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Tin - Princess Mary's Christmas Gift, 1914 Object Reg. No: HT 24112

Summary:
Decorative brass tin sent by Princess Mary to members of the British, Colonial and Indian Armed Forces for Christmas 1914. Over 426,000 of these tins were distributed to those serving on Christmas Day 1914. The tins were filled with various items including tobacco, confectionary, spices, pencils, a Christmas card and a picture of the princess.

The idea was the initiative of Princess Mary, the 17-year-old daughter of King George V and Queen Mary. Princess Mary organised a public appeal which raised the funds to ensure that 'every Sailor afloat and every Soldier at the front' received a Christmas present. Due to the strong public support for the gift, which saw £162,591 12s 5d raised, the eligibility for the gift was widened to include every person 'wearing the King's uniform on Christmas Day 1914', about 2,620,019 servicemen and women.

The large number of people who were to receive the gift made it impossible to manufacture, supply and distribute the gifts by Christmas Day 1914. So recipients were divided into three classes:

Class A (received the gift on or near Christmas Day): comprised the Navy, including minesweepers and dockyard officials, and troops at the Front in France, the wounded in hospitals and men on furlough, prisoners and men interned (for whom the gift was reserved), members of the French Mission with the Expeditionary Force, nurses at the Front in France and the widows or parents of those who had been killed.
Class B: all British, Colonial and Indian troops serving outside the British Isles, who were not provided for in Class A.
Class C: all troops in the British Isles

Class B and C gifts were not sent out until January 1915, they contained a Happy New Year card. Having used or consumed the contents, servicemen and women then used the tins to carry other small items.

During World War I, Princess Mary visited hospitals and welfare organizations with her mother, assisting with projects to give comfort to British servicemen and assistance to their families.
Description:
Rectangular tin with hinged lid. Lid is embossed with profile portrait of a young female (Princess Mary) in the centre surrounded by a wreath. The letter "M" is embossed on either side of the wreath in cursive script. A decorative border around the lid contains the words "Imperium Britannicum" at the top and "Christmas 1914" at the bottom. The corners and sides contain the names of Britain's allies between decorations of flags, ships and weapons. The lid does not fully close.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Unknown
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 37 mm (Height), 125 mm (Width)

More information

Tagged with: world war i 1914-1918, australians at war, military memorabilia, colonial military forces, christmas celebrations, christmas, defence forces, militaria british, militaria new zealand, ht 24112, old, 1914, bsa m20, price of tin now un india
Themes this item is part of: Public Life & Institutions Collection
Primary Classification: MILITARY HISTORY
Secondary Classification: Souvenirs & Mementoes
Tertiary Classification: containers
Inscriptions: 'BELGIUM', 'IMPERIUM BRITANNICUM', 'JAPAN', 'RUSSIA', 'MONTENEGRO', 'CHRISTMAS 1914', 'SERVIA', 'FRANCE'. The letter 'M' is inscribed twice, one on each side of the Princess Mary profile.
Date of Event: 25 Dec 1914

These tins were sent to British, Colonial, and Indian soldiers and sailors for Christmas Day 1914
Issued By: Princess Mary, England, Great Britain, 1914

