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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Trench art item


Aurel Sercu

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the US later introduced the 5.56. It was based on a modified deer hunting round

As I posted earlier my point was how the rifling can be designed to alter the behaviour of a bullet by the nature of the spin imparted. The 5.56 can be made to behave in different ways according to the weapon which fires it, obviously.

The 5.56 is more akin to - and is also used as - a varmint rather than a deer rifle round.

The early 5.56 rifles used in Vietnam had (IIRC) a 1 turn in 13" rifling twist. This stabilised them only marginally, so that impact against brushwood and even grass stems would topple them off axis and they'd whizz off somewhere into the wild blue yonder.

If a bullet tumbles in flight, its accuracy is immediately and completely annihilated - shooting .22 target rifle bullets from a smoothbore 'garden gun' for example, it's difficult to guarantee a hit on a cornflake packet at 20 feet. Most of those that do hit go through sideways.

At ranges of 100 yards or more, stopping power becomes secondary to the issue of making sure you can actually get your bullet to the enemy, and that might require penetration of some solid cover, as well as intervening brushwood and fronds.

For that reason, since those days in the mid '60s, rifling twists have steepened to 1 in 9 to increase the stability of the bullet, whose weight has also risen from 55 to 62 grains to improve sectional density and 'cover punch'. There are bullets up to 70 grains and maybe even more in use, I think.

Sorry if I've gatecrashed someone's debate. :rolleyes:

Regards,

MikB

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Hi Aurel

Going back to your original thread and as a great collector of 'Trench Art', may I offer a reply to your question.

Firstly may I say that you cannot define 'Trench Art' to one category or can you say what it means or its purpose unless its absolutely clear what its function is.

Every bit of 'Trench Art' is totally unique to the creator, unless of course it was mass produced after the war.

During the war it became a civilian thing to sell to both the allied and German armies as a way of making a living with so much of the raw materials to hand. The soldiers used to 'love' buying these homemade souvenirs to say they 'had been there'. This is not one of them.

After the war things obviously things were different, and the civilian population took to selling these to the mass populous who flocked to the former battlefields. This item would have been done by a 'cottage industry', a local company who made these items to demand. They had all the raw materials to hand and after the depression of the war, what a better way to earn some money. The item itself cannot be done by an individual, so therefore is not really 'Trench Art'. The rounds, or bullets, are done post war, the holes are too precise and were done by machine or hand held drill, the rounds represent 3 nations (thought of) and the disc is mass produced. A good selling item.

I have very similar items, but with the disc from other towns, like Ypres. Oostend, Arras etc...

Basically this is a decorative item, a so served no purpose rather than a souvenir to the people who wished to have a connection to that area, through maybe a loved and lost one, who died in that area.

Marc.

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Hi

Sorry forgot to add, the rounds don't signify anything, some might say its a cross( which it is in its own right), but it was the only way they could get the 3 rounds together and look presentable......

Marc.

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1. Firstly may I say that you cannot define 'Trench Art' to one category or can you say what it means or its purpose unless its absolutely clear what its function is. Every bit of 'Trench Art' is totally unique to the creator, unless of course it was mass produced after the war.

2. During the war it became a civilian thing to sell to both the allied and German armies as a way of making a living with so much of the raw materials to hand. The soldiers used to 'love' buying these homemade souvenirs to say they 'had been there'. This is not one of them.

3. After the war things obviously things were different, and the civilian population took to selling these to the mass populous who flocked to the former battlefields. This item would have been done by a 'cottage industry', a local company who made these items to demand. They had all the raw materials to hand and after the depression of the war, what a better way to earn some money.

4. The item itself cannot be done by an individual, so therefore is not really 'Trench Art'. The rounds, or bullets, are done post war, the holes are too precise and were done by machine or hand held drill, the rounds represent 3 nations (thought of) and the disc is mass produced. A good selling item.

5. I have very similar items, but with the disc from other towns, like Ypres. Oostend, Arras etc...

6. Basically this is a decorative item, a so served no purpose rather than a souvenir to the people who wished to have a connection to that area, through maybe a loved and lost one, who died in that area.

Marc.

Thanks, Marc,

Just a few words in reply. Do not think I am being overcritical. Just curious.

1. Yes, I am aware of that. And I always use the word Trench Art in a very broad sense.

2. You say : "This is not one of them" (= Not made by soldiers during the war.) I assume the arguments are, as you say in #4, that the holes in the rounds are too precise, and machine or hand drilled, the disc mass produced, and as in #5 because there are similar items with the disc of other towns ? (I just want to be sure I understand correctly.)

