A Greek man is now the proud owner of probably the world’s most expensive, and stalest, biscuit. It survived the sinking of the Titanic thanks to one survivor, who sealed the biscuit for decades in an envelope.
The English biscuit was saved by a man named James Fenwick, who was rescued by the Carpathia after the Titanic sunk in the Atlantic in 1912, killing more than 1,500 people. He secured the biscuit in a Kodak film envelope with a note: “Pilot biscuit from Titanic lifeboat April 1912,” the Washington Post reported.
“I couldn’t imagine anything less appetizing, but if you’re in a rowing boat in the middle of the ocean, you’d certainly eat (the biscuit) with the rest of them,” said auctioneer Allen Aldridge.
The Spillers and Backers biscuit sold for $8,000 more than it was expected to fetch, $23,000, this weekend at the Henry Aldridge & Son auction house.
Though the company that made the Titanic artifact also made dog treats, the biscuit was actually intended for humans and was described as “nothing fancy.” The biscuit’s sole purpose was for survival, used as emergency rations during war time.
In fact, the biscuit was part of the survival kit on one of the Titanic’s lifeboats, which is how Fenwick came across it. The Carpathia arrived to rescue him and other surviving passengers after hearing the doomed ship’s distress signal and racing to the site.
When they arrived, the Titanic was already making its way to the bottom of the Atlantic, but rescued 700 people.
So how did this “nothing fancy” biscuit survive all these years? It’s engineered not to rot, Aldridge explained, and it’s very similar to a hot cross bun.
“If you get one of those and leave it out, it will dry and it will fossilize. 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.”
Two more remarkable Titanic artifacts were sold at the same auction alongside the biscuit. The first is a photograph that claims to have captured the very iceberg that sank the ocean liner, BBC added.
The picture was snapped by the chief steward of a steamer called the Prinz Adalbert, which passed by the iceberg the morning after the Titanic sank. The man who took the photo had no idea that the Titanic had sunk mere hours before and reported seeing red paint along its side, Sky News added.
The photograph sold for a bit more than the biscuit, at $32,000, alongside accompanying documents; that artifact also sold for more than was expected.
And finally, the auction resulted in the sale of the third-most valuable artifact from the Titanic — ever. The top two items are a violin, which raked in $1.5 million in 2013, and a plan of the ship, which someone purchased for $336,000 in 2011.
This newest item is a “loving cup,” which was presented by the “unsinkable” Molly Brown to the captain of the Carpathia, Arthur Rostron, who rescued her alongside Fenwick and his biscuit on that fateful day. Brown was on one of the last lifeboats to reach the Capathia.
The cup left the stale biscuit in the dust, selling for nearly $200,000 to a collector from the United Kingdom; it was originally expected to earn, at most, $92,000.
A ceremony for Captain Rostron and his crew was held a month after the sinking of the Titanic in New York. Each crew member was given a gold, silver, or bronze medal, according to their rank, Fox News added. The sterling silver cup presented to Rostron, which was paid with donations from wealthy survivors, carries a remarkable inscription, as well.
“In grateful recognition and appreciation of his heroic and efficient service in the rescue of the survivors of the Titanic on April 15th 1912, and of the generous and sympathetic treatment he accorded us on his ship. From the Survivors of the Titanic.”
[Photo By Topical Press Agency / Getty Images]