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Fake Boer War Tin - 1899


Fake Website Posting

Could a museum entry be more wrong on more levels than this, from the huge British Science and Society Library which posted this page on a Boer War tin under "TRADE & INDUSTRY - FOOD & DRINK INDUSTRIES - FOOD PRESERVATION on behalf of the British Science Museum.

It features a Boer War tin chocolate box, sent by Queen Victoria, for Christmas 1899, to all her serving soldiers, who had been three months into fighting the Boers in South Africa.

Contrary to the caption, the tin was only issued once, in 1899, not 1900, 1901, nor 1902.

It is also not a specimen of "tinned food," as the title maintains, nor "foodstuff" as the subsequent caption claims.

It contained only chocolate - a treat. The experts at the Science and Picture Library apparently did not know this as they fail to mention it.

Nor the British Science Museum staff which presumably passed on their information about the tin to the Picture Library people...

So they wrongly use this loose-lidded tin as an illustration of British food preservation technology, evolving from the corked sealer perfected by Nicholas Appert in 1810, and the subsequent British vacuum tin cans of Donkin and Hall...

Nothing could be further from the truth.

By the logic of its own entry the Boer War tin is not by any stretch a "specimen of early tinned food." Tinned food was in use a century earlier. The British Arctic Franklin Expedition of the 1840s used tinned food.

There is another big difference.

The tin can technology of heating food and preserving it in airtight containers has nothing whatsoever to do with the Boer War tin.

It is not, as the entry purports, an 1899 evolution of the British 1811 Donkin and Hall vacuum tin, nor the British canning industry.

The chocolate it contained was not heated to a high temperature to kill bacteria; neither was it in an airtight container.

In fact the chocolate was cold boxed and the tin was a very rickety affair with a loose fitting hinged lid.

The tinned food described in the historical entry, was soldered shut to preserve it and keep out the bacteria, etc.

The British Army expected its chocolate to last but a few weeks before it would be devoured by the soldiers. There was no intention to box it in an airtight container aimed at preservation.

In fact when all is said and done, the Boer War tin illustrates exactly the opposite to how the Library used it in support of an article on early tinned food preservation. It shows the bacterial infestation that takes place when tins were NOT soldered shut.

If you ate the chocolate the tin contained today you would probably die a convulsive death from any number of causes associated with eating old chocolate stored in a very poor container that has been infested with all manner of bacteria.

Many soldiers did not eat the chocolate in 1900 but preserved it as a souvenir of the war.

The specimen here is typical of how this chocolate survives today. You eat it at your own peril...

Hardly a good example of British tinned food preservation expertise.

So we advise you not to follow the Library's suggestion to "Buy this image as a decorative print" as "A Specimen of Early Tinned Food, c. 1899-1902."

Can you imagine how many other heritage howlers you can find in this collection?

"With over 50,000 images digitized, and dedicated staff available to help you research others, you are sure to find the right image."

With such a creative staff this is definitely the place to go to find rare pictures of the true cross, genuine UFOs, real Sasquatches, as well as the Ghost of Christmas Past, and the last virgin in Hollywood.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

The most famous memento from the Boer War was the chocolate tin that Queen Victoria sent to her soldier boys in South Africa.

"I wish you a happy New Year - Victoria" it said on the lid.

Most chocolate was eaten in the war zone because treats like this were entirely missing from the military rations the men were forced to eat for months on end.

Tins with chocolate in them have survived but all in terrible deteriorated condition, which is not surprising considering the chocolate has been exposed to air, smoke, and vapours of many kind, and temperature extremes as well, for over 100 years.

These tins are not rare to find as tens of thousands were issued by Rowntree and Cadbury.

But ones in mint condition, like this one, are. It has been framed since 1900 and contains its original chocolate.


Chocolate Tin, Boer War - 1899
Orig. tin - Size - 9 x 15 cm
Found - Jordan, ON

Go to Chocolate Tin
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