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Titanic biscuit goes under the hammer for £10,000

Sweet snack from ill-fated ocean liner auctioned

By Rod Minchin

Published 09/10/2015

The Spillers and Bakers ‘Pilot’ biscuit
The Spillers and Bakers ‘Pilot’ biscuit
James Fenwick and his wife Mabel (both on the right) who were onboard the SS Carpathia which went to the aid of survivors from the Titanic
A photo from the Fenwick archive of the rescue of the survivors from the Titanic

What could be the world's most valuable biscuit is to be sold at auction.

The Spillers and Bakers "Pilot" biscuit survived the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 in which more than 1,500 people died.

It was part of a survival kit stored within one of the ill-fated Belfast-built ocean liner's lifeboats and was kept as a souvenir.

It will now go under the hammer at Henry Aldridge & Son auctioneers in Devizes, Wiltshire, on October 24 and is estimated to sell for between £8,000 and £10,000.

The biscuit was kept by James Fenwick, who was a passenger onboard the SS Carpathia, which went to the aid of survivors from the ship.

He put the sweet snack in a Kodak photographic envelope complete with the original note, which stated "Pilot biscuit from Titanic lifeboat April 1912".

"It is the world's most valuable biscuit," auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said.

"We don't know which lifeboat the biscuit came from but there are no other Titanic lifeboat biscuits in existence to my knowledge.

"It is incredible that this biscuit has survived such a dramatic event - the sinking of the world's largest ocean liner - costing 1,500 lives.

"In terms of precedence, a few years ago a biscuit from one of Shackleton's expeditions sold for about £3,000 and there is a biscuit from the Lusitania in a museum in the Republic of Ireland.

"So we have put an estimate of between £8,000 and £10,000 which makes it the most valuable biscuit in the world."

The Titanic sank after striking an iceberg on April 14 1912 during its maiden voyage to New York from Southampton.

The biscuit will be sold alongside the Fenwick archive - a unique photographic history of the rescue of the survivors from the Titanic.

Mr Fenwick and his newlywed wife Mabel were embarking on a three-month honeymoon trip to Europe and had reached New York on April 11, 1912, little knowing that four days later the Carpathia would be the saviour of over 700 survivors from the Titanic.

The collection is being sold via direct descent of the Fenwicks and the photographic negatives included offer a unique snapshot into the rescue, showing the first sightings of the lifeboats, survivors on the Carpathia, their arrival in New York and even the SS Californian arriving at the scene of the rescue.

The photograph of the SS Californian has been described "one of maritime history's most dramatic photos". The story of the Californian is one the most controversial in Titanic's tragic loss as the captain was blamed for not reacting more quickly to the disaster.

Also being sold as part of the collection is an unpublished account of the rescue of the survivors written by Mr Fenwick.

The entry for April 15, hours after the Titanic sank, states: "5am. Awakened by hearing man's voice Titanic gone down. We are rescuing passengers and are surrounded by icebergs. This is time to be up and doing. Going on deck we found boats at our side crowded with those rescued plus other boats coming from all quarters, just beyond and on all sides of us... were the 'bergs".

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