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Listed in category:
Collectibles > Bottles & Insulators > Bottles > Antique (Pre-1900) > Whiskeys, Gins, Schnapps

Also listed in:
Collectibles > Breweriana, Beer > Bottles








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Museum Quality ALLSOPP's ARCTIC ALE 1852 SEALED/FULL!!!RAREST Historic Beer in the World! AMAZING HISTORY!!!
Item number: 260145824374
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Winning bid:
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Until the 1850s Allsopp’s Brewery was most notable for brewing some of the first India Pale Ales for export to the colonies. However, Samuel Allsopp was approached about a different recipe; Sir Edward Belcher was about to led an arctic expedition (1852) to search for the lost explorer Sir John Franklin. The Expedition needed a brew that withstand arctic and sub arctic temperatures, and provide a degree of sustenance and nutritious value. “Captain Belcher reported that Allsopp's Arctic Ale proved to be "a valuable antiscorbutic", helping fight off scurvy, the bane of all sea voyages in those days.†He added that the beer was "a great blessing to us, particularly for our sick" and that it refused to freeze until the temperature dropped well below zero.†[beerpages.com]
What you are looking at is an actual museum quality sealed and intact bottle of Samuel Allsopp’s Arctic Ale brewed for the 1852 Expedition to the Arctic lead by Sir Edward Belcher. This bottle of beer is likely the rarest, oldest, and most documented bottle of beer in existence! Not to mention the unbelievably unique history surrounding it. Accompanying the bottle is an actual limited handwritten history about the bottle itself.
It reads as follows:

“This ale was specially brewed and bottled in England, in 1852, for Kane’s Expedition in search of Sir John Franklin. A portion of the lot was cached in the Arctic; and was afterwards taken back to England, where it was bought by Allsopp, from whom Mr. Jus. Fennell obtained a part.
This bottle was given to me by Mr. Fennell May 13, 1919. Should I depart from this (by that time probably) dry world before consuming the contents, let my son and brethren perform my duties and enjoy my rights in that respect, on the eve of my funeral (if they find it in time) – unless such act be then illegal, in which case those of the aforesaid trustees who sufficiently learned in law shall advise ac-????? To the rule of ey fares.
Two bottles of this ale were guests of honor at the banquet given to Shackleton and Peary, in Boston, some years ago. (1907/1908) The skeletons of said guests were preserved as mementos of Sir John Franklin! (Useful suggestion regarding the “cast off shell†of the spirit.)
Signed: Percy G Bolster
Research seems to point toward Percy Bolster being an attorney in the Boston area in the early 20th C. I am not sure who Kane is? that he is referring in the Expedition. Perhaps a financier or someone his friend Fennell told him of.
The handwritten note was laminated some time back. The bottle itself is in excellent condition, still full and wax sealed over cork. The fill line is possibly the original fill line for the bottle. The wax seal appears lightly chipped in one area. Please read the e-bay disclaimers concerning this auction* You are bidding on what most would consider the rarest bottle of beer in the world! This bottle’s history is amazing!
Think…two bottles were sent over for the celebration Peary and Shackleton’s North Pole expedition, in Boston, over 100 years ago, and those bottles were considered a RARE TREASURE at that time!!! Do your research this piece is nothing short of museum quality, also find it interesting that the world record price paid for a full corked bottle of wine was a Chateau Margaux 1789 that was part of Thomas Jefferson’s personal collection, LONDON Christies 1989 $265,000.
Although this bottle is not quit of that caliber, it is rather close, with age, condition, provenance, and history. Imagine it was rare enough 100 years ago to be something very special, something that would be opened for a successful 1st expedition to the North Pole.
So here is your chance, own the rarest bottle of beer in the world, make the Guinness Book of World Records, or do as you please. This is most certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity. A down payment is expected at auction end. The transaction can be closed in a number of conventional ways, if you have the money to purchase this item, you are well familiar with all of them. Standard auction terms and conditions govern this auction. Please do not waste my time with ridiculous comments or questions, serious buyers and inquiries only.
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[font="arial, helvetica, sans-serif"]This listing complies with ebay rules on the sale of alcohol. As per ebay rules:[/font]
[font="arial, helvetica, sans-serif"] [/font]
[font="arial, helvetica, sans-serif"]- The value of the item is in the collectible container, not its contents.
- The container has not been opened and any incidental contents are not intended for consumption.
- The item is not available at any retail outlet, and the container has a value that substantially exceeds the
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[font="arial, helvetica, sans-serif"] current retail price of the alcohol in the container. [/font]
[font="arial, helvetica, sans-serif"]- As the seller, I will take all appropriate steps to ensure that the buyer is of lawful age in the buyer and seller's[/font]
[font="arial, helvetica, sans-serif"] jurisdiction. (21 in the United States, 18 most everywhere else) [/font]
[font="arial, helvetica, sans-serif"]- Buyers and sellers both ensure that the sale complies with all applicable laws and shipping regulations.[/font][/blockquote][/blockquote][/blockquote][/blockquote][/blockquote][/blockquote]

