Princess Mary's Gift Fund 1914 Box, Classes B & C

Catalogue number
  • EPH 2027
Display status
IWM London
  • Pencil: wood
  • Interior Cards: paper
  • Pencil Casing: silver
  • Tin, Pencil Casing: copper alloy
  • whole: Height 30 mm, Length 128 mm, Width 84 mm
Alternative names
  • full name: Princess Mary's Gift Fund 1914 Box, Classes B & C
  • simple name: COM
souvenirs and ephemera

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Physical description

Box, bullet pencil, photo, card. Brass box with hinged lid. Lid is decorated with embossed detail: in the centre Princess Mary's head in profile surrounded by a wreath and with 'M' each side; in each corner the name of an ally (clockwise from top left) 'BELGIUM' 'JAPAN' 'MONTE-NEGRO' and 'SERVIA'; along top edge an image of a bayonet & scabbard with 'IMPERIUM' BRITANNICUM' in centre; along bottom edge a plaque bearing 'CHRISTMAS 1914' with the bow of a Dreadnought each side; on both side edges is an image of 3 crossed flags with a disc in front bearing 'FRANCE' (left) and 'RUSSIA' (right). Bullet pencil made from expended .303 cartridge case, retained in box by cardboard holder. B/W photo of Princess Mary and the inside of Christmas Card with coloured writing and holly motif.

History note

The Gift Fund was inaugurated by Princess Mary in October 1914 to provide a gift to every serviceman at the front or at sea ('Class A') for the first Christmas of the War. The majority of gifts were for smokers and contained tobacco, cigarettes, a pipe and lighter. For non-smokers writing paper and an pencil were provided. For Indian troops candy and spices were given instead of or in combination with cigarettes. After Christmas 1914 a surplus of funds enabled the scheme to be extended. A simpler gift was given out to all other servicemen ('Classes B & C') which consisted of a bullet pencil and a New Year card. This example inexplicably contains a 'Class B & C' gift with a 'Class A' Christmas Card. See DEAF fact sheet or "A gift for Christmas: the story of Princess Mary's Gift Fund, 1914" by Diana Condell (IWM Review No.4 1989).

[1] embossed (around edges of lid -see desc) [2] embossed (either side of head) [3] printed (inside card) [4] written (on small slip of paper)

[1] BELGIUM IMPERIUM BRITANNICUM JAPAN FRANCE RUSSIA SERVIA CHRISTMAS 1914 MONTE-NEGRO [2] M M [3] With Best Wishes for a Happy Christmas and a Victorious New Year. from The Princess Mary and friends at Home. [4] Property of Gerald Hallam Cooke Feby 27th/16

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