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…
All those in full time education on the Isle of Man recently received a specially minted coin to mark the First World War Armistice Centenary.
In a move designed to ensure the younger generations do not forget the sacrifices made by those who fought in First World War, they were each given a distinctive 50p coin featuring selectively coloured red poppies. Each coin, commissioned by the Treasury, was presented in its own individual display case to ensure that it could be kept safe and handed down to future generations.
The reverse of this coin features the First World War soldier from the Douglas war memorial, with the words ‘Their name liveth for evermore’ and the dates ‘1914 1918’, beneath which are the Roman numerals ‘XI.XI.XI’ as a reminder of the final time and date of the War’s end.
Coins to enter circulation
There’s also great news for collectors on the Island as Cupro-Nickel versions of these coins, without the selective colouring, will be released into general circulation.
A launch event was held at the Legislative Buildings on the Island with the President of Tynwald, Speaker of the House of Keys, the Chief Minister and Treasury Minister in attendance, along with a number of other specially invited guests.
Specially commissioned Proof version
Working in partnership with the IOM Government, The Westminster Collection developed a proof version of this hugely poignant coin, struck to the highest possible finish. When you consider the importance of the centenary anniversary alongside the tiny worldwide edition limit of just 1,950,it comes as no surprise that they sold out in a matter of days.
However, The Westminster Collection are also offering specially struck collector quality “Brilliant Uncirculated” coins that are guaranteed not to have the scratches and chips of normal circulation coins.
What’s more, this coin has been officially approved and produced in partnership with The Royal British Legion.
10% from the sale of each coin will be donated to the Legion who provide lifelong support for the Armed Forces community- serving men and women, veterans and their families.
If you’re interested…
Today you can secure your very own First World War Centenary 50p. All you have to do is click here >>
The official new Poppy Coin has just been issued in support of The Royal British Legion and this year it features a stylised The Royal British Legion red poppy, with a poignant nod to the First World War Centenary. Upon closer inspection the singular poppy is made up of 99 individually engraved red ink poppies, making 100 poppies in total for the centenary year of WWI.
I caught up with designer Christopher Lloyd to ask him about the story behind his design:
“Considering it’s an incredibly important year, the coin had to make reference to the centenary year. However, as it is the only official coin to support The Royal British Legion an essential part of the coin had to be the Legion’s stylised poppy.”
“I designed the coin to feature 99 poppies, all of which are highlighted in red ink and encompassed within one much larger poppy, to directly make reference to the First World War Centenary.”
“It has been an honour to design the 2018 Poppy coin. I hope it helps to support the important work of The Royal British Legion.”
A coin for every collection
This year a whole range of different coin specifications are to be struck, meaning there is a coin for every collector. From a special Proof quality cupro-nickel £5 coin – right up to an astonishing 5oz Gold edition, the new Poppy Coin is undoubtedly a moving tribute to mark Remembrance Day during such an important centenary year.
Officially issued in support of The Royal British Legion
To support the work of The Royal British Legion, The Westminster Collection have organised for a donation from the sale of each coin to go directly to the charity, helping them to continue to provide financial, social and lifelong support to all who have served and are currently serving in the British Armed Forces and their families.
What’s more, since our partnership began we are on target to raise an incredible £1,000,000 in support of The Royal British Legion.
If you’re interested…
The 2018 Remembrance Poppy Coins are available now. Click here for more details and to add one to your collection today >>