Polar Equipment and Relics, Miscellaneous Antiquities

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Ship's biscuit

Polar Equipment and Relics

Object connections:

Collection Polar Equipment and Relics, Miscellaneous Antiquities
Gallery locationNot on display
PeopleProvenance: Bewick, Thomas

Object details:

Object ID AAB0003
Description A round ship's biscuit, made of flour and salt, with perforations as an aid to baking. These hard-baked plain biscuits were standard naval sea issue and the normal seaman's ration in the late 18th-century Royal Navy was 7 ibs (3.2 kg) a week. While commonly known as 'hard tack' from their solidity when dry, the usual official term for them in logbooks and other official papers was 'bread' or sometimes 'ship's bread'. They were normally eaten by being softened in the liquor of boiled salt meat or 'portable soup' (see AAB0012). This one is inscribed: 'This biscuit was given - Miss Blacket at Berwick on Tuesday 13 April 1784, [signed] Bewick'. The inscription is thought to be by the wood engraver Thomas Bewick (1753-1828) in whose family it descended until about 1950.
Date made 1784

Artist/Maker Unknown
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials wheat
Measurements Overall: 10 x 95 mm
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