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Napoleonic war 1799 - 1815 prisoner of war work


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We are all aware of the term "Trench art", and how it covers a multitude of items ,

most people are aware of ww1 / ww2 items,

but it goes back a lot further ,

these 2 items come from the Napoleonic era,

and were made by French p o w s , at that time,

the second is a personal grooming tool,

like a Napoleonic " Swiss army knife",

with tooth pick and earwax remover etc.,

very intricately carver from bone,

legend has it that they were made from boiled lamb or beef bones,

that were then bleached white by exposure to the sun,

they also used pigs to find other bones ,

and apparently used to come across shallow graves of deceased prisoners,

and used what bones they found,

the first item is a straw work case,

made from differently stained straw?

rather like the patterns on " Tunbridge ware" with its micro mosaics,

they made all sorts of things from,

model warships to models of " Madame le guillotine,"

all from bone and pinned together,

they were sold to raise money to supplement their meagre rations ,

apparently the British pows held by the French,

preferred to play sport , rather than bone whittling ,

these are tangible links to generations gone by ,

and as the items were largely un signed ,

they remain nameless ,

but they stand as a fine example of what the caged male can do ,

they might not have been able to read or write,

most couldn't do one or either,

but they expressed them selves in the only way they knew how.

there were prison camps from Plymouth to Dartmoor and all over the country,

including prison hulks,

moored in various rivers throughout the nation,

its a humbling thing to hold in your hands

200 odd years after they were hand made ................................






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