Princess Mary, 17 year-old daughter of King George V, wanted to do something special for British troops wearing the country’s uniform during the Christmas of 1914—the first winter of World War I. She organized a funds drive by which every serviceman, nurse, and widow (or parent) of those killed in action would receive a special gift from the nation. After a successful campaign, funds were used to design and create the “Princess Mary” brass box, one of which is shown above. Inside, the recipient would find a Christmas note, a photo of the princess, and either tobacco products (for men), a “bullet pencil” and candy (for non-smokers and boys), chocolate (for nurses), or candy and spices (for Indian troops).
Alas, due to the war, brass supplies were very low, as was the production capacity to stamp and create the boxes. Supplemental brass was bought from the Americans, some of which was lost in-transit on the Lusitania.
Needless to say, the heroic effort made to get a Princess Mary box into the hands of every serviceman (or his survivor) for Christmas 1914 went unfulfilled. By 1920 (months after war’s end), the last box was delivered and production ceased.
For a dad interested in military history—and, perhaps, a place to stash his cufflinks—the Princess Mary box may be just the right Father’s Day gift. Click on the photo above to learn more about it—or come into the shop to see it in person.
More Father’s Day gift ideas tomorrow.