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37mm Verdun Trench Art Souvenir

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The 37mm round was employed by virtually every country involved in WW1. It proved however to be under powered when used against heavily fortified emplacements and armor. This trench art example shows the Cross of Lorraine over VERDUN surrounded by what appears to be a grapevine. The Cross of Lorraine is a symbol of French patriotism which can be traced back to the 12th century with the Templar Order of Knights and even further then that.






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NO EXPERT I have seen many 37 mm shells embossed in this manner or in similar style Were they commercially produced for the civilian market?

They seem quite ornate to have produced under combat conditions



I have a several comments/ thoughts on trench art:


While some folks have a more stringent definition, most trench art collectors classify anything (utilitarian or decorative) made out of war refuse as trench art. There is no requirement that the object be made by a soldier or actually under combat conditions (in a trench).


A significant quantity of trench art was made post- war in larger commercial ventures; however, soldiers did actually make various objects during down time from combat. Trench art was a cottage industry during/ after the war, providing work/ income for soldiers and civilians alike; looking to feed the need for War souvenirs.


The craftsmanship of soldier and civilian makers varies. Soldier handy work and ability to create elaborate pieces is surprising to many. Remember, during the WW1 era, metal work and hand craftsmanship was not an unusual skill.


The type of work exhibited in this particular example certainly could have been easily created by a soldier craftsman.


For those wishing to see actual period documentation (photos, letters, etc...), I'd recommend Jane Kimball's book: "Trench Art: An Illustrated History".



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Thanks for the input Scott. I agree. Also, a soldier in the trenches on the front lines would not be engaging in creating a souvenir. Can you imagine a soldier banging away with a hammer of some sort to fashion a design on a empty shell casing! He would likely be shot by one of his own for giving away their position. It was my understanding that this kind of work was done local civilians, convalescing soldiers and POW`s. What I can`t quite understand is why after witnessing such carnage would one want a memento created from the very thing that caused so much death and destruction.

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I have always thought that this kind of world war one trench art was made by the French probably during the occupation, using brass they found on the many battlefields.



Soldier production of trench art is well documented in Kimball's Trench Art book.


Some of the photos show soldiers creating trench art in/ near the actual trenches. Fluting on the base of shells was often done by the gears on artillery pieces.


I don't know any specifics on the break down of soldier done vs. civilian.


In the trenches of WW1, I don't know that there was any great fear of giving away your position by making noise. Most trench lines were known by friendly and enemy alike. Of course, this would not be the case with a forward position or a raiding party.



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