LONDON — Would you pay 145 pounds ($215) for a slice of very stale cake? That's what an antiques fair in Birmingham hopes to earn Thursday when people bid for the remnant from one of Britain's most controversial royal weddings.
The cake is thought to be the only surviving item from the 1871 wedding of Queen Victoria's fourth daughter, Princess Louise, to the Marquis of Lorne.
It went on sale for 145 pounds ($215) Thursday at the Antiques for Everyone fair in Birmingham. The seller is antiques dealer John Shepherd. He bought the slice from a private seller who is a descendant of a noble family from Kent.
"I like unusual objects with history," said Shepherd. "This was obviously treasured by the Royal Family, and I believe things should be treasured and looked after."
The slice, which is one-inch thick and protected by parchment, is a tiny portion of the towering 5-foot (1.5 meter) cake served at Princess Louise's wedding. The entire cake originally weighed over 225 pounds (102 kilograms) and took three months to create.
The wedding caused an uproar when Princess Louise angered the Prince of Wales by becoming the first British princess to marry a commoner. She was determined not to be burdened by the ritual of marrying another royal.
The cake slice is still wrapped in its original parchment, and it was kept for generations in a gentlemen's "cabinet of curiosity" where men kept treasures to show off, such as fossils and pieces of Egyptian art.
The purchaser will be able to do whatever he wants with the slice. But event organizers suggest it would not be wise to gobble it up, given how firm it is.
"We advise them not to eat a 138-year-old piece of cake," said Amy Kiernan, a spokeswoman for the fair.