As they left for war in Autumn 1914, the soldiers, and the country, believed that it would all be over by Christmas of that year. We know now that the brutal conflict was to drag on for another 4 years, but Christmas 1914 became famous for being the first respite from the war.
Many felt the need to show give a small token of appreciation to those who had put their lives on the line. And so, on 30th October 1914, Princess Mary launched her Christmas Gift fund. She asked the public:
“I want you now to help me send a Christmas present from the whole nation to every sailor afloat and every soldier at the front.”
And they did. Her appeal was met with an enthusiastic response, eventually raising over £162,000 (an incredible sum at the time). This led to the memorable Princess Mary’s Gift Box. It was a beautiful embossed brass box, 128 x 84 x 30mm (5 x 3.3 x 1.2 inches), containing one ounce of pipe tobacco, 20 cigarettes, pipe, a tinder lighter, a Christmas card and a photo of Princess Mary.
On Christmas Day 1914 alone, almost 500,000 Christmas tins were distributed to British service personnel. The boxes were sent to “every sailor afloat and every soldier at the front” in accordance with Princess Mary’s wishes.
A large number of these tins were subsequently damaged in the war, with many being blown apart by shells or rusting away in the wet conditions in the trench. However, the boxes that have survived are now distinctive mementoes of the war’s first Christmas.
They are also absolutely fascinating historic artefacts – each tin is totally unique and may have even been there in the trenches 100 years ago protecting a young tommy’s keepsakes. They each tell their own story, and just looking at them you can see the small bits of damage, the smells and stains that tell the story of how they survived 100 years to remind us of the soldiers who suffered the extreme conditions of the Great War.
As the end of the First World War Armistice Centenary year approaches, it is especially important to remember those soldiers who would have received one of these tins. It’s hard not to think about a young tommy, sitting in his trench on Christmas Day, opening his Princess Mary Christmas tin as carols drifted across No-Man’s Land.
If you’re interested…
We have 50 genuine Christmas Tins available and ready to deliver for Christmas, with 5 coins all from 1918. But with such a limited number available you will need to be quick to own this ultimate Armistice Christmas gift…
100 years ago this year, at 11 o’clock on 11th of November, the guns of war finally fell silent. The First World War was over.
While many fathers, sons, uncles and brothers came home, millions lay where they fell, on the Battlefields of Europe. Those who were lucky enough to be identified were placed in makeshift graves, often only identified by a rifle placed in the earth with his steel helmet placed on top as a final memorial.
To commemorate the Armistice Centenary, The Royal Canadian Mint have issued a remarkable new coin that honours each and every fallen soldier.
Struck in the shape of a WWI Brodie Helmet, it is more deeply curved surface than any other concave or convex-shaped coin I’ve seen before. The design is so unique in fact, that the Mint have kept the minting technique a closely guarded secret.
Although the original helmet would have been cast from Steel, this coin has been struck in the very finest .9999 or “four nines” silver, this is the purest grade of silver available. The Royal Canadian Mint is one of the very few Mints in the world with enough minting expertise able to strike coins with this incredible high relief finish. It’s an exceptional feat of craftsmanship.
What’s more the attention to detail is outstanding, each coin has been given a final antique finish and there are even engraved cracks and markings which complete the helmet’s battle-worn appearance. A reminder of the hardships endured by those who fought.
The amount of 2018 Silver ‘Helmet-Shaped’ coins available is very low. A worldwide edition limit of just 6,500 has been set by the Mint, but of course many of these won’t even make it out of Canada. Without any doubt, this has to be one of the most collectable issues ever struck.
The First World War will always be known as one of Man Kind’s darkest hours but poignant issues like this one allow us to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
If you’re interested…
We have just 500 WWI Lest We Forget Silver ‘Helmet-Shaped’ coins available for UK collectors, but to get one you’ll have to act quickly.
Each year, The Royal Mint marks important British anniversaries, events or accomplishments on our coins and today we are pleased to reveal UK’s new coin designs for 2017.
Scroll down and I’m sure you’ll agree 2017 is set to be another significant year for coin collectors, with some exceptional designs that are sure to look resplendent when struck to the ‘collector’s favourite’ Proof finish…
The Sir Isaac Newton 50p
The 50p coin commemorates the revolutionary scientific and mathematical genius, Sir Isaac Newton and his remarkable legacy. He discovered the laws of gravity and motion and remains one of the most famous men in history. This coin really needs to be seen in real life as the concentric design cleverly catches the light differently from every angle.
The Jane Austen £2 Coin
2017 sees the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death – and this £2 has been specially designed to commemorate one of the most famous authors of all time. Featuring an unusual ‘cameo’ design and Austen’s signature, this coin is sure to be highly sought-after.
The First World War Aviation £2 Coin
The latest in The Royal Mint’s series of two pound coins commemorating World War I, this particular issue pays tribute to the role of the air force in the conflict. Designed by tangerine the striking aerial perspective is a first for a UK £2 coin.
The House of Windsor £5 Coin
100 years of Royal tradition are honoured with this exceptional £5 coin – commemorating the Centenary of the House of Windsor. In 1917 King George V changed the name of the British Royal Family from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the now familiar Windsor. The coin’s pleasingly traditional design features Windsor Castle.
The King Canute £5 Coin
In a nod to Britain’s storied history, the second 2017 £5 coin marks the 1,000th anniversary of King Canute’s accession to the throne. Most famous for his attempts to prove his power by turning back the tide, Canute is also hailed as the first ‘king of all England.’
Some of these designs are really exceptional, and they are certain to become more sought-after in years to come. Which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments!
If you’re interested…
You can now own all the new 2017 coins in the DateStamp™ UK Specimen Year Set. Each coin has been struck to Brilliant Uncirculated quality and encapsulated alongside a 1st Class Stamp officially postmarked by Royal Mail with the issue date – 1/1/2017. Click here for more details…