122-year-old tin of Boer War chocolate found in Immingham goes up for auction

Open tin of 122-year-old chocolate
The tins were originally sent to soldiers fighting in the Boer War by Queen Victoria Credit: Eddisons CJM

A 122-year-old tin of chocolate is being auctioned off after being discovered in an attic.

Made by Rowntree in York in 1899, the chocolate survived for over a century and had only one piece missing when it was found in Immingham, North Lincolnshire.

It is due to be sold at auction in Scunthorpe today, 20 September.

"The tins turn up quite often, but it's incredibly rare to find one that still contains the chocolate," said Paul Cooper, of auctioneers Eddisons.

"It was found in a box of junk in a recent attic clearout, and is believed to have been stored away many years ago by the vendor's late husband whose grandfather fought in the Boer War."

The tins don't carry the manufacturer's name after a disagreement with the Queen Credit: Eddisons CJM

The chocolate has a controversial history. Commissioned by Queen Victoria to send to troops fighting in the Boer War in South Africa, none of the country's big chocolate makers wanted to produce it.

Rowntree, Cadbury and Fry were all owned by Quakers – pacifists opposed to the war – and did not want to be seen to be profiting from the fighting.

They eventually decided to make the chocolate and donate it free of charge, but to send it in unbranded tins.

It was a decision which angered the Queen, who wanted the soldiers to know they were getting the best British chocolate. A compromise was reached, which meant the chocolate was stamped with the manufacturer's name - including the tin up for auction - but the tins stayed unbranded.

Mr Cooper said the chocolate itself is inedible. "I don't think I'd be tempted to give it a go," he said. "The experts say it doesn't actually become hazardous, but loses its flavour, texture and taste."

The tin is expected to fetch £100-£200 in the online auction.