Titanic menu, JFK limo plates sold in Texas auction

DALLAS (REUTERS) - A menu from the last dinner served to first-class passengers aboard the doomed Titanic before the luxury ocean liner sank in 1912 fetched US$118,750 (S$168,000) at auction on Saturday.

Meanwhile, a pair of licence plates from the limousine that drove President John F. Kennedy through downtown Dallas when he was assassinated on Nov 22, 1963, sold for US$100,000.

The Titanic menu was among a rare collection of surviving items from the sunken ship that were up for bidding at Dallas-based Heritage Auctions' sale of political and Americana memorabilia.

Both the menu and the licence plates were sold to collectors who requested anonymity.

Auction house officials said the Titanic item was the only known menu in existence from the April 14, 1912, dinner, where well-to-do passengers were served oysters, filet mignon, roast duckling and other delicacies, topped off with Waldorf pudding and peaches in chartreuse jelly.

An anonymous collector put the menu up for auction.

Five businessmen wrote their addresses on it while sharing a dinner table the night before the ship sank. Four of the five survived the disaster, according to the auction house.

The Titanic foundered in the Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912, after striking an iceberg during its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York. Some 1,500 people lost their lives.

A recently discovered distress telegram that Western Union sent to the Titanic's owner in New York failed to sell. "Sinking fast - come to our assistance," read the message, which the company said never arrived.

The licence plates from Kennedy's limousine had been tossed in the trash at a Cincinnati company that retrofitted the vehicle after the assassination. Company owner Willard Hess retrieved them and stored them between two books on a shelf.

Hess' daughter, Jane Walker, inherited the plates and kept them in a kitchen drawer for decades.

"I was aware of their significance," said Walker, who offered the plates for auction. "On occasion, I would take them out and show them to friends."