For centuries sailors have brought home mementoes of their travels but a crew of Dundee whalers topped them all by landing a couple of polar bears in the city.
They housed them in a Nethergate cellar overnight and next morning, cash rich and still basking in the excitement of their Arctic trip, they set off to parade the animals.
The sailors made for a patch of ground in Commercial Street, just at the top of Seagate, where they planned a show.
Both bears were locked into a wooden box with an iron grille at the front.
Our 1878 report (copied in full below) suggests the whalers were in high spirits as they pushed the barrow through the city, cheering and gathering a crowd as they went.
But, of course, the barrow tilted and one of the polar bears smashed the wooden spars of the bottom of the box and legged it.
So did the whalers who perhaps had a better knowledge than most of the ferocious capabilities of polar bears.
The mood of the inquisitive crowd turned to terror as the bear stretched and took in the city air.
Hundreds scattered and one woman fled into the draper’s shop of Messrs J. Jamieson and Company.
Before she could close the door the bear burst in. The woman leapt over the counter, quickly followed by the salesman.
They watched as the bear savaged a tailor’s dummy before crashing into the rear of the premises.
It pondered a mirror for a while before settling down in front of a fire.
All was quiet until the bear touched the grate. There followed the most blood-curdling roaring and angry crashing. This was one seriously upset bear.
The pair behind the counter watched aghast of the snarling beast returned to the front of the shop.
Outside a crowd of several thousand had gathered and many pressed against the window to try to witness their plight.
But just in time, the whalers returned and after a struggle, managed to get a rope around the bear’s neck and persuaded him back into his box.Report from The Dundee Courier and Argus, November 8 1878: