Story and photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet TM
Copyright all rights reserved
The irrepressible and indomitable Travelling Gourmet is flabbergasted by the…
MEMORABLE discovery of very OLD chocolate by the National Library of Australia. It is old, very old…120 years old to be exact!
Conservators at the NLA found the sweet treats from the personal collection of the famous Australian poet Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson. Banjo Paterson wrote ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and ‘The Man from Snowy River’. The precious tin of chocolates was found among the poet’s collection of diaries, newspaper clippings and poetry.
The chocolate was found in a souvenir chocolate tin that was given to soldiers by Queen Victoria during the Boer War. Six bars of Cadbury’s chocolate in their original wrapping were found still in very good condition.
According to conservator Jennifer Todd, ”There was quite an interesting smell when they were unwrapped, an old tin of chocolates, belonging to Banjo, with the chocolates still wrapped in the box.” AMAZING! The chocolate bar still had the old packaging made of straw and the silver foil wrapping still around the chocolate.
HM Queen Victoria personally commissioned the tins of chocolate to boost the morale of the Boer War troops during their battles, with ‘South Africa, 1900’ and ‘I wish you a happy New Year, Victoria RI’ inscribed on the tin with the Royal Emblem. The Second Boer War (11 October 1899 – 31 May 1902) was fought between the British Empire and two independent Boer states, the South African Republic (Republic of Transvaal) and the Orange Free State, over the Empire’s influence in South Africa.
Banjo Paterson (pictured) was believed to have bought the chocolate off soldiers during his daring stint as a war correspondent in South Africa. Cadbury UK created the historical chocolates for British troops when Buckingham Palace placed an order for 70,000 to 80,000 pound tins of cocoa that was to be paid out directly from the Queen’s own purse.
According to the Cadbury Brothers, ‘the cocoa must be made into a paste and sweetened ready for use under the rough and ready conditions of camp life’ and ‘the tins to be specially made and decorated.’
The collector’s tins became a popular item to trade, with some tins going for five to ten pounds on the front.
Apparently Banjo Paterson bought the chocolate tin from British troops in 1899 when he was a war correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in South Africa. Banjo later sent it back to Australia..
The new home of the 12o year old Chocolate is now the National Library of Australia as part of wider collection of Banjo Patterson’s personal items. Can I try some of the chocolate please???
I love Old Jamaica!
From the poem ‘The man from Snowy River” by Banjo Paterson
“He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko’s side,
Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,
Where a horse’s hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride,
The man that holds his own is good enough.