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Princess Mary Tin

1914

A box containing gifts to soldiers serving in the First World War.

It was given to a soldier of the Manchester Regiment who served in France.

Princess Mary, the daughter of King George V and Queen Mary, decided to send a ‘gift from the nation’ to soldiers serving in France and Belgium at Christmas time 1914. This included men already held in Prisoner of War camps in Germany, those wounded, widows and parents of men already killed. 

Everyone thought the war would be over by Christmas so the box was in part a way of boosting morale. The scheme resulted in over two and half million brass tins being produced. This gift was in the form of a tin box, brass plated, containing cigarettes or chocolate for non-smokers, a Christmas card, photograph of Princess Mary and a pencil made from a bullet, suggested by Queen Mary to encourage soldiers to write home.

Great efforts were made to produce and distribute the boxes in time for Christmas but pressure on the postal service and shortage of brass meant some were not delivered until 1919.