Strictly speaking, trench art is a phrase that describes folk art created by soldiers who were stuck in the trenches during World War I. But trench art as a more broadly defined genre includes all sorts of art objects made during numerous military conflicts going back to the early 1800s, including items produced by prisoners of war.

Leaving aside the question of era, there are several generally accepted categories of trench art. Some of the earliest examples are wooden boxes made by French prisoners captured by the English during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815).

By World War I, prisoners on both sides of that struggle were engraving and carving everything from spent shell casings to soup bones, transforming them into poignant mementos and useful historical records of the war to end all wars. Some pieces are particular to certain battle zones. For example, Turkish prisoners were known for their beaded snakes.

Those soldiers who did not have the time or tools to engrave spent artillery shells in the trenches often brought them home, where they would be embossed, fluted, and flared. Engravings on canteens and mess kits were probably done in the field, as were paintings on helmets.

Other examples of trench art include letter openers and knives made from bullets and shells; presentation plates hammered and engraved from flattened casings; lighters formed out of enemy belt buckles; and inkwells carefully crafted from fuse caps.

Soldiers recovering from their wounds also made trench art, usually in the form of embroidered badges and belts. Similar pieces made by wives and girlfriends waiting for their loved ones to return home are also considered trench art.


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Recent News: Trench Art

Source: Google News

First World War soldier's son "overwhelmed" to receive his trench art
Your Local Guardian, August 19th

Almost a century after it was created, a piece of trench art made by a soldier during the First World War has finally been presented to his son. Corporal Ernest Turtle, from the Royal Engineers, crafted a guard house from the case of a German shell...Read more

Continuing a Tradition of Memory - the 93d Annual Warriors' Day Parade ...
Centenary News, August 16th

with the co-operation of the CNE Archives, the 48th Highlanders Regimental Museum and the Archive of Ontario. The posters give a perspective on aspects of the war, from life at the training camp instituted at the CNE in 1914, to the production of...Read more

Discover life in the trenches
Isle of Man Today, August 12th

As well as the trench to explore, memorabilia includes soldiers' outfits, photographs, postcards, trench art and newspaper cuttings. There is also a bike from WW1 and two machine guns. It is open to visitors Monday to Wednesday and Friday, from 9am to ...Read more

Ballymena 1914 -The arts of war
Ballymena Times, August 12th

The picture above shows some examples of what has become known as 'trench art' -artefacts made from the casings of spent shells and other munition items. Several of the pieces were made by Cullybackey man Robert Letters who served with the Royal ...Read more

Newcastle's first Antiques and Collectables Fair is here
Newcastle Herald, August 8th

The bookends are known as ''trench art''. Dealer in possession of the bookends, Thomas Vaarson-Morel said there were plenty of similar ''boys toys'' at the show. A mad array of guns and military gear adorns the far wall of the centre and fine china and...Read more

La. exhibit captures the poster art of World War I
Nashua Telegraph, August 2nd

The display also includes several German war posters, many patriotic or sentimental but from the point of view of the enemy, meant to stir patriotism or raise money for war loans. Visitors also will be able to view trench art that soldiers, called...Read more

Exhibit captures the poster art of World War I
Washington Times, August 1st

Visitors also will be able to view trench art soldiers, called “doughboys” or “Sammies” after Uncle Sam, crafted from what was at hand. In addition to the posters and display items from the Norton's gun and uniform collections, the show will feature...Read more

WE REMEMBER: Six Nations joins in fight
Brantford Expositor, August 1st

Several of the items -- including a wonderful piece of trench art made from a shell, the cutlery and a canteen -- were loaned to the centre from the family of Edith (Anderson) Monture. The piece of trench art was something she picked up from the...Read more