Tuesday, February 24, 2009


The notable law of agency case that appears in American business casebooks, Watteau v. Fenwick, 1 Q.B. 346 (1892), deals with a barkeeper who made purchases that had not been authorized by his employers. He purchased cigars, when he had in fact only been authorized to purchase Bovril. Completely unbeknownst to American law students, Bovril is the trade name of a condensed beef extract often dissolved in water and taken as a hot restorative on cold English days.
Developed by John Lawson Johnston as a bid for a contract solicited by Napoleon III during the Franco-Prussian War, the stuff was originally meant as a field ration (of which the French soldiers apparently had not enough, being akin in that regard to modern artillery; see also, Battle of Sedan). Like many British exports, see also, IPA, Bovril caught on at home well enough to be sold in pubs. The company still exists today, and Bovril is apparently widely popular at soccer matches throughout Britain.
Most interestingly, Bovril once ran an advertising campaign featuring Leo XIII:

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