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Object: Casket or workbox

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Title Casket or workbox
Production Soldiers Embroidery Industry (embroiderer), 1920-30, England
Medium summary Silk covered wooden casket/workbox with brass fittings, the surface embroidered in silk using black work technique
Materials silk, thread, wood, brass
Classification boxes, workboxes
Technique embroidering, hand sewing, carpentry
Dimensions Overall: 172mm (Height) x 265mm (Length) x 142mm (Width/Depth)
Overall: 250mm (Height) x 265mm (Length) x 142mm (Width/Depth)
Credit line Gift of Her Majesty Queen Mary, 1946
Registration number PC000875

This is an exceptional example of traditional Elizabethan black work reinterpreted in the 1920s by a very skilled, disabled soldier (or soldiers) as a royal gift to Queen Mary (1867-1953). The organisation which presented the gift, The Disabled Soldiers Embroidery Industry, was a favourite charity of the Queen who took a great deal of interest in it and often visited those involved.

The Disabled Soldiers Embroidery Industry was founded by the ‘Friends of the Elderly’ charity after the First World War. Very fine work was produced by extremely disabled men, often lying on their backs or lacking an arm or fingers, and was sold very successfully. One altar frontal was designed for the Chapel at Buckingham Palace and another went to the liner Queen Mary.

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