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How Real Explorers Kit Themselves Out

A shopping trip to Fortnum and Mason's

sunny 16 °C

In 1923, Archaeologist and Egyptologist Howard Carter broke the seal on the tomb of Tutankhamun. Carter and his team boxed up the antiquities that he found in the tomb to ship back to London. Luckily, the expedition had drunk a lot of wine, so they had a lot of empty crates which to use. Those crates had come from the only department store in the world that had an Expeditions department.

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Fortnum and Mason's on Piccadilly since 1707.

In the early 1700s, Hugh Mason let a room in his house to William Fortnum. Together the opened a store on Piccadilly that has come to be an icon of Britain. The store has held a number of Royal Warrants, issued by the Royal Family to there preferred suppliers.

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In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Britain set its sights abroad, and soon expeditions were spreading out around the world. In addition to Carter's Egypt adventures, Fortnum and Mason's outfitted The 1922 Everest expedition, which didn't make the summit but did set a world record height record and included Sherpa Tensing Norgay. Norgay was one of two men who first reached the summit in 1953. The 1922 Everest expedition included "60 tins of quail in foie gras and four dozen bottles of champagne."

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I don't know if the expedition department still exists. My guess is not, as not many people go on expeditions that include the need for "essentials as butter knives and sauce boats." Too bad though. Nothing quite as glamorous as eating caviar off bone china and white linens while boating in the Belgian Congo or looking for lost Mayan lost cities in British Honduras.

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Posted by GregW 05:16 Archived in England Tagged luxury_travel

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The Expeditions Department at Fortnum's is no more, but the store still supplies the adventurous with delicious essentials and treats. We sent a chop box full of goodies to the Ascend the Nile Expedition a few years ago, and are currently working with some intrepid travellers who plan to race to the South Pole next year. The days of the gentleman explorer might be long gone, but even gap year back packers appreciate a little luxury.

Andrea Tanner
Archivist
Fortnum & Mason

by Andrea Tanner

Thanks for the information, Andrea. I did pick up some yummy teas and treats as gifts for my family back home in Canada, who I am visiting next month. I guess that is a kind of an expedition

Cheers,
Greg

by GregW

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