Titanic launch ticket snapped up 100 years later
A New York auction house has sold an original ticket to the 1911 Belfast launch of the Titanic for over £35,000.
An original dinner menu from the ill-fated ocean liner, plus items recovered from the wreckage miles underwater, also went under the hammer at the same auction.
On the block at Bonhams in New York on Sunday were various Titanic remnants offered to mark the centennial of its sinking.
The historic admission ticket fetched $56,250 (£35,600), including the auction house premium. The rare ticket was for access to the launch of the Titanic into Belfast Lough on May 31, 1911.
It is unusual because it still has its perforated admission stub attached. It is numbered 193 and features the emblem of the Titanic's owners, the White Star Line, in the top right hand corner.
The menu, featuring choices such as the tongue of a castrated rooster and beef sirloin with horseradish, sold for $31,250 (£19,780).
Both went to private American buyers, confirmed Gregg Dietrich, Bonhams' maritime consultant.
He said one surprise at the auction was the comparatively low price paid for a telegraph that read: “We have struck an iceberg”.
That message – sold for $27,500 (£17,405) – was sent to Titanic's sister ship, the Olympic, about three hours before the Titanic sank just days into its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. Only about 700 of the luxury liner's more than 2,200 passengers survived.
One important item that did not sell is a handwritten account from the captain of the Carpathia that rescued the survivors, Mr Dietrich said.
“But interest in Titanic artefacts remains strong,” he said, noting that Bonhams' Manhattan auction room was filled with about 60 people, in addition to bidders on the phone and online.
He said many items went to buyers collecting Titanic artefacts for years.
The most curious lot of the day, he said, sold for $12,500 (£7,911): three rivets and a piece of porthole glass recovered from the wreckage in the North Atlantic near Newfoundland during expeditions started in 1987.
The biggest sale of Titanic lore has yet to come: 5,000 artefacts with a value of hundreds of millions of dollars owned by RMS Titanic Inc. A New York auction planned for this month was put on hold for talks with parties over the possible purchase of the collection, ranging from passengers' personal possessions to parts of the hull to china and ship fittings.
Titanic first touched water on May 31, 1911 when it was launched from the Harland and Wolff shipyard into Belfast Lough. The launch of the doomed ship, at that time the largest moving object in the world, was a source of great pride and celebration in its home city.
Thousands of cheering spectators lined the shores of Belfast Lough to watch as the massive hull slid slowly into the sea from its slipway.
It took a total of 62 seconds for the 882ft long vessel to complete the short journey.