This is a fancy, brass, trench art match safe. The brass probably came from an artillery shell casing that was dismantled to make various trench art pieces. Trench art was created by soldiers from all WW I’s armies, when they had extra time on their hands in the trenches between battles. They took bits and pieces of gear and fashioned them into artistic objects. Some common examples were belt buckles converted into match safes, as well as jewelry and letter openers fashioned from shrapnel shards. These often-bored soldiers showed amazing creativity. A great deal of trench art also was created in hospitals as therapy for soldiers recovering from mild to severe wounds.
Many trench art match safes were fashioned in a manner similar to this example, except that their centers were commonly decorated with belt buckle. Our example is three-sided, which allows one to easily insert a matchbox. It measures 2 5/16″ x 3/4″ x 1.” Each of the three sides sports a different, stippled design. Its creator spent HOURS tapping out these designs with either a small hammer or a bayonet!