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The following is a passage from the Belcherfoundation.com web page (The section covering the 1852 Expedition). Note the excellent references to their provisions, experiments with freezing liquids, and the utter hard ship this bottle took to go, be cached, withstand, and return and survive! I encourage you to research the expedition and history of Belcher further, it will allow for hundreds of hours of fun.
Arctic Explorer
After Captain Sir Edward Belcher returned to England, in 1852 he was placed in command of five vessels, aptly named the Pioneer, the Resolute, the Assistance, the Intrepid, and the North Star, for the performance of an Arctic expedition, the account of which Sir Edward related in his two-volume work, The Last of the Arctic Voyages (1855). To him was given the nearly impossible mission of searching for the missing ships commanded by Sir John Franklin (1786-1847), who had sailed to the Canadian Arctic in 1845 in an attempt to find the Northwest Passage and had never returned. Numerous expeditions were sent to look for Franklin over the next two decades, but few definitive traces of his fate were found until the discovery of records from his expedition revealed that he and his crew had perished after their ships had become icebound in 1846.
Sir Edward Belcher’s expedition sailed from England in the spring of 1852 and spent the next two years scouring the Arctic for traces of Sir John Franklin and his men. Belcher’s expedition made exhaustive searches to the north, east, and west, but no evidence revealing the location of the lost Franklin expedition were found in these areas. This, coupled with other intelligence he gathered, led Sir Edward to the conclusion that Sir John Franklin’s fate would be found in the southern parts of the Arctic. Sir Edward proved correct in this assessment, and proof of the Franklin expedition’s unfortunate deaths to the south was later discovered by another expedition.
In addition to helping determine the whereabouts of Sir John Franklin and his men, Sir Edward Belcher’s expedition made significant discoveries with regard to Canadian Arctic geography, wildlife, and climatology. Numerous Arctic geographical locations were explored and named by the Belcher expedition. Among these were Barrow Bay, Northumberland Sound, Exmouth Island, North Cornwall, Princess Royal Island, North Kent Island, Prince Edward’s Cape, Prince Albert’s Island, Buckingham Island, Victoria Archipelago, and Cape Disraeli. Belcher Channel (located below Cornwall Island) was named for Sir Edward Belcher, as were the Belcher Islands (a group of large islands in the southern part of Hudson Bay). There is a "Belcher Point" situated on Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic.
With regards to the climate and wildlife of the Arctic, Sir Edward made important observations. He performed scientific experiments on the freezing of liquids, the depth of the ice, and the effects of the extreme cold on instruments such as thermometers. He also studied the formation, characteristics, and patterns of the Arctic ice floes (frozen sheets of ice, sometimes acres wide, and typically several feet in thickness). His analysis of the temperatures, barometric pressures, winds, and weather patterns of the Arctic was extensive. His meteorological surveys revealed a climate where temperatures could dip lower than fifty degrees below zero, and where winters averaged twenty to thirty degrees below zero.
In addition to being a natural leader and having a brilliant scientific mind, Sir Edward Belcher was a kind, compassionate man deeply interested in the welfare of his crew and others. He designed significant improvements for his ship which rendered it much warmer, drier, and more comfortable for the crewmen. His efforts to improve the ship included measures to reduce the condensation of water vapor caused by cold air entering the interior of the ship. Prior to his improvements, water vapor condensed inside the ship rendering it damp and moist, which was unhealthy for the men. Sir Edward remedied this problem, as well as the problem of poor air circulation. By using the ship’s pumps to circulate air, the problem of stagnant air was solved. He also devised methods of insulating the ship from the cold Arctic air, resulting in a warmer, more comfortable, and healthier environment for the sailors. Sir Edward preserved this knowledge in his narrative of his Arctic voyage, and also suggested an improved design for building Arctic vessels.
Sir Edward and his crew got along well, and he frequently praised them and considered them to be among the finest sailors in the navy. His crew expressed their respect, admiration, and loyalty to him repeatedly, and presented him with entertainments such as plays and a musical concert. In return, Sir Edward conducted recreations such as his "Loyal Circle of Arctic Engineers" which met to discuss matters of naval and scientific interest. He also proposed topics (sometimes humorous) for the crewmen to research, and awarded them medals for jobs well done. Evening schools, where the crew were taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, were also implemented.
On Christmas Day, 1852, the men from Sir Edward’s expedition pleasantly awoke Edward with music and a Christmas song. They then wished him a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. At noon, the festivities aboard Sir Edward’s ship began, and the crew let out a loud cheer as Sir Edward told them what a good job they had done and raised his glass to toast the Queen of England. Roast beef, plum pudding, mince pies, and frosted cakes added to the Christmas good cheer. The officers and crew thoroughly enjoyed their first Christmas in the Arctic, warm feelings felt among all.
Sir Edward Belcher was a wise, generous, and merciful man. Upon learning that many families in Greenland were dying from starvation, Sir Edward donated provisions for their relief. He believed that the Eskimos living in the Arctic regions were both highly intelligent and resourceful. He was particularly impressed by the Eskimos’ skillful construction of their dwellings, which he found conducive to healthy living conditions. His wisdom led him to advise his men against the overuse of alcoholic beverages, advice which he himself followed. Throughout the expedition, Sir Edward expressed his faith that God would protect him and his men. He led the men in prayers and religious services.
Ice floes, which could batter a ship to pieces, were one of the big dangers of Arctic voyages. It was unlikely that a ship could withstand being "nipped" or hit by such a floating mass of ice. According to Sir Edward Belcher’s calculations, the floating weight of a floe measuring merely 300 square yards would be 63,080 tons; and one floe witnessed by Belcher extended as far as the eye could see. It was doubtful that any ship could withstand such pressure exerted against it.
In fact, many vessels were lost due to the treacherous and unpredictable Arctic ice. In 1852, Sir Edward Belcher found the wreck of the Regalia, which had been sheared completely through by the ice. In the same year, the ship M’Clellan was crunched by the ice and sank. In 1853, a similar fate occurred when the Breadalbane transport ship was lost to the ice’s treachery and sank in only fifteen minutes. Sir Edward’s own ships were in danger of being caught in the clutches of the ice many times, but escaped through Sir Edward’s skillful navigation.
The ice could create tragic results. In one incident, a lieutenant named Bellot (from Captain Inglefield’s expedition) fell through a crack in the ice and drowned. Certain death likewise threatened members of another expedition under Commander M’Clure in the Investigator, but just in time, M’Clure and his icebound crew were rescued by members of the Belcher expedition, and the Investigator was abandoned.
The winter of 1853-1854 was unusually severe. The temperature dropped at one point to fifty-nine degrees below zero, and averaged thirty degrees below zero for the months of November 1853 through March 1854. Few Arctic explorers prior to Sir Edward Belcher had experienced such a severe winter, and Sir Edward speculated that the temperatures may have been the lowest ever recorded by human beings. However, thanks to Sir Edward’s improvements to the ship, his men were comfortable throughout this harsh winter, with the temperatures inside the ship infinitely more hospitable than the frigid outside air. Between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, the crew cheerfully sang songs. New Year’s Day, 1854, found the men aboard Sir Edward Belcher’s ships in good humor and of good cheer.
Long expeditions into the harsh Arctic climate, however, were not without their penalties. The frigid winters, and resulting accumulation of ice, required a ship to fasten down for "winter harbor." Thus, the crews had to deal with long periods of confinement and inactivity (traveling was usually impractical in the winter). Furthermore, the sun is not visible during the dark Arctic winters. Because game was scarce in some areas, a crew might have to survive mainly on preserved food. Even if hunting was successful, it might yield only walrus, which some found distasteful. The resulting lack of adequate nutrients could lead to the disease known as scurvy.
By 1854, several of the men in the Belcher expedition were becoming ill. Sir Edward Belcher cared very deeply for his men, and thus he knew it would be very difficult for them to last another year in the Arctic. To the equal concern of Sir Edward, several of the Investigator’s crew (which had been rescued by Belcher’s men in 1853) also were sick. Sir Edward was concerned about their welfare and was determined to get them safely home to England as soon as possible. In his own words, Sir Edward valued even one human life far greater than the value of material objects like ships.
As matters stood in early 1854, Sir Edward Belcher knew the following facts: first, that his mission to search for Sir John Franklin had been completed — all the areas he was ordered to search had been searched; second, that the missing men of the Investigator had been rescued; third, that his instructions from the Admiralty anticipated his return in 1854; and finally, that his crew (which had been in the Arctic for two years) needed to be taken back to England for their own health and safety. Added to this was the fact that fuel and food were running low, and might not last another year.
Sir Edward therefore made the intelligent and compassionate (for his crew’s sake) decision to return to England in 1854 — a decision which the Admiralty agreed with. The terrible winter of 1853-1854 had left four of the Belcher expedition’s ships locked in the ice. Aided by blasting and a battering ram, Sir Edward was successful in extricating two of them, but they were barred from further progress by an ice pack. Reluctantly, and with sadness in his heart for their loss, Sir Edward ordered his ships to be abandoned in accordance with the Admiralty’s instructions.
Luckily for the loyal crew who served under him, Sir Edward Belcher had the foresight to know that it would be senseless to try to stay with the ships. First, his orders from the Admiralty required the whole expedition to be withdrawn. Second, it was unclear if the ships could ever be extricated from the ice. Third, the ships quickly could be crunched by the ice in a matter of minutes, like the Breadalbane, allowing little time to rescue any crew members. Finally, and most importantly, he had sick men who needed to be taken back to England and it would be risking all of the crew’s lives to try to save the ships.
The Admiralty had placed in Sir Edward Belcher’s hands the safety of the entire expedition, and he, above all, was compassionate enough to fulfill that order to save human life. Sir Edward once said that he valued even one human life far greater than the value of material objects like ships. Unlike so many vainglorious explorers who risk all, including the lives of their crew, in a pursuit of glory, Sir Edward sought only mercy and justice. For that decision, he deserves the highest praise.
In the summer of 1854, the expedition thus departed for England in the North Star, in accordance with the Admiralty’s instructions. Soon after they departed, they encountered the Phoenix and the Talbot, two supply ships which helped to transport the expedition back to England. The crew of the Belcher expedition (along with Investigator’s rescued men) safely arrived in England in September 1854. The Belcher expedition had successfully completed its mission. The expedition had exhaustively searched the areas it was ordered to search for Sir John Franklin and his men. Belcher’s expedition helped determine that Sir John Franklin’s fate would likely be found to the south, thus answering many questions about Franklin’s whereabouts. Furthermore, the Belcher expedition explored thousands of miles of Arctic landscape and made many contributions to Arctic geography and meteorology.



On Aug-04-07 at 10:03:53 PDT, seller added the following information:


Further research suggests that this is the oldest known sealed bottle of beer in the world. The bottle believed to be the oldest was a bottle of 1869 Ratcliffs, combine that with a recent high sale on the worlds oldest sealed bottle of Scotch (1858), without exceptional history, @ 14,000 GBP apx $28,650. and this sealed historic bottle of Allsopp's Arctic Ale is about as rare as they get. Use it for a great advertising promotion, put your bar, club, or restaurant on the map by having the worlds oldest and most historic known bottle of beer, a real once in a life opportunity!!! Not to mention all of the attributes to this bottles history and provenance!!





On Aug-05-07 at 18:46:26 PDT, seller added the following information:

A comment on the Kane issue.
Hi - not a question, rather a comment: the Kane mentioned is certainly Elisha Kent Kane (1820-1857), a famous American arctic explorer, who was a member of the first Grinnell Expedition in search of Franklin, 1850-1851; and commander of the second Grinnell Expedition, 1853-1855. However, he was at home giving lectures in 1852. Good luck with the auction, it's a wonderful relic.
- Thanks for the excellent insight.




On Aug-10-07 at 15:57:01 PDT, seller added the following information:

I have had many questions about the transfer on this item. Since it is rather high profile the "closing" will take place at a local bank via an escrow account, or same day wire. The buyer may have an independent 3rd party authenticate the item, if they so choose. Alternately I may arrange to deliver the item in person if the situation warrants. Thanks for all your very nice comments.
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Q:
I just read "Ghosts of Cape Sabine" regarding the Greely Expedition and can truly appreciate this unique and stunning one-of-a-kind item that was...more
Aug-09-07

A:
Cheers!!!

Q:
What an great piece of history!
Aug-09-07

A:
Thank you...I concur! Cheers Dan

Q:
Hi - not a question, rather a comment: the Kane mentioned is certainly Elisha Kent Kane (1820-1857), a famous American arctic explorer, who was a member...more
Aug-05-07

A:
Thank you very much for your insight. Cheers Dan





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