'Titanic' memorabilia still strong


One batch of mementos of the strinken liner held by a US company has been valued at more than €144m, while items in Britain and Ireland are also fetching handsome sums, writes MICHAEL PARSONS

IS IT WORTH investing in Titanic memorabilia? The truth is, nobody knows. The market for mementos may be red-hot now but will public interest in the disaster persist after the intensity of this weekend’s centenary commemorations fades? Will the ship continue to fascinate and enthral future generations? If so, the prices paid for artefacts associated with the sinking will continue to appreciate.

The ownership of the more than 5,000 items salvaged from the wreck of the Titanic (valued at $190 million or €144.4m) is currently under negotiation in the United States. The company that owns the collection (which was exhibited at Citywest in Dublin two years ago) is seeking a single buyer for all the lots.

But there is no shortage of other Titanic-related items surfacing at auctions, including the forthcoming “history” sales at Adams next Wednesday, Whyte’s next Saturday and Mealy’s on April 25th.

Two weeks ago in England, a menu for the final lunch served aboard the Titanic sold for £76,000 (€92,028) at auctioneers Henry Aldridge and Son in Devizes, Wiltshire. The menu was taken off the ship by Ruth Dodge, a first-class American passenger, who had slipped it into her handbag. She managed to get on to a lifeboat and survived.

The menu, crucially dated April 14th, 1912, featured dishes include “Cockie Leekie”, “Fillets of Brill”, “Grilled Mutton Chops”, “Corned Ox Tongue” and “Custard Pudding”.

Last year, Aldridge’s sold a set of keys for a gents’ lavatory (first class) on the Titanic’s D Deck for £43,000 (€52,070).

Tomorrow in New York, Bonhams is holding an auction titled “RMS Titanic: 100 Years of Fact and Fiction”. Among the more than 80 lots is an unused ticket (numbered 193) to the launch of the ship in Belfast on May 31st, 1911, with the perforated admission stub attached. Bonhams said the ticket was “the only one known to exist with the card still attached” and the estimate is $50,000-$70,000 (€38,000-€53,000).

Meanwhile, a stub of one of the used tickets to the launch event has turned up at Drum’s Auctioneers in Malahide, Co Dublin. Auctioneer Denis Drum said, “The lead item,” in his auction next Sunday is, “the perforated admission stub (Number 461) for the Launch of the Titanic on May 31st, 1911,” which is estimated at €5,000-€7,000.

More contemporary mementos are available in the form of three new oil paintings by Dublin artist Jonathan Barry who is best-known as a book illustrator. The trilogy – all for sale – consists of Titanic’s Tragic Moment (€2,400); Titanic Signals The Californian (€2,400); and Titanic Starts Her Descent (€2,700).

The artist can be contacted at 087-6617280 or, via email, jonathanbarry@eircom.net