1914 Princess Mary Christmas Gift
In 1914 Princess Mary, daughter of King George V and Queen Mary, helped to set up a Christmas fund for soldiers serving overseas. The ‘Sailors and Soldiers Christmas Fund’ relied on people donating money, so that a gift could be sent to men serving abroad in the First World War. This was later extended to men serving in the UK as well.
The fund was hugely successful, and a large amount of money was soon collected. Princess Mary arranged to have these brass tins made, showing an image of the Princess, as well as naming the allied countries around the edge of the box. The contents of the boxes varied; Indian troops received spices, whilst other soldiers found cigarettes or sweets in their tins.
The large number of soldiers serving abroad by the end of 1914 led to a huge demand for this Christmas gift. Many men did not receive their gifts until well into the New Year, with some being sent on to the families of soldiers who had since been killed in action.