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Cadbury Brothers

A short while ago a friend and I were talking about different periods in history and what had taken place. My friend is an intellectual fellow and well read so conversations with him are anything but trite. Something that he brought up and a subject that has been on my mind for some time as well is how do we know what we read as historical fact is indeed so. It’s all fine and well to read something in a book, accept it as accurate, then relating it to bored friends and family as historic fact. Naturally my friend was not suggesting that everything we know or think we know requires original documentation to be in our possession. However, once in a while this actually happens, though in the case I am writing about perhaps a rather a trivial bit of history.

While attending a show just prior to Christmas, 2013, I was about to leave empty handed, which as any collector will agree is a crying shame. On my way out a dealer was just opening a small cardboard box of odds and ends and removed a candy box from the Boer War era. These are getting harder and harder to find and even though I would have liked the condition to have been better I decided that I was not going home empty handed this day.

The box was not the best part of the transaction as inside there had been a letter which verified a story about the supplier of the chocolate that was in the original boxes to be gifted to the soldiers in South Africa. The dealer was aware of the letter’s significance and since I didn’t barter on the price of the box handed over the communication, which he had taken out moments before displaying the box for sale.

For years I have heard and read that George Cadbury had second thoughts about supplying the chocolate for the gift boxes based on religious grounds. I have never doubted this but as my friend’s earlier observations pointed out there were no documents in my possession to support the story. I have attached a photo of this letter, from Cadbury Brothers, to a fellow, Mr. Vincent Pollard, living in Pakistan at the time in answer to a question about the boxes themselves. While this was written after the fact it is from an official of the Cadbury Brothers Company outlining the story which has become legend and it is certainly is a one of a kind document in its own right.

I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

First is a view of the box that was the subject of the letter from Mr. Pollard to the Cadbury Company.

Two views of the letter, the first of the whole letter and then a closer view so that it can be read more easily.



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Good Morning Brian......

Yes that is a very interesting find......

For your information there has been a pamphlet published on the tins which shows up on our favorite auction site occasionally.....

"THE STORY OF THE QUEEN'S CHOCOLATE TIN" by Lenaid Kebar, Published in Durban S.A. 1997.....

It tells the story of the Cadbury, Fry's and Rowntrees tins, all three companies being owned by Quakers did not want to produce the tins......

The small size tins were made by Cadbury and the larger size were Fry and Rowntree.....

It has taken me a number of years but I have all three tins with their original contents..... The Cadbury's tin also had a picture of Queen Victory in it......

There were a total of 129,000 tins produced......


Edited by QSAMIKE
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Thanks for that information Mike and thanks too for your attached photo.

I believe you started a post a while back on these but darned if I could find it; I was intending to use my post in the form of a reply to yours.

Sometimes there is just so much information to sift through that posts seem "lost", even with the search option.

Thanks again.



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Thank you for a very interesting post. Because my collecting focus was elsewhere, I often gave up chances to buy Queen's chocolate tins, something I now regret. They are interesting relics of the Boer War and their content after chocolate (e.g. medals, letters) has sometimes turned them into miniature treasure chests.



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Most interesting letter, I have always wondered about the wisdom of chocolate for the Boer War as it must have quickly become liquid in the heat of the Veldt, however as Mervyn says untouched tins are quite rare and command a substantial premium.


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