My Project 365 - 17


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My Project 365 - 17

17 Jan 2014 9:44PM   Views : 370 Unique : 282

Imperium Britannicum.

A few years ago my lovely wife bought me a tin, for our wedding anniversary, nothing perhaps remarkable about that, it certainly wasn't our tin anniversary.

But this tin has a story to tell, sadly i don't know the full story, partularly reagarding previous owner, but i know some of it story.

In November 1914, an advertisement was placed in the national press inviting monetary contributions to a 'Sailors & Soldiers Christmas Fund' which had been created by Princess Mary, the seventeen year old daughter of King George V and Queen Mary. The purpose was to provide everyone wearing the King's uniform and serving overseas on Christmas Day 1914 with a 'gift from the nation'.

The response was truly overwhelming, and it was decided to spend the money on an embossed brass box, based on a design by Messrs Adshead and Ramsey. The contents varied considerably; officers and men on active service afloat or at the front received a box containing a combination of pipe, lighter, 1 oz of tobacco and twenty cigarettes in distinctive yellow monogrammed wrappers. Non-smokers and boys received a bullet pencil and a packet of sweets instead. Indian troops often got sweets and spices, and nurses were treated to chocolate. Many of these items were despatched separately from the tins themselves, as once the standard issue of tobacco and cigarettes was placed in the tin there was little room for much else apart from the greeting card.


The 'tin' itself was approximately 5" long by 3" wide by 1" deep with a double-skinned, hinged, lid. The surface of the lid depicts the head of Princess Mary in the centre, surrounded by a laurel wreath and flanked on either side by the 'M' monogram. At the top, a decorative cartouche contains the words 'Imperium Britannicum' with a sword and scabbard either side. On the lower edge, another cartouche contains the words 'Christmas 1914', which is flanked by the bows of battleships forging through a heavy sea. In the corners, small roundels house the names of the Allies: Belgium, Japan, Montenegro and Servia; France and Russia are at the edges, each superimposed on three furled flags or standards.

So that's the beginning of the story and pretty much all i know, i have no doubt it visited the trenches, but after that it's life is a mystery until it was bought by my good lady.

I would dearly love to know whos it was and where it's been, but both are secrets that only it knows.

I did use it as my tobacco tin until i changed jobs and decided it was far to precious to be stood on by some big booted builder. So for now it sits safely at home.

Right rambling over, feel free to leave a comment.



woolybill1 Avatar
woolybill1 Plus
16 39 79 United Kingdom
18 Jan 2014 1:44PM
Many thanks indeed for posting this, Den, and for drawing my attention to it.

I think I have seen such a tin before, many years ago and most likely in a showcase in the Imperial War Museum in London. If I remember right it was in original condition, in other words with a short, stubby briar pipe and packets of cigarettes and pipe tobacco. This one is far more interesting, having actually been used rather than preserved in advance.

Most definitely worth preserving and recording photographically - which you have achieved to my great satisfaction!


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