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Remembered Today:

81 Princess Mary's Christmas Tins


Sepoy
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Although I should be preparing for a business meeting, I just broke off to quickly browse through a London Auction House (No Names - No Pack drill!) catalogue, which has just been released on line.

The one item which has caught my attention is a large cardboard box done up with string which bears a lead seal marked "M". The box has been x-rayed and it contains 81 Princess Mary 1914 Christmas tins complete with bullet pencils.

I would love to add that to my collection but, with an estimated value of £6000 to £8000 my Wife may say something. I can imagine the conversation now "You paid what for a cardboard box!" - I think a divorce might be on the cards........

I will start saving!

Sepoy

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Interesting, I saw a similar box of Christmas PM gift tins in California earlier this year, the contents were being sold by the 'one'. no pencils though.

khaki

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If the cardboard box dates back to the GW, wonder where it's been languishing for the last 98+ years; if it's original, I would have expected it to have some external markings (consignment references, delivery details & similar) which might give a clue.

Reminded me of this local newspaper story from 1919 Click; A bit eerie to think that those up for auction are likely to have been intended for men who would obviously never have received them.

NigelS

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Sepoy,

Who is selling (need name and pack drill, as can't find it on The Saleroom, sorry!) ?

Don't understand how an x-ray can show the contents of metal tins... would they not all just come up as 81 black objects?

Not that I have any intention of bidding, just interested to see how they confirm the contents of this box... How do they know this is not a box of tins from the tin manufacturer, empty ready to be filled...!!

James

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Thanks for the link, Sepoy. Wow - the x-ray does penetrate the tins! How interesting! Sad fact is that £8k is a lot to spend on a tatty, plain box with a nice lead seal on it, which is, unopened, how it looks, meaning whoever buys it will probably open it and sell the tins individually - are there any obsessive Mary Tin collectors who would invest that much in order to retain it as is?...

Nice, interesting lot though, quite probably unique I would have thought - be interested to see what it fetches.

James

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I was amazed that it has survived sealed so long, but as you state it is a hell of a lot of money to pay for a cardboard box. In reality the box will probably be opened and the contents sold and so long as the original finish has survived they will probably give someone a profit (mind you would have to factor in the Auction costs).

What would be interesting is to see if anything else was with in the tins.

Either way, I wish I could afford to purchase the box and keep it sealed, but it is beyond me financially. I will, however, follow its progress with interest.

Sepoy

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Surely "content apart" the Auction House can prove that the "box" was delivered to the Front,in advance of Christmas 1914 ?

But was it delivered, and has it remained unused?

Or is that stretching facts plus pushing up earnings for the Auction House?

Plus,"who" kept the box "intact" for 90 years, and has now decided to sell it?

George

p.s.strange as it may seem to many, on the Forum, I have a Family inherited,used "at the time" Mary Box,which has contained for 90 years the Trio,of it's "user" but subsequently killed,how the emptied Box arrived home in Scotland,during the War years is beyond me.

So I "read" the original post but not the "poster" with doubt.

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Is there any reason why a link to the auction house can't be provided-surely we are not contravening any rules?

thanks

Mark

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Surely "content apart" the Auction House can prove that the "box" was delivered to the Front,in advance of Christmas 1914 ?

But was it delivered, and has it remained unused?

This does raise the question of the distribution chain involved for the boxes, and whether this particular consignment managed to get out of the country, let alone anywhere near a front.

The 1919 paper report I gave in the link in post 3 gave that those boxes were, by that time, at the Queen's regimental depot in Guildford. Although by no means impossible, it seems rather unlikely that they would have been shipped from there to where its battalions were serving in 1914, not distributed, then shipped back to Guildford. This might indicate that the initial stage of distribution would be for them to have been sent from the packers/distributors to UK regimental depot/HQs for the regiment to then send them, through its own distribution chain (I'm assuming that each regiment must have had such), to wherever its men were serving at the time (In this case for some reason it looks as if it didn't happen, so the boxes remained at Guildford) rather than attempting to send through other, non regimental specific supply channels.

It seems strange that, if it hasn't already done so, the auction house hasn't given more details of how it is the box has come to light - or at least come up for sale - after all these years. If maximum publicity is wanted for the lot, and with the fact that the 100th anniversary is looming, it's not difficult to imagine that this story, with the mystery of a box that's remain sealed for nearly a century & its contents revealed by X-rays, will feature in the national press shortly.

NigelS

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I would like to make it quite clear that I have no absolutely no connection with the box, or the Auction House, and I am not trying to "bump" up the final price. I simply thought this "Cardboard Box" may be of interest to Forum Members.

