This unused ticket to the launch of the Titanic in 1911 is expected to sell for as much as $70,000 at an auction scheduled for April 15, the 100th anniversary of the liner's sinking. The value is so high because the ticket is the only one of its kind known to exist in its untorn condition.
It's prime time for Titanic memorabilia: We've already talked about the huge Guernsey's auction that's offering one big batch of 5,500 artifacts retrieved from the bottom of the Atlantic, and the RR Auction that's selling 180 lots of Titanic items, piece by piece. A third sale, organized by the Bonhams auction house, is set for April 15, the 100th anniversary of the luxury liner's sinking.
"The interest in the Titanic far surpasses the sinking or wreck of any other ship, making it a historical 'bookmark,' Gregg Dietrich, Bonhams' maritime consultant, said in a pre-sale announcement. "This finely curated auction is completely dedicated to the finest and rarest Titanica that has come to market recently."
The Bonhams sale, "RMS Titanic: 100 Years of Fact and Fiction," will take place at the firm's Madison Avenue location in New York. The high-profile items include:
- An unused perforated ticket to the Titanic's launch from its Belfast shipyard in May 1911, almost a year before the fatal trans-Atlantic voyage. Bonhams says this is the only untorn ticket to the launch event that has come to light. After the launch, the Titanic went through a months-long process of installing the ship's engines and fitting out its interior. Even though this ticket was for the launch rather than the doomed voyage itself, Bonhams expects it to fetch a price ranging up to $70,000.
- A two-page handwritten account of the tragedy by the captain of the Carpathia, the ships that picked up the Titanic's survivors. Estimated price: $90,000 to $120,000.
- A first-class dinner menu that was retrieved either from Titanic's wreckage or from one of the bodies pulled out of the water. The menu is valued at $25,000 to $35,000.
- Props from movies about the Titanic, including the ship's bell that was rung in the 1958 film "A Night to Remember" (pre-sale estimate: $10,000 to $15,000) as well as a reproduction of the "Heart of the Ocean" necklace made famous in James Cameron's 1997 version of "Titanic" (pre-sale estimate: $400 to $600).
Some of the postcards being offered for sale could go for as little as $250. Online bids are being accepted, but if these items are still too pricey, you can always browse through the Titanic trinkets available through RMS Titanic Inc.'s online store.
Update for 11:20 p.m. ET: Some commenters got the impression that the ticket being sold was for the 1912 maiden voyage rather than the 1911 launch from the shipyard, so I've added a few phrases in an attempt to head off that confusion.
More about the Titanic:
- Astrophysicist gets 'Titanic' director to tweak the sky
- 10 reasons for the Titanic tragedy
- Titanic's legacy: a fascination with disasters
- New images of Titanic shipwreck revealed
- PhotoBlog: More amazing pictures from the site
- Last lunch menu from Titanic sells for $120,000
- Events mark 100th anniversary of Titanic's sinking
- Slideshow: Titanic Belfast museum makes debut
- Full Titanic wreck site mapped for first time
- Cosmic Log archive on the Titanic
Alan Boyle is msnbc.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter or adding Cosmic Log's Google+ page to your circle. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for other worlds.