Patrice Warin has been a long-time advisor to me on the subject of Trench Art book objects and I'd like to honor him in this post. Patrice is an historian of Trench Art and has written several books on the subject, including one on writing- and another on tobacco-related objects. Since there are many book-shaped tobacco-related lighters and boxes, I've always written to Patrice for his opinion and he has helped to educate me about their manufacture, authenticity and use.
The term ‘trench art’ describes the decorative and practical objects made by soldiers, civilians and prisoners of war, during wartime. Beyond their significance as military ephemera, the objects testify to the skill and determination of humans under the extreme pressure of war and their need to create objects that reflect their feelings of spirituality, grief, love and friendship. During World War I, book-shaped smoking paraphernalia was made in great variety. The 'bullet lighter', for example, was a common book object made from dicarded shell casings and driving bands. The lighters were easily made and their compact, flat format, fit nicely in pockets. Lighters were necessary, as matches could not be used in trenches because of humidity, and having a light could be a question of life and death. The images below are example of the Trench Art book objects that Patrice has sent me over the years.
This lighter is an example of a French 'bullet' lighter:
This is a match safe:
This looks to be a match box cover with a very nice Grolieresque binding design; but Patrice may correct me if I'm wrong:
This is a wooden box like a book made by a French soldier (FS monogram on back cover), to protect his letters or snapshots. The title is Guerre (War) 1914-1915-1916 and on the spine TOME 1 (volume 1):
Thank you Patrice for your generous advice! You can find Patrice Warin's books on Trench Art on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/objets-decriture-grande-guerre/dp/2846731497/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8