Traverse City Record-Eagle

CNHI Special Projects

April 16, 2012

Ticket to Titanic maiden voyage sold at NY auction

NEW YORK — A New York auction house has sold an original ticket to the 1912 launch of the Titanic and a dinner menu from the ill-fated ocean liner, plus items recovered from the wreckage miles underwater.

On the block Sunday at Bonhams were various Titanic remnants offered to mark the centennial of its sinking.

INTERACTIVE: See Titanic artifiacts up for auction

The historic admission ticket fetched $56,250, including the auction house premium. The menu, touting choices like Surrey capon and ox tongue and beef sirloin with horseradish, sold for $31,250.

Both went to private American buyers, said 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 — was sent to Titanic's sister ship, the Olympic, about three hours before the Titanic sank just days into its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, 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, Dietrich said.

"But interest in Titanic artifacts remains strong," he said, noting that Bonhams' Manhattan auction room was filled Sunday with about 60 people, in addition to bidders on the phone and online.

He said many items went to buyers collecting Titanic artifacts for years.

The most curious lot of the day, Dietrich said, sold for $12,500: three rivets and a piece of porthole glass recovered from the wreckage in the North Atlantic near Newfoundland during expeditions starting in 1987.

Bonhams could not immediately provide a total haul for Sunday's auction.

The biggest sale of Titanic lore has yet to come: 5,000 artifacts with a value of hundreds of millions of dollars owned by RMS Titanic Inc.

A New York auction planned for April was put on hold because of talks with various parties for the possible purchase of the collection, ranging from passengers' personal possessions and parts of the hull to china and the ship's fittings.

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