A Boer War Period Pine Officer’s Box & Artefacts; S. Shirley Royal Engineers c.1900


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Object Description

The painted pine traveling officer’s box, sign written to the top ‘S. Shirley Royal Engineers’, and richly textured in bitumen, opening to reveal a compartmentalised interior with upper slatted book shelf, bearing many officers’ tools and trinkets of war and having two secret sliding drawers, surviving in untouched condition from the Boer War period (1899-1902).

Object History


Object Literature

The officer would have used this box daily for sanitary, and mental health essentially. The texts would keep him mentally sane, and the utensils would have helped keep him physically healthy.

The items within the box include;

– Linen utensil pouch
– Two bars of original soap
– A trench art bullet casing fashioned into a cross and another trench art piece
– Three military buttons/badges
– Psalms Prayer Book
– Two Military Combat Manuals
– Shaving utensils to include a sharpener and cleaner
– Pocket Knife/Fork/Spoon
– Two bone handled brushes
– Pen Quills
– Ivorine type photograph
– Pocket binoculars
– Various lapel stars

The Royal Engineers are combat soldiers with a technical edge and have a role in every area of the battlefield. At the front they support the rest of the Army, bridging rivers, using explosives to destroy bridges or clearing routes through minefields.
Hundreds of thousands of troops from the British Empire served in the (Second) Boer War (1899-1902). Although outnumbered, the Boers were a skilled and determined enemy. After initial setbacks and a long period of guerrilla warfare, the British eventually prevailed, but not without adopting controversial tactics.

A real time capsule and a fascinating compendium of the British Empire.

Object Condition

The box and its contents are in original condition and have not been meddled with in any form. Some of the items bear other officers names so may have been thieved or gifted.

Object Details

Dealer Opening Times

By appointment only.

Dealer Contact

+44 (0)1767 640995
+44 (0)7729 213013

Dealer Location

The Onion Barn
Shoe Cottage
15 High Street
MK44 3NL

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