120-year-old chocolate found in Australian poet's papers

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Dec. 24 (UPI) -- Staff members at the National Library of Australia said they were stunned when they found a 120-year-old box of chocolate hidden in papers of the late poet and journalist A.B. "Banjo" Paterson.

They were was going through the recently acquired papers of the Australian poet when they stumbled on the souvenir tin filled with chocolate. The chocolate still was in its straw packaging and silver foil wrapping.


Staffers were unpacking the contents of a box with Paterson's papers so they could be digitized. The tins were commissioned by Britain's Queen Victoria and sent to soldiers in South Africa during the Boer War around 1900 as a gift to the troops.

It is believed Paterson most likely bought the chocolate from one of the soldiers while working as a war correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

"There was quite an interesting smell when they were unwrapped," National Library of Australia conservator Jennifer Todd said Tuesday. "[It was] an old tin of chocolates, belonging to Banjo, with the chocolates still wrapped in the box."


Paterson never referenced the chocolate bar in his writing, but the commemorative chocolate tins became a trading item at the front.

Paterson served as a war correspondent in South Africa for nearly a year starting in October 1899 before returning to Australia. His papers were passed down by his family after his death in 1941 before the library donation in 2019.

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