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World's oldest champagne under the hammer amidst criticisms from some authorities

Friday, 03 June 2011
Two bottles of champagne that was found in a shipwreck off the Åland, in Finland last summer are to be auctioned on Friday, amidst criticism. Estimated Price per bottle is about €15 000.
Many in Finland, according to various press reports question both the ethical and legal aspiration to make economic profits on cultural goods. There are concerns that this case could have a negative impact also for the Finnish international museum in the future.

Anne Ala-Pöllänen, assistant curator of marine history and museum studies at the University of Helsinki, is among the most active critics of the sale of the over 200 year old champagne bottles.
“To sell old museum cultural product violate all the principles on which museums committed to comply and are legally too problematic. Cultural objects that are older than 100 years are protected by the Antiquities Act that is bound to the Constitution. But most of all this is a question of a professional ethical problem that could have ripples on the surface of the whole museum, "said Ala-Pöllänen to Finnish broadcaster Yle.

“It is worrying that the museums' activities begin to rely on and become dependent on revenues from the sale of cultural goods.” She adds

According to her, it is particularly disturbing that the authorities are behind this. Åland's museum community and the Provincial ought to be thinking about it.

The champagnes are bottles reported to have come from two different champagne houses. One is from Veuve Clicquot (Veuve Clicquot), the other from the no longer existing Juglar.

In July last year, a diver found the wreck and its cargo exclusively outside Åland. On board among other things, were 168 bottles of champagne.

No one knows what the merchant vessel which sank around 1800 with two masts was going to and where it came from.

These are products that were extremely rare in those days, suggesting that they were intended for someone who was very senior in the community, "said Bjorn Häggblom, communications manager for the Government of Åland to the Swedish daily Dagen’s Nyeheter

In addition to champagne and beer, the vessel was laden with grapes and exotic fruit. It is speculated that the precious cargo was on its way to the Czar of Russia, Alexander I, perhaps, or his successor Nicholas I. Both were also Grand Duke of Finland and the kings of Poland.

The bottles, which now go under the hammer, had their stopper on when they were salvaged from the wreckage. The original corks of champagne are sent to the expert and historian Fabienne Moreau of France. By examining the stamp on the caps, she could find that the champagne in the bottles dates back to about 1840, perhaps earlier. This means that it is the world's oldest champagne bottles that are now up for auction.

The quality of the Champaign in the bottle was still in good quality according to tests. Speculators for the drinks come from "all over the world," according to experts with quite a number from China, USA, Gulf countries and Russia. This is where the money is at the moment.
The Champagne auction will begin at 15, local time. The economic surplus from the auction goes to charity earmarked for maritime historical and archaeological purposes and for the Baltic Sea environment.
By Scancomark.se Team

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