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February 2024

Main Title: Wooden crate
Object Title: Crate
Object Number: 2024.
The object of the month for February is a relatively normal-looking wooden crate. What makes it interesting are the symbols on the crate which are Japanese characters (kanji). We had some of the characters translated by a museum friend. They told us that the crate was made to hold apples!

Perhaps you are wondering how such an object would come to be part of Grytviken’s history. Produce could not be grown in South Georgia, which meant that everything was shipped in. As is still the case now, produce that can survive a long time was favoured; foods like potatoes, onions, carrots and apples. Stewards working at the whaling stations would check the food stores often to ensure that the supplies were not going off.

In the last days of whaling from South Georgia Grytviken whaling station was leased to a Japanese company for the 1963-1964 season. They intended to freeze whale meat and to make ‘bacon’ from whale blubber to sell. However, the operation did not prove to be financially viable and they did not return to Grytviken for another season.

The crate was discovered in the whaling-era Engineer’s Workshop. The huge building is still in use as a workshop today, used by the South Georgia Government Building Team.

Can you read kanji? If so, can you help us by translating more of the writing on the crate?

The apple crate.

The crate is printed with Japanese characters.