This gift ‘tin’ is a small but very interesting item that is one of the many objects on display in our museum for the exhibition that we are holding throughout August to mark the outbreak of World War 1. These artefacts, including letters, postcards and photographs, really do provide a rich and quite fascinating local perspective to an event that was the first real test of Australia as a nation.
Object: An Australian War Contingent Association gift tin with original chocolate contents, postcard and label. The rectangular gift tin is made of lacquered tin-plate and has a hinged lid printed in black with the Australian coat of arms in the centre and ‘1915.’ on either side.
Beneath this are the words ‘TO THE AUSTRALIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE FROM THE AUSTRALIAN WAR CONTINGENT ASSOCIATION, LONDON. “A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ONE AND ALL.”‘.
Original contents: The tin originally contained Fry’s chocolate, with the yellow, black and orange label reading ‘FRY’S ROYAL CHOCOLATE 300 GRANDS PRIX, GOLD MEDALS, ETC. Makers to H.M. THE KING, H.M. THE QUEEN and H.M. QUEEN ALEXANDRA.’ In the top left corner of the label is the British royal coat of arms, and in the right is Queen Alexandra’s coat of arms. ‘BY APPOINTMENT’ is printed below each coat of arms.
The gift tin also contained a novelty postcard from J. S. Fry & Sons, Ltd. It featuresd a series of red, blue, white, yellow and black circles which represent the colours of the allied forces, Belgium, England, France and Russia. Gently rotating the card produces an optical effect where the circles appear to revolve.
The Australian War Contingent Association in London produced gift tins such as this which were distributed to Australian soldiers to celebrate Christmas and the New Year.