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My grandmother's "Arras letter opener"

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    Posted 6 years ago

    Busha
    (4 items)

    My grandmother was a nurse in World War 1. She lived from 1878-1981. She had this letter opener in her desk that I inherited. All I know is that there is a six number serial # on it which is hard to read. It ends in 438 I think. It has a soldiers head on it and on the actual bullet is a crown. On the long opener part, the word "ARRAS" is written on it. I believe it to be made of brass and it measures about 7" long. It is in beautiful condition. I would love to hear more about where it comes from and and any other history about it. It is a very special piece.

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    Comments

    1. Busha, 6 years ago
      So, you think that this would be a tourist item that my Grandmother may have purchased some time after 1919? Where are you located and how do you have such fantastic information?
    2. Busha, 6 years ago
      Could you tell me what the number stamped on the shoulder would represent?
    3. Busha, 6 years ago
      Thank you so much for the helpful information. Barbara
    4. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
      Trench art letter opener.

      These were made during and after the war (War ended in 1918)-- hard to tell exactly when this was made. Trench art was a "cottage industry" both during and after the war.

      This particular example of trench art is not being reproduced-- I have NO DOUBT that it is original.

      I have several similar examples-- check my listings on this site. I have a trench art collection numbering several hundred pieces and have collected for over 30 years.

      scott
    5. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
      It is trench art no matter what is stamped on it.

      Trench art is defined as war refuse turned in utilitarian or decorative items. There is no requirement to that it be one of a kind, soldier made, or made in a trench.

      Here is a link to the best book out there on trench art:

      http://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories/82033-trench-art-an-illustrated-history-by-j

      Your letter opener or a similar example can be found in the book.

      scott
    6. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
      Here are some of my examples posted on Collectors Weekly:

      http://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories/34059-trench-art-letter-opener-for-the-battle

      http://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories/19597-ww1-trench-art-driving-band-letter-opene

      http://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories/28186-ww1-trench-art-shrapnel-letter-opener-wi

      scott
    7. Busha, 6 years ago
      Do either of you know if there is any current value to the Arras Letter Opener. It will be over a hundred years old quite soon.
    8. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
      Yes-- but very minimal.

      These are popular, reasonably priced, and available in almost an endless variety; so there is collector interest.

      I would put it in the $25- $50 range.

      scott
    9. Busha, 6 years ago
      Thank so much Scott. Much appreciated.
    10. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
      Glad to help out.

      scott
    11. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 6 years ago
      I seem to be trailing Scott of late. What he said is correct, and I would only add that is an 8mm Lebel cartridge, used by both the French and the Belgians. The crown would indicate Belgium, as it is rendered in the Belgian style and France was a republic and had no monarch.

      Arras is/was in France, but close enough to Belgium to make sense.
    12. Busha, 6 years ago
      Chris, what do you think the value of it is?
    13. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 6 years ago
      Scott is the CW expert on that - so go with his $25-$50 estimate.

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