Lion Heart Photographs

On the afternoon of April 14, 1912, first-class Titanic passengers lunched on a sumptuous array of corned beef, Chicken à la Maryland, and fillet of brill. Approximately 12 hours later, the “unsinkable” ship collided with an iceberg; a mere three hours after that, it sank into the Atlantic.

Among the 705 survivors, a lifeboat filled with wealthy voyagers remained. One of its individuals had saved the menu from the previous day’s afternoon meal. Now, 103 years after the Titanic’s sinking and 30 years after its wreckage was found, the rare document is up for online auction. Its seller, Lion Heart Autographs, expects the menu to fetch as much as $70,000. 

The menu is one of two or three such documents that are thought to have survived the Titanic’s sinking. It originally belonged to Abraham Lincoln Salomon, a well-off New York City businessman who escaped the Titanic via a lifeboat known as “Lifeboat No.1.”

Newspapers dubbed Lifeboat No. 1 the "Money Boat” because the craft was not filled to capacity, yet it quickly rowed away from the foundering ship without rescuing any additional passengers. Rumors swirled that one of its members, the Scottish baronet Sir Cosmo Edmund Duff Gordon, had bribed rowers to do so. Others in the Money Boat included Duff Gordon’s wife, Lady Lucy Christiana, who founded Lucile Ltd., a famous women’s fashion label; her secretary, Laura Mabel Francatelli; Charles Emil Henry Stengel, a leather manufacturer; and 7 crew members.

And though $70,000 is a steep price to pay for a historical document, it’s eerily fascinating to learn little things—like the beer the Titanic’s passengers drank—that somehow humanize the tragedy in a way documentaries and dusty tomes don’t.