Page last updated at 11:26 GMT, Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Hindenburg airship beer auctioned

Hindenburg beer
The bottle of beer is one of six that survived the Hindenburg crash

A blackened bottle of beer found in the wreck of the Hindenburg zeppelin is expected to fetch thousands of pounds at auction.

The bottle was found by a fire-fighter cleaning up the American airfield where the German airship exploded in 1937.

The bottle will be the most expensive ever bought if it meets its estimated price of £5,000 ($8,337) on Saturday.

The airship was engulfed by flames as it landed in New Jersey, killing 38 people and injuring 60.

Secret find

New Jersey firefighter Leroy Smith found six bottles of Lowenbrau beer and a pitcher intact on the scene of the crash.

You wouldn't want to drink it - it is probably quite putrid to taste
Andrew Aldridge

He buried his secret find so he could collect them later, as the area had been sealed off by the authorities.

Mr Smith gave the other five bottles to his colleagues.

Most of the others are now lost, although one was given to the Lowenbrau company after the death of Mr Smith's friend.

The silver-plated pitcher, which bears the logo of the Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei, the zeppelin airline company, is expected to reach £12,000 ($20,000).


The bottle and jug were passed on by Mr Smith to his niece in 1966 and are now to be put on sale by auctioneers Henry Aldridge and Son.

The Hindenburg zeppelin
The Hindenburg disaster was captured on film

The beer would have gone off within a year of being bottled.

"You wouldn't want to drink it - it is probably quite putrid to taste," auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said.

Some of the liquid has evaporated from the bottle and the label is burned, but the logo is still visible.

The previous record price for a bottle of beer was a limited edition sale of a Carlsberg lager which cost £240 ($400).

The flammable hydrogen that kept the giant zeppelin in the air exploded as the ship came in to land on a voyage across the Atlantic from Frankfurt.

The precise cause of the fire is not known, but it is thought that friction in the mooring ropes could have been responsible.

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