Kate Winslet's memorabilia brings Titanic prices at auction

On this day in history, back in 1912, an 'unsinkable' ship was completed and set off on its maiden voyage.

The fate of the ship, which was carrying millionaires and members of the aristocracy, is now famous, and at no time were people more enthralled by the event than when James Cameron released his 1998 film.

The movie tells the story of fictional lovers Jack and Rose, played by Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet, passengers from third class and first class respectively. When the ship hits an iceberg, Rose refuses a chance of a place on a lifeboat to stay with Jack.

Cameron's film was the sensation of the year, both financially (as with the recent Avatar) and at the Oscars.

It won a total of 11 awards including Best Picture and Best Director, as well as receiving three nominations including a Best Actress award for Winslet, who has recently split from her film director husband Sam Mendes.

The Oscars and other major award ceremonies are of course very significant in terms of collectibles.

Earlier this month, there was great excitement when the newly award-winning Sandra Bullock put some of her dresses from The Blind Side up for auction.

A particularly intimate item of clothing from one Golden Globe winner, a certain Marilyn Monroe, is also currently available for sale.

In the extreme case, an actual Oscar can be worth a huge amount.

Vivien Leigh's Oscar for Gone With The Wind brought a staggering $563,000 in 1993, though there are now more restrictions on their sale.

Not everyone will realise the value associated with material from the real Titanic, however.

In 2005, for example, Bonhams sold a picture frame, made from Titanic driftwood by Bertram T King of the SS Minia, who helped save survivors.

It brought $16,450, whilst a rare original White Star Line Titanic Return Poster (cancelled when she did not return) brought $28,200.

Titanic Third Class Menu
Titanic Third Class Menu

Perhaps most remarkable of all was a menu of the meals for third class passengers on board. It survived in the handbag of Sarah Roth, a Third Class Passenger, who was rescued by the Carpathia in lifeboat C. This brought $44,650.

In a later sale even that was topped, with the sale of a deckchair from the Titanic. It had been handed to a photographer as a souvenir just before the doomed ship took its naval voyage, and is unique in surviving. The winning bidder paid $77,000.

As we noted last year, however, perhaps the most poignant item of such memorabilia to be sold at auction is the key to the Titanic's binocular cupboard, which might have aided the crew in seeing the iceberg coming in time had it not been accidentally taken off the ship by a transferred sailor. This sold for £90,000 in 2008.

With the death in 2009 of the last remaining Titanic survivor, Millvina Dean, memorabilia and especially autographs relating to survivors of the voyage are quickly increasing in value.


Images: Bonhams (Menu) and Chrisa Hickey (Kate Winslet)

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