This box would have been sent to a serviceman during WWI, as a result of a 'Sailors & Soldiers Christmas Fund' created by Princess Mary, the seventeen year old daughter of King George V and Queen Mary. The aim was to provide servicemen in 1914 with a 'gift from the nation'. The box was based on a design by Messrs Adshead and Ramsay. This one is particularly special as it still contains its original items - packets of cigarettes and tobacco, a photograph of Princess Mary and a card reading 'With Best Wishes for a Happy Christmas and a Victorious New Year from The Princess Mary and Friends at Home'. The inclusion of A German 'Iron Cross' in the box is a mystery - it may have been taken from a wounded or dead soldier on the battlefield, or perhaps it was part of The Christmas Truce? One side of the cross is dated 1813 with oak leaves and a crowned 'FW' above, the other side is dated 1914 with a crowned 'W' above. This is an incredibly rare and special example of such boxes as most have had the contents used and a similar fitted example was used in a BBC program on The Christmas Truce. The condition of the actual box is excellent although there is tarnish to the inside base. The packet of tobacco is open but none appears to have been used and a couple of cigarettes may have been smoked. 5 ins (12.75cm) x 1 ins (2.2cm) x 3.25 ins (8.5cm). Weight 188 grams. This item appears in my book, “Antique Boxes, Inside and Out” on page 237.
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