Comments

Marilyn Powell Posted on 28 Dec 2010 2:15 PM
I am sitting looking at my tin. It must have been given to my grandfather. He was english and fought in WWI. It is dated 1914 and is one of the few reminders I have of that side of my family. Thanks for the memory.
Marina Roylance Posted on 23 Jul 2011 12:37 AM
Hi I have one of these tins from my grandfather and now I know the history thanks .
Vikas Singh Posted on 12 Feb 2012 1:00 AM
Hi this is Vikas singh from India,I have one of these tins,i am very happy about the history.
Maung Muang Than Posted on 26 Jun 2012 7:06 AM
I have my grandpa one who had served in British Army (Supply) in Mandalay, Burma. The color is dark chocolate. No polish and no chemical treatment have done.
My Mom passed it to me as hand-me-down things before she passed away in 2010.
Avril Smith South Africa Posted on 12 Aug 2012 6:49 PM
my granddaughter is doing an oral at school on the tin, which came from my grandfather, so it has spanned 5 generations. Thank you for advising us of the history.
absaheb ghorpade venegaon Posted on 13 Aug 2012 12:26 AM
Hi this is abasaheb ghorpade from india maharashtra state satara distric village venegaon .I have one of these tins. I am veryhappy about this history. l have my grandpa one who had served in british army in first world war.
David Boddice Posted on 20 Aug 2012 8:03 PM
Thank you for the history of The Princess Mary tin.
I have recently had my grandfathers tin passed on to me and knew nothing of its history. Knowing this makes it even more special.
adele pentony-graham Posted on 22 Oct 2012 11:51 AM
I was so lucky, I managed to buy one of the lovely Princess Mary Christmas Box in an antique shop here in New Zealand. greatly admired, love saying the history off it to folk who had no idea about them.. I heard of one for sale in England, complete, just imagine with the original contents in it..
allan danforth Posted on 17 Jan 2013 5:06 PM
I found this tin in a hidden compartment in my floor boards of my home when I was repairing the floor ,Thanks so much for the history , I often wondered the full representation of this tin .
Roze south Africa Posted on 01 Mar 2013 6:42 PM
I have one of these tins. It belonged to my grandfather. My child is doing a full history oral today. Thank you for information
Daniel Posted on 14 Mar 2013 2:47 AM
I have one of these tins with the new year card signalling its a class B or C tin. However, inside there is a cardboard insert with a odd looking Bullet which has the 'M' stamped on the side. Any information on that?
Brian Posted on 17 Mar 2013 12:22 AM
Daniel, the bullet held a small pencil inside which my tin still has. Not sure of origin of mine, though it was a gift from my father
Charlene Daviau Posted on 22 Mar 2013 10:50 PM
I have my Grandfather's tin
(empy). Glad to know the history.
Ontario, Canada
ian lock Posted on 01 Apr 2013 3:36 AM
I have two of these tins one is complete the other empty. Holding these tins which are nearly 100 years old makes me so proud. they gave up so much for us, god bless them all.
Brian Posted on 05 Apr 2013 7:44 PM
My grandfather was given the gifts in 1914, he was a regular soldier.
He kept every item and had them framed after the war,cigarettes,tobacco,pipe,cards and tin.I was given this by him it's amazing that it's survived almost a 100 years
Geoff Posted on 12 May 2013 7:56 PM
Mine belonged to my grandfather who served in France as a driver. He would never be drawn into discussion of his war service so this little piece of the puzzle is appreciated.
John Hislop Posted on 30 May 2013 3:00 PM
I had my Grandfather Andrew Hislop Snr's tin. We use it to keep his medals in. It has now been passed on to Andrew Hislop Jr, my son and used many times in school projects.
Gail Posted on 07 Jul 2013 10:08 PM
I have my Grandfather's tin that he got while serving in France. Thanks for giving the history of it.
Trudy Crew Posted on 07 Aug 2013 8:37 AM
I have the complete set,all still intact as my great uncle Guardsman Ernest Dowden was killed in action before he received the gift. It was returned with his belongings to my great grandmother who had it framed with his photograph. I am in the process of donating it to the Guards Museum in London.
George A Wakeling Posted on 09 Aug 2013 8:34 AM
I have my Dad's and he was the army in France and wounded there. He told me about the tin and said he loved the tobacco. It now has his medals and ribbons plus hid WW 2 Navy info.
Wyong R.S.L.Sub -Branch (Showcase) Posted on 15 Sep 2013 1:28 PM
we have one ,still has message from Princess
Mary and the bullet,but no pencil in it ,has personal dog tags and photos also
Dean Posted on 04 Oct 2013 2:53 PM
I retrieved one of these tins in Afghanistan. It was in a resident house that was cleared of its occupants
chris Posted on 06 Oct 2013 6:14 AM
My tin was given to me by my grandfather when I was a boy. It belonged to his father who served in France and survived the war. I am a smoker, and I use the tin for my tobacco and carry it everywhere. I get lots of comments and questions about it and love telling folk the history. Our heroes will never be forgotten.
Eddie Posted on 09 Oct 2013 7:34 AM
I have my grandfathers tin just passed down to me from my fater. It is a Christmas frontline tin complete with tobacco ciggarettes pipe and card,photo and envelope. Its history and I'm so proud to have it.
Andrew Posted on 04 Nov 2013 3:26 PM
@Daniel, I've recently done a little research on the pencil included in the Princess Mary Gift Box, you can see it here: http://thejungleisneutral.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/the-bullet-pencil/

