A box of chocolate figurines given to a little girl as a Christmas gift more than a century ago were so precious to her that she kept them until her death.
The Edwardian gift, thought to date to between 1910 and 1914, was presented to Eileen Margaret Elmes when she was a little girl and will go under the hammer at auction.
Bought from Pascall’s Chocolates, a shop off Oxford Street in London, the ‘Little Red Riding Hood Pascall’s Chocolate Novelties’ contained four chocolate figures dressed in crepe paper outfits inside a decorative box.
Eileen, who died ten years ago aged 99, was besotted with the chocolates – including Little Red Riding Hood, wearing a cape and bonnet made from red crepe paper.
As a child she could not bear to eat them, and treasured them throughout her adult life.
Ten years after her death, Eileen’s niece, who wished to remain anonymous, decided to auction a precious Christmas gift which her aunt kept all her life.
The chocolate Red Riding Hood and her bedridden Grandma were accompanied by a chocolate sailor and another figurine dressed in a dress and hat.
Eileen’s niece said: “My aunt told me she couldn’t eat the chocolates because they were so pretty and beautifully wrapped, even though she loved chocolate.
“The chocolates were so special to her she wanted other people to see them and asked me if I could do anything about it.
“She hoped a museum would buy them, perhaps a chocolate museum, so they could be on display.”
Eileen, who was born in London in 1907, told her family that she was given the gift during her childhood, probably between the ages of three and seven.
Pascall’s Chocolates had a shop just off Oxford Street.
The chocolates are expected to sell for between £70 to £100 when they go under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers, Derby, on December 19.
Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: “I am sure chocoholics everywhere will be fascinated by this discovery – though they may shy away from the thought of eating one.
“It’s a magical Christmas story.
“To think that this little girl loved her special box of chocolates so much she couldn’t bear to eat them – or part with them.
“Chocolate is very much a part of our Christmas celebrations and many of us eat far too much of it.
“This is a humble reminder that in days gone by people appreciated and valued things far more than some of us do today.”
A spokesman for the company said “ Inevitably, time has taken its toll on the chocolates made decades before sell-by dates were even invented.
“They display a white sheen of age that would put off the most ardent chocoholics but, when you open the box, the delicious smell of cocoa still fills your nostrils.”