Miscellaneous, WW1, WW2

Trench Art for Sale

The term ‘trench art’ originally referred to pieces made during WW1 but it is somewhat of a misleading term. Some of these items were indeed created by soldiers in the trenches, but they were also made by convalescing soldiers in hospitals, local people who made and sold them as souvenirs, and even manufacturers back home. They used original war-related items like fuse heads and shells, and made them into souvenirs for the soldiers, as these items were way too heavy and bulky to bring home from the front.

A great variety of trench art items were made, and this was not exclusive to WW1. War souvenirs and trophies date back to ancient times, but there are many WW2 and more modern examples as well. Items range from more basic shell case art pieces through paperweights and letter openers, all the way to more detailed and artistic objects; for example rings and other jewellery. Many soldiers sent these home to their spouses and loved ones, while others sold them to get some extra money.

You can often pick items up from militaria fairs and shows. But today we will explore some trench art for sale from across our partner sites who post them all over the world.

WW1 Ashtray Trench Art

Some of the objects made from war items are utilitarian as well as decorative. Like this ashtray for example, which has a mixture of different elements; the base is a 77mm shell case, the stem is a smaller cartridge, and the decoration on the matchbox holder on top is an Austrian button.

The case is dated 1916 and has ‘Düsseldorf’ on it as well as the letters ‘R.h.M.F’ which is the abbreviation that stands for Rheinische Munitionsfabrik Düsseldorf, meaning ‘Düsseldorf Ammunition Factory of the Rhineland’. So, what this means is that this particular shell was manufactured in the aforementioned factory in 1916.

This ashtray is available from World Military Collectables for £36.

WW1 Trench Art Ashtray for sale
Some trench art items were quite utilitarian.
WW1 Trench Art Ashtray for sale
The date on the shell case is 1916.

World Military Collectables.

WW1 Trench Art Sweetheart Bracelet

This trench art piece is so unique! It’s a lovely, ornate bracelet made using a driver band taken from an artillery shell. It is a very clever, creative way to reuse war material. With it being so ornate, it was possibly made by a soldier for her wife/girlfriend back home. Items as such are often referred to as ‘sweetheart’ items, of which badges and brooches were the most popular. The bracelet features oak leaf motifs, as well as a German Iron Cross miniature.

The Iron Cross dates all the way back to Prussian Germany. It was first awarded during the Napoleonic Wars, but was famously used during WW2 with an added swastika, and even today, a version of the Iron Cross is the symbol of the Bundeswehr (German Army).

This exquisite and unique trench art bracelet is for sale at Sabre Militaria for AU$225.

WW1 German Trench Art bracelet for sale
The craftsmanship of this bracelet is excellent.
WW1 German Trench Art bracelet for sale
The bracelet was made using a driver band.
WW1 German Trench Art bracelet for sale
It has a functioning clasp.

Sabre Militaria logo

WW2 Fluted Canadian Trench Art

This next piece is quite a typical piece of trench art, which was often used as an ornate vase. It has a fluted stem and the top edge has also been bent outwards in a decorative manner. The shell is a WW2 one, dated 1944. With it being such an important year in WW2 history, shells and other items with a 1944 date are quite desirable.

One side depicts a flower – possibly a tulip – while the other side has a maple leaf on it. The maple leaf is typically a symbol of Canada, so it’s quite possible that a Canadian soldier made it. Perhaps while he was recovering in an army hospital in Normandy, you just never know! Which is what’s so fascinating and exciting about military collectibles. They are all unique pieces of history.

This lovely fluted trench art is available from Rocksteady Antiques for €65.

ww2 fluted trench art for sale
This piece features a fluted base.
ww2 fluted trench art for sale
The date on the bottom is 1944.
ww2 fluted trench art for sale
The maple leaf motif suggests it could have been made by a Canadian soldier.

Rocksteady Militaria Logo

Pair of Trench Art Vases

Finding a lovely, shiny, unique piece of trench art is difficult, but a matching pair is even more so! This pair has three nice, ornate legs, which you don’t see often. The legs are attached to the base of the shells with screws so they are very secure. The base of the shells is dated 1918 on one of them, but the other date is not visible due to where one of the legs attaches. The shell cases themselves are 3 pounders, so fairy large! They’d be perfect to use as vases.

This great pair is available from The Militaria Shop for £125.

ww1 trench art pair for sale
This is a gorgeous pair of trench art pieces.
ww1 trench art pair for sale
The legs are attached with screws.

The Militaria Shop logo

Small Tray with Belt Buckle

Trench art comes in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. This tray is a lovely small trinket dish, with a Prussian belt buckle as its centrepiece. It would make a lovely addition to a collection, or even a gift for an Imperial German collector!

It is currently for sale at Relic Militaria for £35.

ww1 german trench art tray for sale
The centrepiece of this tray is a Prussian belt buckle.

Relic Militaria Logo

Trench Art Letter Opener

One of the other useful and popular items that were created by using war items, is a letter opener knife. These were often lovely and ornate. Back then postal communication was the way soldiers could keep in touch with their loved ones. Therefore letter openers would be used very frequently. They must have been a good and easy sale as well, if a soldier wanted to make some extra money, as the local people would have used letter openers as well.

This example was made by attaching a piece of medal at the end of a rifle round, which was quite a common thing to use. It is available from Military Tour in Canada for $49.

ww1 trench art bullet letter opener for sale
Letter-opening knives were a popular choice for trench art.
ww1 trench art bullet letter opener for sale
This piece uses a French bullet as a sturdy handle.

Military Tour logo

Do you have items to sell? Dealer or collector; it is completely free

We love to show items for sale from all around the world, so grab the chance to put your item in front of thousands of potential buyers worldwide.

For dealers with your own website: it could not be easier, so get in touch via [email protected] to express interest. We will select items from your website to include in our daily posts, and advertise them for free! No work on your part required at all. If you have a social media and/or eBay account, feel free to include these in your e-mail as well. We will tag your social media account whenever your item is included in one of our posts so you can gain even more exposure. Click here to see the list of our current partner sites.

Collectors / sellers with just one or two items to sell: Send us an email to [email protected] with 3-5 clear photos of the item, item description (be as descriptive as possible), location, price and shipping options, and we will shortlist it to be included in our upcoming articles. Again, totally free! Subject to approval, your item will be seen by tens of thousands of people per week.