A chocolate bar gifted to iconic poet Banjo Paterson more than a century ago by Queen Victoria has been discovered in extraordinarily good condition.
A chocolate bar gifted to iconic poet Banjo Paterson more than a century ago by Queen Victoria has been discovered in extraordinarily good condition.

Poet's 120-year-old chocolates from Queen found

Staff from the National Library of Australia have made an incredible discovery dating back to the Boer War involving one of the nation's most iconic poets.

The 120-year-old Cadbury chocolate bar that belonged to Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson was found intact and with minimal decay.

Library conservators found the treat hidden at the bottom of a box filled with Paterson's poetry, diaries and newspaper clippings.

"There was quite an interesting smell when they were unwrapped," National Library of Australia conservator Jennifer Todd told the ABC.

"(It was) an old tin of chocolates, belonging to Banjo, with the chocolates still wrapped in the box."

The chocolates were sent to war troops in South Africa in a tin container. Picture: Craig Allen/ABC News
The chocolates were sent to war troops in South Africa in a tin container. Picture: Craig Allen/ABC News

The six-finger bar was still wrapped in the original silver foil and contained the old straw packaging inside.

The souvenir tin had "South Africa 1900" and "I wish you a happy New Year, Victoria RI" inscribed on it.

In 1899, Queen Victoria decided she wanted to send a gift of chocolate to her troops serving in South Africa.

She commissioned three major British chocolate manufacturers, Fry, Cadbury and Rowntree, to produce the goods and it has been documented Queen Victoria personally paid for the manufacturing of the tin boxes.

A.B.
A.B. "Banjo" Paterson never ate the chocolate gifted by Queen Victoria. Picture: Supplied

It is estimated that 123,000 tins were sent by the end of 1900.

However, while intended for the Boer War troops, the gift became a bargaining tool for some.

Paterson travelled to South Africa in 1899 as special war correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and it is speculated that he purchased the tin from serving troops then sent it home to preserve it from the heat.

He returned home to Australia later that year.

Originally published as Banjo's 120yo chocolates from Queen found


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