The Bugler

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From Ruin to Beauty

Trench ArtFrom vases to lighters to model airplanes, the spoils of war have been turned into objects of beauty and interest. These items of trench art, became popular during the Great War, and as we enter a new century are becoming collectors' items in the US and Europe. Trench art was first known during the Napoleonic War but was popularized during World War I when men spent long hours in the front line and reserve trenches. Incredible vases were made from shell casings, lighters transformed from the enemies' belt buckles and inkwells crafted from fuse caps. Men became specialists in certain areas, with lighters being particularly popular and trading of items was a busy business. Trench art is also known as Prisoner of War art as prisoners would do anything with their hands to help pass the time. Although the prisoners would not have access to shell casings and other materials they would sculpt with old bones and wood.

Some trench art was made after a soldier returned home with leftover war materials but engravings on canteens and mess kits were probably done in the field, as were paintings on helmets. Knives and letter openers were made from bullets and shells. Elaborate engravings and sculpting was done by heating the casings and using punches and handmade instruments that they made in the trenches.Trench Art

Several books have been written in recent years about Trench Art (see amazon.com) and eBay and other auction sites have wonderful pictures of items to view or purchase. The website, collectorsweekly.com, has a weekly newsletter to review the most watched eBay auction items of Trench Art.

...for more information see trenchartcollection.com, trenchart.org, and Wikipedia.com.

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