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Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Incredible: Biscuit that survived the Titanic sells for more than $33,000

An artefact of the world's most famous sunken ship has brought new meaning to the phrase "tough cookie."

An English biscuit saved by James Fenwick, a passenger on the Carpathia vessel that saved Titanic passengers at sea, has been sold to a Greek collector for US$23,000, or about NZ$33,800. The Spillers and Bakers cracker was kept intact in a Kodak film envelope by Fenwick along with the following notation: "Pilot biscuit from Titanic lifeboat April 1912."
It was sold over the weekend by Henry Aldridge & Sonauction house, along with a photograph that purports to show the iceberg that caused the historic collision, which went for $32,200.
"You might say it's the cracker that took the biscuit," said Alan Aldridge, referencing a Britishism that uses "take the biscuit" to mean arriving at a pinnacle - similar to "take the cake."
Aldridge noted with a chuckle that while the 22.6 square centimetre artifact is "very much a human biscuit," Spillers and Bakers was known as a manufacturer of dog treats. The human goods they created were "nothing fancy"; they were generally used as emergency rations or sustenance during times of war.
In this case, the 103-year-old biscuit was part of a survival kit on one of the Titanic lifeboats. The Carpathia, after finally hearing a distress signal from the Titanic, steamed beyond its rated top speed for some 93 kilometres over four hours, only to discover the Titanic gone. The ship did manage to rescue some 700 passengers who had escaped in lifeboats.
"I couldn't imagine anything less appetising, but if you're in a rowing boat in the middle of the ocean, you'd certainly eat it with the rest of them," Aldridge said.
He explained that the biscuit has survived all these years because it's similar in composition to a hot cross bun.
"If you get one of those and leave it out, it will dry and it will fossilise," Aldridge said. "If you left a slice of bread out, it would go green and start to rot, but hot cross buns don't, and neither do these biscuits."

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