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 >>
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.