A Wonderful Masonic Trench Art Lamp



Decorated shell casings are a main focus of interest among many collectors of trench art. Casings from artillery shells of several different calibers casings for the standard artillery field pieces: the French and American 75mm, German 77mm, or British 18 pounder guns and the larger 105mm, 155mm and 210mm artillery pieces] and several sizes of naval shells [1pdr, 3pdr, 6pdr] were the most common ones used for making this kind of trench art.

Many of the 75m and 77mm shells were sent or brought home for use as flower vases. The decorative work on these pieces varies widely from crudely ‘punched’ designs made by amateur soldier-artists to elaborately embossed and engraved pieces made by skilled soldier or civilian artisans. Popular themes included floral designs, animals, patriotic figures, unit identifications, battles and various military images such as airplanes, tanks, and artillery pieces. Other shells bear personal inscriptions to loved ones.  Some give detailed accounts of a soldier’s service while others bear logos honoring memberships that they held in fraternal organizations.

Most of these items were made in Britain (though possibly elsewhere also) towards the end of the war, but mainly after 1918. They were composed of the raw materials of war brought back as souvenirs and mementoes by returning soldiers. Manufacture was undertaken commercially by various British firms, often marketing their services through various army navy stores and catalogs. They produced advertisements offering to personalize soldiers' souvenirs and memorabilia of war by creating distinctive designs and mounting them on an ebonized base.  What is a especially unusual in this case is that the base seems to be fabricated especially for the piece from sheet brass and part of the artwork, not one of the more common , usually round, generic wooden bases.

A special "Thanks" to Brother Harris J. Goldstein of Ocean Lodge #89. Wall, NJ for sharing the pictures of his wonderful trench art lamp with our museum.




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