DALLAS – A menu from the last dinner served to first-class passengers aboard the Titanic before it sank in 1912 is among a few surviving artifacts from the ill-fated ship’s journey that were to be auctioned off on Saturday.
The menu was up for bid in a sale that included a pair of license plates from the limousine that drove President John F. Kennedy through downtown Dallas when he was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963.
The opening bid on the license plates was $40,000, while pre-bidding on the menu reached $44,000 on Friday, according to Dallas-based Heritage Auctions.
The menu featured a selection of oysters, filet mignon, roast duckling, squab and other delicacies, topped off with desserts such as Waldorf pudding or peaches in chartreuse jelly.
Besides the menu, other Titanic relics up for sale include a recently discovered distress telegram sent by Western Union to the ship’s ownership company in New York informing officials that the Titanic had struck an iceberg and was in trouble, the auction house said. “Sinking fast — come to our assistance,” it read.
The luxury ocean liner foundered in the Atlantic Ocean on after striking an iceberg on April 15, 1912, during its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York. Some 1,500 people lost their lives.
Officials with White Star Line claimed in a congressional inquiry that the company never received notice of distress from the Titanic. Opening bid for the telegram is $20,000, the auction house said.
The items “shed light on two aspects of the story that have long been part of the lore of the Titanic,” said Tom Slater, director of Americana for Heritage Auctions.
Heritage officials said it is uncertain whether the telegram was the delivered version or a retained copy. An anonymous collector of Titanic memorabilia has owned it for about 15 years, according to Heritage officials.
The menu was put up for auction by an anonymous collector. It is signed by five businessmen who wrote their addresses on the menu while sharing a dinner table on April 14, 1912. Four of the five survived the disaster, according to the auction house.
The license plates from Kennedy’s limousine were tossed in the trash at a Cincinnati company that retrofitted the vehicle after the assassination. When new plates arrived, the old plates were discarded, the auction house said.
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