The Hunt is on for WWI Memorabilia as the Centenary Approaches

Artifacts from WWI have been growing in popularity as of recent years. With the one hundredth anniversary of the war approaching, it is still a large part of our planet’s history and relics from the era are increasing in value to history buffs as well as those who simply like to own a piece of international antiquity. This inflation of value has also put a stronger emphasis on the search for and collection of these artifacts.

Much of the memorabilia that is becoming more and more sought after as the centenary of the war approaches actually comes directly from the owners’ homes, heirlooms passed on for years. One such item which surfaced just last month was a Princess Mary gift box, an item with intriguing history. Princess Mary had desired to gift all soldiers with a present from the Royal Family for Christmas following the start of battle. Her gift box contained a portrait of her as well as tobacco goods and paraphernalia for smokers, and candies for those who did not enjoy smoking. Nurses received cocoa sweets, and everybody received a holiday card from Princess Mary herself.

These brass gift boxes, now highly valuable war relics, donned an image of the princess on top, and were made small enough that soldiers could cart around the goods inside without much hassle. A warship was pictured on the underside of the boxes, as well as a reminder of the year in which they were given.

The ironic part about this last detail is that these now-valuable artifacts did not, by and large, arrive on their intended date. There were literally hundreds of thousands, even millions, to be given away, and many did not arrive until almost two years after they were sent out to the troops, the Scunthorpe Telegraph reports.

Needless to say, these relics are worth much more if one can be found that still contains the gifts inside, though the one recently auctioned off made just as much by including another, even more personalized war relic: the medals of the box’s recipient.

These gift boxes are but one example of the sort of memorabilia that will yield big bucks to collectors willing to sell. Just about any sort of medals, artwork, or even publications that existed during the First World War may qualify among the artifacts now considered of immense value in the face of the centenary. Due to the large number of people whose relatives may have served in the war, there is no telling in whose abodes these priceless relics may be lurking, just waiting to be polished off and sold for a neat bundle.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE