More encounters with interesting objects

Today, I travelled to Pontesbury to visit four different people who own World War I objects (all of which who had been interviewed for the History Makers project). Today, I have seen a huge variety of things from victory medals to hand-written artefacts (including an autograph book from a convalescence home) and from flare guns (made of solid brass) to ornamental shell cases. I have been touched by the objects.

A cartoon drawn by a convalescing soilder

A cartoon drawn by a convalescing soldier

The second person I visited had a really impressive collection of objects which he’d amassed himself via purchases over the Internet. His collection was fascinating and I enjoyed the chance to touch and handle these objects, the sorts of things only normally found in a museum and behind glass. The objects he has include: a periscope, a telescope, a leather wallet for keeping horse shoes in, an air dart, a bullet pencil, a flare gun, a metal post for tangling barbed wire, a huge German shell case, a German belt buckle and a number of bayonets.

The chalk from the Somme is still on this barbed wire entanglement post

The chalk from the earth of the Somme is still on this barbed wire entanglement post

When I left his house, I was very conscious of how my hands smelt: very acrid, of metal and leather. The smell was very strong. By handling these objects I had picked up the smells of the First World War and a century since. How could those objects still have such a strong smell after so much time? Where has that smell gone now? I guess it dissipated into the air after I left his house.

The cutlery of an ordinary soldier

The cutlery of an ordinary soldier

A periscope

A periscope

Shell cases turned into ornamental vases

Shell cases turned into ornamental vases

These objects hadn’t been handed down, the owner had acquired them more recently. So I wonder who owned them originally? Why were they sold / given away? Nobody will ever now know who first owned them. The stories of these objects are now lost.

One of the other people I visited today showed me, in addition to a lump of rock from the bottom of the Hawthorn crater, his Tower of London poppy, which I couldn’t resist photographing. It is a thing of beauty, and peace.

The symbol of the First World War

The symbol of the First World War

 

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