Thank you Museum Victoria for such a detailed description of the Princess Mary Tins. They were such a unique item.
Rian Rademeyer Posted on 20 Nov 2013 10:26 PM
I kept my small screwdrivers in the tin and saw the Christmas 1914 inscription and googled it. Must have belonged to my wife's grandad who fought at Delville Wood. Thanks for the info.
Dave Dunn Posted on 24 Nov 2013 2:12 AM
My Grandfather left Clinton Massachusetts to be a Red Cross Ambulance Driver in France in WWI. He was a devoted pipe smoker and kept the tin filled for as long as he lived It was passed on to me almost 40 years ago. We treasure it.
Robert Andreason Posted on 13 Dec 2013 12:21 PM
We own the full pack of smokes, tobacco, and card from the princess. 1914 .
Mike Simpson Posted on 29 Dec 2013 1:48 AM
I have this tin. It was my grandfather's. Inside is the 'victorious new year' card. Also inside is a single brass rifle bullet in a cardboard holder that was made to fit the tin exactly. Is this usual?
Discovery Centre Posted on 30 Dec 2013 1:54 PM
Museum Victoria Comment
Hi Mike - if you have a look at the comments above, it seems likely that your bullet contains the bullet pencil mentioned by other collectors. See also the Australian War Memorial site for more examples of these tins and their contents.
sara turnage Posted on 06 Jan 2014 3:08 AM
[i have a brass tin and also, a silver one. where did the silver one come from? what is the difference since the silver one was not mentioned. thanks, sara
Paul Wiggins Posted on 19 Jan 2014 9:55 AM
Our tin is displayed at our house in Toronto, Canada - passed on to me through the family
Ron Teasdale Posted on 25 Jan 2014 8:24 AM
I found one of these boxes in my office on in an old office building at my first job in 1969, for many years I thought it was a candy box but today I discovered it could of contained other things. I think at one time Building used to be owned by Robertson Candies on Queen Street east in Toronto, thank you so much for the information I found here
Rita Lyons Posted on 02 Feb 2014 12:02 PM
I have a Princess Mary Christmas card and picture, the card has come apart but is still recognisable after 100 years
soxyfoxy Posted on 26 Feb 2014 6:25 AM
found this box whilst having a sort out.So glad i found this website.Now i know what it is will treasure it as it belonged to my great grandfather..
Jamie Noble-Lewis Posted on 21 Apr 2014 5:09 AM
I have just been going through belongings left to me by my late grandfather, This was his fathers ( my great grandads box ) He was a non smoker as it has the bullet pencil with original pencil still, ID tag ( G.RALPHS. CofE 49589RCA )I have a picture of Princess Mary & King George which is signed, along with the "M" card wishing them happy Christmas and prosperous new year. I have two of these boxes one with all of the above and another with a spent cartridge which we believe was the bullet that killed his friend and he was given the box to keep. Great to see this history and how they are still being talked about 100 years on!
John Parr Posted on 28 Apr 2014 7:53 PM
I have inherited my great grandfather's Princess Mary tin from 1914. It has been lovingly polished and treasured by my Dad for many years. Now I'm a proud. owner.
John Davis Posted on 15 Jun 2014 2:44 AM
I have one of these tins - Christmas 1914 - which was given to my uncle who served in the British Expeditionary Force and then in the Royal Army Service Corps. His main function was to provide foraging for the horses. My father was also at the front serving at the Somme and Ypres and another Uncle was in the Royal Engineers. All three brothers returned safely and all had front line experience. I have wondered about the tin and am grateful I know now what it is and how it was used. It will form part of a display I am giving at our local Parish Church to commemorate the 100th Ann. of WW1. I also have several items of my fathers - new testament - letter from the CO on demobilization - engraved shell cases - photos taken at Ypres, postcards, and several other items.
Gerrard Boyle Posted on 25 Jun 2014 4:03 AM
I found a tin like this during an excavation in Camden town, London. It contained a bullet pencil and a brass implement which contains a hook shaped pin like for darning or the like and other pins which slide out, also a leather pouch.
I am interested in finding out who may have owned it.
Divesh Dubey Posted on 28 Jun 2014 4:39 AM
Hey, I m Divesh Dubey from India I have one of these tin cans I am having from a very long time it is such a great. Pleasure having this price of history..

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