human tragedies of that night.

Just Collecting