Cumbria

Carlisle tin containing chocolate survives 118 years

Chocolate in 118-year-old tin Image copyright Eddisons CJM
Image caption The chocolate was sent by Queen Victoria to cheer up troops fighting in the Boer War in South Africa

A 118-year-old tin of chocolate sent by Queen Victoria to fighting soldiers has been discovered in a cupboard.

The tin, made by Hudson Scott and Sons in Carlisle in 1900, is one of a batch sent to troops in the Boer War.

Auctioneer Paul Cooper said the gift was ridiculed by French cartoonists but soldiers loved the Queen's present so much many sent it home unopened.

The tin came to light after a World War One chocolate gift tin was auctioned in June.

"After reading about that a pensioner in London contacted us to say she had even older chocolate," Mr Cooper said.

She had kept unsold souvenirs and collectables when her shop closed 25 years ago.

"She dug into a cupboard and found the Boer War tin - with the chocolate still inside," he said.

Image copyright Eddisons CJM
Image caption Although some bars were eventually marked with the companies names, the tins never were

It is "probably the most controversial chocolate ever made", Scunthorpe auction house Eddisons CJM said.

In 1899, Queen Victoria paid for the gift tin to be sent to every soldier to cheer them up.

However, chocolate makers Cadbury, Fry and Rowntree were pacifist Quakers and opposed the war.

They worried about being seen to profit from the conflict or the reputational damage should they refuse to comply. So they initially donated the chocolate for free, in unbranded tins.

However, the Queen insisted the troops knew they were getting British chocolate and the firms backed down, marking some bars.

The tins were never branded.

Slight differences meant the auction house had "been able to identify this tin as one of those ordered by Cadbury from Hudson Scott and made in Carlisle in 1899", Mr Cooper said.

It is to be auctioned on Tuesday.

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