4. It's not that I tend to insist that this is Trench Art ! Not at all. I just found it was a suitable name to use, and I needed a Topic name to attract Forum members. Like you for instance ! (Don't understand why I can't add a smiley here ! It just doesn't work ! )

But are you sure an individual soldier could not have made this ? It looks rather ... simple and primitive to me.

5. That's a convincing argument indeed. As there are so many, it does not look like it is a very individual item.

6. I'm willing to believe that. Yet, something that is only decorative and has no function at all... Only to be laid in a drawer ? A letter opener can be used to open letters at least. In my pragmatic view all items should have a function, a purpose, if only to admire them. So being decorative in a way is a purpose too. But I tend to want "more". Even if only to scratch your ear :lol: (The smiley works !)

And I was a bit puzzled because the item cannot be suspended, cannot stand ...

Aurel

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Hi Aurel

I love these conversations with yourself, I do miss them!! ;)

Anyway to answer your questions:

1. I know what you are saying in the word 'Trench Art' as its meaning is used very liberal in the use of decorative munition items. I think this also partly answers your question no.4.

2. You are quite correct in the understanding of this question.

4. What happened to 3??!! :D . Its highly unlikely an individual soldier made this, as I've come across many a similar item and all the holes are exactly the same diameter, you can see the marks of a drill and I think the ordinary soldier would not have these tools to hand to make such an item or precision holes. Then why would he scramble around to put together 3 different rounds? They are very primitive as they hastily put them together, say in the back shed, and sometimes young children and grandmothers were involved in the making. This is going on 15 years of experience. However, as with a lot of things, I could be wrong, but in this case I very much doubt it.

5. I think you answered the above question yourself.

6. On closer inspection of the picture it could be a letter opener, with the rivet in place and what looks like a split in the round. Until this is confirmed we have to assume otherwise. Even letter openers never really served a purpose on modern society (unless your sevants did it) and still remained a souvenir to the rich, it was something you must have as 'your nephew Will died there' type thing. Even if the man on the street bought one of these letter openers, I doubt he would of used it for its purpose, as it was more of a memory thing.

A lot of small 'Trench Art' such as this(if it is not half of a letter opener) was merely to be bought to be placed in somewhere safe of a loved one, ie a purse or a shrine or in a special drawer, basically somewhere someone could privately worship thier dearly departed, without to much intrusion on anyone else.

I have many very similar items that served no purpose other than a reminder of a lost one.The people who sold these items produced an object that was actually involved in, or around a town in which they served or were associated with. Basically if a family lost 'Joe Bloggs' in Ypres, a family would go out and buy anything associated with that town, especially if they were wealthy and this is where the main custom came from.

Its like saying, 'what use does a trench art crucifix do?' Same thing, no purpose, but comfort to those who seek it!!!

Marc.

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Ok Aurel

Looking at some of my records, I would say it has come from a letter opener. Same thing applies (as in earlier conversation about where items come from) and if the blade came away, people still kept them for their sentimental value.

At the end of the day, each item was down to someone who put it together, whether mass produced or individual, and until you ask that person what its purpose was, it will remain as 'what does it do?' type thing!!

This was definately 'mass' produced.

Marc.

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Thanks, Marc, very clarifying !

And let me thank you with two more questions.

1. Should you ever find a similar item (or a photo) showing that part is missing from 'mine' (making it something like a letter opener or anything else), could you let me know, by posting or by sending an e-mail ?

2. And below is a real letter opener, one I still use (almost) every day. (Actually between 2001 (when I acquired it) and now. No idea of course if it was used as a letter opener between 1917 and 2001 !)

a. It shows the years 1914 - 1915 - 1916 - 1917. So I can be sure is was made in 1917 ? (Someone making it in 1918 or post war and not inscribing 1918 wouldn't make much sense, would it ? On the other hand, on 31 July 1917 the front lines moved back eastward from Boezinge ... But then came closer again in April 1918...)

b. Let's say it was made in 1917. That was a time that there were no civilians in the area (evacuated since April 1915). So it must have been made by a soldier ? Correct ?

c. I'm not going to ask if we can be sure if it was made in Boezinge indeed. No way to guarantee that, I know. It may have been made in Ypres, or Noordschote or Merkem or ... (Maybe the man (soldier) who made this, made a whole series, of all front line villages, who knows ...)

d. The above (a and b ) imply that this item was not mass produced ? (I would not consider 5 or 6 or even a dozen 'mass' produced.)

Aurel

post-8-1109772937.jpg

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