Princess Mary Pencil Cartridge

I’m trying to find details of the cartridge pencils distributed in the 1914 Christmas gifts initiated by Princess Mary. In particular, were any such pencils supplied by CAC in Australia? Considering the varieties involved in these gifts of which there were over 2.6 million spread over 6 years it wouldn’t surprise me.
CAC had a reputation for gift giving, donating 1 million rounds of .303 to the Forces in WW1.

I think it’s possible the attached images are authentic, coming from a mother over 70 years ago with thew comment it was a Princess Mary pencil. I’d like to be able to confirm this.

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Mel Carpenter is a bit of an aficionado on the pens

I too hope Mel will reply.
I have to say all those I’ve seem had a straight sided but round nose somewhat MK MI VI shaped tinned or silver plated? “bullet” jacket .

The case does seem to be proper.

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Pete,

I too hope Mel will see this.
Thanks also for your photo and information. I’ve found another guy with a number of the same “pencils” and he says the holder is sterling silver.
The headstamp raises a number of questions. Was it from Australia or New Zealand, or with Greenwood & Batley supplying so many rounds to CAC, could it have been direct from them.? If it was CAC Australia the case was made prior to May 1906, but this doesn’t help much.
So far I have found that 39 boxes were sent out in 1919 to the Australian museums and for local authorities of the larger towns. These were described as having a silver mounted pencil holder.
Another simple question with a not so simple answer. Yes, it is authentic, but how did CAC get involved.?

The bullet is tarnished on mine, but it has the “Sterling Silver” stamped, like this one.
Sterling Silver
(Picture from the net.)
Dan

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Thanks Dan. All details are helpful
Cheers
John

John,
The hs on mine is: K14 VII
(hit FC, “SterlingSilver” pencil bt., Princess Mary Christmas Fund)
Same case stamp.
Dan

Hi John, if you write @Mel (or whichever member you want to comment) they will be notified of the thread. I’m sure Mel will be along shortly now…

Thanks Dan and Darren.
The Kynoch K14 VII is certainly correct for the time frame.
This simple little question is keeping me rather busy :smile:
I have a feeling the facts on the CAC headstamped ones may be hard to pin down.
John

John,
I’ll just show a few pictures, to show what the Christmas Fund was about.



Dan

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Dan, thanks, very interesting display.
I guess the top left wallet is the one which contained the writing paper and pencil.
John

I have two of these cartridges, and an empty “Princess Mary” embossed tin as shown above. One of mine has the RN Sterling Silver bullet jacket containing the identical red pencil shown in the great picture that Dan posted. The bullet in mine has tarnished to the usual black tone that silver takes on. The headstamp on that cartridge is R^L 11 VII.

The other one is missing the pencil in the bullet, which is the same silver-color RN FMJ bullet, without any core at all. It is not Sterling silver, as it does not trarnish, so am assuming it is polished nickel, or if they had them that early, chrome-plated (also, it is not marked “Sterling Silver”). That one has the headstamp KN ^ ^ VII. The broad arrows are at the One o’clock and Four o’clock position on the head.

Both rounds have snapped copper-cup primers.

On the one shown to begin this thread, I would think the case is proper as well as did Pete. It has the usual shallow cannulure right at the top of the shoulder that both of mine do. However, while over the years, I have seen over a dozen of these in various collections and displays, they have all had the same RN, silver-colored bullet in them. I don’t even know what that is in the CAC case shown. I have never seen anything like it before in my life, whether a bullet jacket or any other object.

John Moss

Hi John,
Your comment on the “bullet” type does raise an interesting point. I now need to find out if any of the other examples have a similar shape. The owner says it is brass, so does create a doubt.
John

IAA 421 Princess Mary.pdf (976.8 KB) Thanks for the heads-up, Pepper. I’m guilty as charged, having been a very serious collector of all things related to the Princess Mary “Cartridge Boxes,” as I called them. They held many other things, but for us, the classic is a box, or tin, with a Princess Mary .303 cartridge with her cypher stamped on its shoulder and containing a roundnose sterling silver (so marked) jacket with a short pencil inside. Some jackets (envelopes) were CN. The cartridge is inserted in a double-slotted piece of cardboard to secure it inside the box. There are lots of different pencils, but the best have a London address stamped on them. Any fired .303 case was a candidate to be used in the project, so the headstamp means nothing except that the case found its way to England from wherever it was made.

I wrote an article for the IAA Journal that was published in Issue #421, Sep/Oct 2001, and I’ll attach a pdf of it here. The Imperial War Museum has the original dies used and other related memorabilia, but be careful what you say when you visit. The last time I was there I was almost escorted out of the building by a very angry curator when I pointed out the the Remington Model 1903-A3, with a 1943 barrel date, was not appropriate for the otherwise great WWI diorama. He did not appreciate the correction, especially by a Yank.

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Mel,
Thanks for the article on the Princess Mary Christmas boxes. Pretty much answers all my questions except for the shape of the “bullet” in the above photo. Am now doubting its authenticity.

In case you haven’t seen the pages from the Australian War Memorial about a few other gifts I’ve attached a pdf of the letters involved. Tried to but the file was too big .If interested I may be able to email a copy to you.
Cheers
John

John,

Sorry, but your bullet is not right. All authentic PM “Bullets” have the RN shape seen in the various photos, this to allow the insertion of a short wood pencil. Don’t know what yours is.

Try cutting the file in half and sending two parts.

Mel

Mel,
I’ve got Acrobat DC and tried to split the file, or compress it, but cannot get past the pressure to upgrade to DC Pro. In my old age I object to being forced into something I don’t want, when I already have the tools.
I’ll look at it again when I have more time. Maybe easier to give the website. Maybe not.
edited to remove some details.
Cheers
John

Mel
I’ve saved the pages as 2 Word files so will see if that works. Couldn’t upload so converted to Pdf.
First page (not shown) is The Reference AWM16, Control Symbol 4386/1/121.
Princess Mary Part 1.pdf (753.0 KB)

Princess Mary Part 2.pdf (585.2 KB)

Hope these are interesting.
Cheers
John

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John,

That worked perfectly and the files are wonderful. Thanks. That’s the first time I’ve seen the Fund’s letterhead. They provide great insight into how some of the tins were distributed after the war. It was interesting to learn that there were 2,321,553 of them made. No wonder there are so many variations.

Mel

Mel
Thanks for the feedback, glad you found something new. I was hoping it would work. I hate being held to ransom by Adobe. Already have the program which had the facilities to do what I want, but wasn’t allowed to do so unless I signed up.
A messy work around but good to know it worked.
Cheers
John