This is a unique, fascinating, trench art vase hand carved from a large cow bone. Trench art is a very interesting collecting area. It was created by soldiers who had a great deal of time on their hands, whether they were active soldiers stationed in the trenches (hence the term “trench art”), recovering from wounds in the hospital, or POW’s. Soldiers from all WW I’s participants created such trench art as bracelets, necklaces, rings, broaches, matchbox holders, lamps, vases, etc. [Naturally, our focus is on items created by Imperial German soldiers].
Most vases that we see have been created from artillery shell casings. When I first acquired THIS vase, I thought I had hit the lottery because it looked like it was made of ivory! It measures 10″ in height, 2 ½” in diameter at the base, and 1 ½” in diameter at the lip. Had it been made from ivory, it would have been extremely valuable. Further study and research proved that the source from which the vase was fashioned was NOT an elephant’s tusk but a cow bone! This was confirmed by a visit to the “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” Museum in St. Augustine, Florida. The museum featured a pair of similar vases, along with the story about who produced them.
One of the first things we notice about the vase is its polished, beautifully finished surface. Its shape is also striking, reflecting the bone’s contour, most of which is essentially three-sided. All of the vase’s decorations have been carved in high-relief out of the bone, while the rest of the surface has been polished smooth. The base is decorated with high-relief stone blocks similar to those in a castle or wall. They encircle the entire base, measuring 1 ½” in height and 8″ in circumference. The vase’s lip has an abstract design that resembles a high-relief letter “R” with its bottom and top truncated by high-relief trim bands. In between the base and lip, two of the vase’s sides are dominated by a gorgeous rose and two rosebuds on a leafy stem that winds its way up to about an inch below the lip’s carving. The other side features “1917” at 1 ½” below the lip carving. [1917 is the year the vase was fashioned]. About an inch below the year is a simple shield enclosing the initials “MT.” Another inch below the initial shield, and about an inch above the block “wall,” is a circle containing a triskelion (a symbol containing three spirals or three bent human legs). Although its legs are facing the opposite direction, this probably represents the city of Füssen’s Coat-of-Arms. [Füssen is a small city located in southern Bavaria near the castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau]. Chances are that the vase’s carver was from Füssen.
This item’s absolute beauty has quite transformed its humble origins. I bet if you put a rose or two in it and presented it to that special person in your life, they might take a different view of this dusty hobby that you love so much. Combine it with some of the other beautiful items on our Patriotic Jewelry Merchandise Pages (click here to see), and totally blow your loved one’s mind!