Ever since the world's worst maritime disaster unfolded on the night of April 14, 1912, the story of the ill-fated ocean liner, RMS Titanic, has managed to capture the hearts and minds of generations of people. On May 1, 2005, Bonhams & Butterfields will bring together some of the most important and scarce artefacts from the doomed vessel for sale at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts.
The only known example of a 3rd Class Menu Postcard from the Titanic is perhaps the rarest of items to be sold. Detailing the meals available on April 14, 1912 on one side of the card, the reverse carries pencil annotations of the passengers on board: those lost and saved. This incredible artefact survived the disaster in the handbag of 3rd Class Passenger, Sarah Roth, who was rescued by the Carpathia in lifeboat C. Estimate US $40,000-50,000.
An original poster prepared by White Star Line's New York office to promote the return Titanic trip from New York on April 20, 1912 is also highly collectible. Following the disaster, the posters were withdrawn and surviving examples are extremely rare. Estimate US $20,00-29,000.
The day that time stood still
Perhaps one of the most fascinating items for sale is an 18-carat Gold Pocket Watch, which stopped ticking as disaster struck mid-Atlantic. The watch belonged to Miss Nora Keane, an Irish immigrant, living in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with her brothers and sisters. Following a four-month visit to her mother in Castle Connell, County Limerick, Nora decided to return on the maiden voyage of RMS Titanic, boarding at Queenstown as a 2nd Class passenger. She was rescued in lifeboat No.10. The watch was with her at the time, but suffered from water damage when the lifeboat passed under the ship's pump discharge. Its gilt face has some rust staining, but it is still expected to fetch US $4,900-6,800.
Ephemera relating to the disaster will encompass letters from passengers, theatre programmes from both sides of the Atlantic of special charity performances to benefit Titanic Disaster charities, and even a collection of sheet music for particularly poignant tunes, such as, "Just as the Ship Went Down, A Song of the Sea" by Gibson & Adeler, "Nearer My God to Thee" by Bernard White and "That Dear Dear Ship Titanic" by Edward Tassie.
Tales of Moby Dick
Collectors fishing for non-Titanic related items are sure to find something to suit their tastes. The May 1 Sale affords true connoisseurs of marine works of art the opportunity to bid on a rare Edward Burdett Scrimshawed Sperm Whale's Tooth, American, circa 1828.
Burdett is considered to be one of America's foremost scrimshaw artists and he is the earliest documented engraver of pictorial sperm-whale teeth. He was born in Nantucket in 1805, the son of a sea captain and went to sea at the age of 17. Aged 28, he met an untimely death when as first mate of the ship Montano he became entangled in a harpoon line and was dragged by the whale overboard and drowned.
The Whale's Tooth, which Bonhams & Butterfields will sell, is decorated with a lively whaling scene of the Daniel IV surrounded by six whales and five whaling long boats on one side, while the reverse, entitled "Daniel, the Fourth, London, Elizabeth", depicts the Daniel IV on fire with flames inset with red wax and the Elizabeth in the background. Measuring 18.5cm, the tooth should attract bids of US $25,000-35,000.
The Ship's Bridge Bell from RMS Queen Elizabeth 1938, is also sure to prove popular. It has been consigned from a private collection and is estimated at US S$4,000-6,000
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