Princess Mary Gift Fund Box
The Princess Mary Gift Fund box is an embossed brass box that originally contained a variety of items such as tobacco and chocolate. It was intended as a Christmas present to those serving at Christmas in 1914 and was paid for by a public fund backed by Princess Mary.
It was Princess Mary’s express wish that ‘every sailor afloat and every soldier at the front’ should have the present. The gifts were devised in October 1914 and intended for distribution to all who were serving overseas or at sea, in time for Christmas 1914; afterwards, with the fund in surplus and many feeling they had been ‘left out’, distribution was extended more widely – to all who were serving, whether at home or abroad, and to prisoners of war and the next of kin of 1914 casualties. This widened eligibility to an estimated figure of 2,620,019.
Contents varied depending on whether you were a smoker or non-smoker items included; packet of tobacco and cigarettes, a portrait photograph of Princess Mary, Christmas cards from Princess Mary and King George and Queen Mary, writing case and silver bullet pencil.