Unopened boxes within an unopened 100 years old case.
Brigadier (Retired) David Martin, uk4u Thanks! Chairman and Trustee is delighted to have been invited to attend an exciting event at the Chalke Valley History Festival on Saturday 28th June; the opening by Lady Emma Kitchener (the great great niece of Earl Kitchener of Khartoum) of a sealed packing case, thought to contain over eighty new and unused brass Princess Mary Gift Boxes for Soldiers who were serving on the Western Front during Christmas 1914. The carton has recently come to light having remained untouched for nearly 100 years.
David will be accompanied by Wing Commander (Retired) Charles Wookey, uk4u Thanks! Director and Trustee, who said “until the package is opened on the 28th June we will not know for sure what's in the boxes. The package has been X rayed and that indicated the package could contain nine rows each stacked with nine boxes and some bullet pencils”.
Barrie McFarlane, a collector of 19th and 20th century military and travel furniture and accessories, contacted uk4u after speaking with the Imperial War Museum. Barrie acquired the unopened package out of curiosity, not knowing that it may contain a treasure trove from the First World War.
The sealed packing case itself is tied with string, the knot of which is covered in an unbroken wax seal on which is embossed a large M. This letter is of the same design as that on the lid of an original Princess Mary Christmas Box as well as on the actual bullet pencil itself. Other than the letter M on the wax seal, the package is unmarked.
X rays have identified what appears to be 81 individual boxes, but what they contain and the condition of the contents remains an intriguing mystery. When the package is opened some enclosed papers may reveal where they were made, and, for whom they were intended.
It is expected that a small number of the unused brass Princess Mary Gift boxes will be offered for sale at the Chalke Valley History Festival on Saturday 28th June at 3.30 pm, with a percentage going to Military Charities.
The Festival runs from Monday 23rd June to Sunday 29th June. Entry is free during the week and only £3 on Saturday and Sunday. Further details at www.cvhf.org.uk or call 01722 781 133.