Trench art was one of WW I’s most popular art forms, wherein battlefield debris was transformed into useful products. Soldiers at the war’s fronts and those recovering from wounds in hospitals had a great deal of time on their hands. They also had the imagination to convert artillery shell casings, shrapnel, and driving bands in art objects that proved popular with the people back home. The shell casings became vases of all sorts, shrapnel was transmuted into knives and letters openers, and driving bands became bracelets.
Today’s offering reveals an artillery shell altered to become a lidded container suitable for any desk or table at home. I am very impressed by what a soldier managed to do with this particular shell. It started life as a brass 77mm (7.7cm) artillery shell. He cut the shell down to a height of 2 ½.” He then created a floral design on its exterior that features a shield displaying “1917” in its center. The design was laboriously tapped into the casing’s exterior with a sharp point, such as that from a knife or bayonet.
Our soldier also fitted a lid to the container’s top, effectively transforming the shell casing into a jar. Any number of objects could have been placed in its interior–paper clips, tobacco, candies or whatever its recipient desired. The lid’s top also sports an elaborate design created in the same manner as the container’s exterior artwork. The initials “RC” also appear to have been incorporated into the lid design’s center. The way the lid fits on the shell casing further demonstrates that the man devoted a great deal of time on every aspect of his project.
It is a very handsome piece that would greatly enhance any desk, table or bookcase.