Have you heard of the Princess Mary’s Christmas Gift in 1914?
It was the World War One Princess Mary Brass Gift Tin.
I had a rare opportunity to hold this special brass tin last week.
Thousands of brass tins like this one were filled with gifts and sent to First World War soldiers serving in France or Belgium for Christmas Day in 1914. The tins were issued by Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood.
According to A History of the World by the BBC, the tins filled with gifts were paid for by contributions made to the Sailors & Soldiers Christmas Fund set up by Princess Mary. All boxes contained a Christmas card and a picture of the Princess. The boxes also contained chocolate, tobacco, pipes or sweets. Gifts and supplies were also sent from friends and family.
The Princess Mary’s Christmas Gift in 1914 is a rectangular tin with a hinged lid. The lid is embossed with a profile portrait of Princess Mary in the centre, surrounded by a wreath. The letter “M” is embossed on either side of the wreath in cursive script. There is a decorative border around the lid with the words “Imperium Britannicum” (meaning The British Empire) at the top and “Christmas 1914” at the bottom.
How was I so lucky to hold the brass tin? My friend Mary, who works in Chandler’s Ford, bought one from an antique shop for about £30 and showed it to me.
The brass tin is of military significance as a memento of the Great War. I measured the brass tin and its measurement is 13cm x 2.5cm x 8cm.
The Museum Victoria in Australia contains fascinating details about the brass tin. Many people from around the world wrote movingly about their brass tins left by their grandfathers.
You may want to check your attic this Christmas. If you have one of these precious brass tins by Princess Mary, please write to let us know.