The discovery of a tin containing 121-year-old chocolate in Norfolk sent a ripple of excitement through the Archive this week as an identical tin (minus the chocolate!) resides in the Epsom College Archive collection. The tins of chocolate were produced to lift the spirits of those fighting in the Boer Wars and were presented to each soldier on New Year’s Day, 1900, as a gift from HM Queen Victoria.
An article from the Northern Weekly Gazette, 16 December 1899 publicises the exciting news:
“The Queen’s Christmas Gift to Her Soldiers”
“Her Majesty’s thoughtful present of a box of chocolate to each of her soldiers and sailors engaged in the South Africa campaign will be a beautiful, as well as a highly acceptable gift. The box measures seven inches in length, six inches in breadth, and one inch and a quarter in thickness, and will contain four layers of chocolate, which may be eaten as a sweetmeat, or taken in the form of a beverage. In shape the box is between the square and the oval, suitable for carrying in the pocket. It will constitute a valuable souvenir of the war, being chastely decorative in colour and design. Altogether seven colours are employed in its ornamentation. The body of the box is gold, and the lid red, with gold border, while the lettering and the crown are gold, and the face of her Majesty is in blue and grey. The medallion is in gold and embossed to about the thickness of a florin. When the chocolate has been consumed a special value will attach to the box, the gold medallion being easily detachable to serve the purpose of a medal.”
The tin in the Epsom College collection was bought in a junk shop in Witsand, South Africa by OE Peter Dodd (Rosebery 1943-1947) and donated some years ago to the Archive for interest and safe keeping.
We may not have the chocolate inside our tin but we still have a little piece of history.
To read more about the Norfolk discovery click here: