A ‘wheeler-dealer’ antiques fan believes he has found Britain’s oldest chocolate Easter egg – which dates back to the 1850s.
Anthony McAdam, 56, claims he bought the 170-year-old egg after it was found in the back of a cupboard belonging to an elderly woman who had recently died.
The stonemason, who lives in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, said the egg had been given to the late pensioner as a child by her mother, who also received it as a child.
Anthony, who buys and sells antiques in his spare time, said he estimates the egg must date back to the mid-19th Century – before they were introduced in England.
He said: “I went to see somebody who had something for sale and they pulled this out too, they’d only just acquired it.
“I like buying old things and wheeling and dealing with antiques, and I enjoy buying old furniture usually.
“The bloke who sold it to me couldn’t give me an exact date, but said it was owned by an old lady, and was given to her by her mother as a girl, who was also given it as a child.
“She was very old, in her 70s or 80s, so it could date back as far as the 1850s.
“The story is that she couldn’t bear to eat it because it was so beautiful, put it away, and then it was just kept until it wasn’t edible and looked after.
“It eventually resurfaced in the original hand-painted box, which you can tell is very, very old.
“The cardboard is handmade stuff, everything is correct about it – it’s amazing.
“I don’t know where it was made, because it predates Cadbury’s.
“I imagine it would be solid chocolate, it feels quite heavy but I’ve not touched the egg itself.”
Anthony is now hoping to auction the precious chocolate egg, which sits in its original box, decorated with a print of yellow chicks.
He is currently keeping the ten-inch-long egg, which is also wrapped in an original piece of ribbon, in a safe.
Anthony added: “It’s the only Easter egg I’ve ever heard of which is that old.
“I’ve never ever see anything like that, especially in this country because of the weather and mice.
“It’s in a perfect condition, with the original ten-inch ribbon, and I’m keeping it in a safe.
“It’s got all this fancy, patterned chocolate around the outside – it’s an amazing thing, I couldn’t believe it when I saw it.
“What makes it more amazing is the box, it’s crazy.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do with it, maybe I’ll get it auctioned off.
“I have a friend who’s a collector of Rolls Royce and Bentley memorabilia and Havana cigars, and he said it’s so unique that it could be a Sotheby’s item.”
Historians reckon the first chocolate Easter eggs were made in Germany and France near the beginning of the 19th century.
But it wasn’t until 1873 that a British chocolatier turned their hand to making the tasty Easter treats.
It is attributed to JS Fry of Bristol, but they were quickly followed by other companies.