I also thought that it would be easy for Forum Members to track it down, but as this appears not to have been the case here is the link
http://www.dnw.co.uk/auctions/catalogue/lot.php?auction_id=276&lot_id=1725

I have also had the chance to discuss this matter with someone in the trade, and apparently a number of boxes and part boxes turned up a number of years ago from the original Manufacturers.
My friend added that when they heard about these boxes turning up, they were surprised that the brass had survived the hunt for Salvage during WWII.

Sepoy

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This does raise the question of the distribution chain involved for the boxes, and whether this particular consignment managed to get out of the country, let alone anywhere near a front.

NigelS

What is interesting about the X-ray image is that the bullet pencils weren't issued IN the tins, but with it. The contents came in a cardboard box: the fags etc in the tin, with ancillary items - pencils, pipes, lighters and so on - in the box alongside.

As for getting "out of the country": there was a number of categories of recipients - some of whom were at home - and, IIRC and for instance, parents of casualties were sent an empty tin.

GiftTin1.jpg

Cheers,

GT.

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No the pencils came in the tin held on a cardboard sheet that fitted inside the tin, without the tobacco or Cigarettes. I may be able to photograph my examples over the weekend.

Thank you for showing your rare example with the tinder and pipe. Needless to say, although I have a tinder, I do not have a pipe.

Sepoy

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Wow what a find that is and great the xray photo

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The Western Front Assoc Bulletin 80 has a very good feature on the history of the tin and contents. The very minimum contents seem to be the Christmas Card given with the tin to Widows and parents.

The tins with bullet pencils (and Xmas or New Year Cards) were given to Boys serving with the RN and all Troops serving in the British Isles.

Mark

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just for the interest of Forum members this sealed cardboard box, shown to contain 81 Princess Mary's Christmas Boxes after being x-rayed, was sold in auction today for a mere £8200.00 (plus auction fees).

Unfortunately, my piggy bank was not big enough to bid this time. I do hope that it is kept unopened for the future.

Sepoy

NB Anyone on the Forum lucky enough to have won this item??????

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Not me!! That's quite a figure - £120 each... What's the likelihood it was the IWM that bought it? Not sure how acquisitive they are, in general or now, in the lead up to the centenary...

Thanks for the update, anyway, Sepoy.

James

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  • 8 months later...
Guest Mary Cooper

You may have seen that the Daily Mail is today carrying a report of an unopened box of Princess Mary tins which was, according to DM, found in Ireland. I wonder if this is the same box discussed in this thread and bought at auction in September for £8,100 as reported by Sepoy? The box will be opened by the granddaughter of Lord Kitchener at the Chalke Valley History Festival next week and its contents sold for around £30,000. I was intrigued to read the article in the Surrey Advertiser about the 1.728 tins waiting to be claimed in Guildford. I wonder if there were boxes of these tins languishing in other Regimental Depots around the country?

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am far from an expert on these matters and have no idea of the value of a tin and pencil.I do think that £300 each seems a bit steep.Am I correct in this assumption?

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I am far from an expert on these matters and have no idea of the value of a tin and pencil.I do think that £300 each seems a bit steep.Am I correct in this assumption?

I think that if the boxes had contained the original sweets, as well as the pencil, £300 would have been a reasonable price to pay. I have never heard of the sweets surviving, in fact it would be quite interesting to know how they were wrapped.

And as for the Daily Mail article ".303 Shell Cases"........ Say no more :whistle:

Sepoy

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think that if the boxes had contained the original sweets, as well as the pencil, £300 would have been a reasonable price to pay. I have never heard of the sweets surviving, in fact it would be quite interesting to know how they were wrapped.

And as for the Daily Mail article ".303 Shell Cases"........ Say no more :whistle:

Sepoy

I have seen one with the sweet - it's a slab that more-or-less fills the tin. It had a label stuck to it - can't recall what it said.

This was at auction about 20 years ago and it was bought by the IWM for £800 then!!!

Cheers,

GT.

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I have seen one with the sweet - it's a slab that more-or-less fills the tin. It had a label stuck to it - can't recall what it said.

This was at auction about 20 years ago and it was bought by the IWM for £800 then!!!

Cheers,

GT.

£800.00 -Wow!

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Amazing price, would I pay it, definitely not, different for an institution though, I would have to measure it against what else I could get that I didn't have, whereas they already have most things.

khaki

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  • 2 months later...

Enclosed are two letters dated February 1915 in which Soldiers thank HRH Queen Mary for the Brass box that was distributed at Christmas 14.

Out of interest has anyone come across similar letters.

One of the press cuttings states that The Queen placed a slip in one of the boxes. Or was the same message placed in them all.

Would each unit have received the unique message ?

Gerry

HRH Queen Mary's gift.pdf

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