The War

French traditional jewellery - The war years

 

It was especially during the First World War that one observed the creation of jewels with a particular war theme.  One can perhaps separate them into two categories: jewels made by the soldiers, the so-called bijoux des tranchées or bijoux des poilus and the jewels made by jewellers for a public eager to show their support and affection for the members of their family serving on the front.

Wars are always financed in the long run by the population and World War One was no exception.  Europe was still using the gold standard in 1914 and every banknote was backed by gold.  The French government was therefore unable to simply print banknotes, thus the first step was to extract as much gold as possible from the population before breaking the convertibility of the banknotes.  Vast campaigns encouraging the population to exchange their gold coins for war bonds were run and delightful posters showing gold coins crushing German soldiers or peasants trustingly handing in their gold were pasted across the country.  Once the majority of the gold coins in circulation had been handed in, the government suspended the convertibility of banknotes into gold and inflation began.  Those who had exchanged their gold for paper were thus much less wealthy after the war than those who had held onto their Napoleons, but that was the price of patriotism.  The government used the gold to pay for imports of necessary matériel, as no country was going to accept credit from France between 1914 and 1918.

 


Patriotic poster 1914-1918
 
Patriotic poster 1914-1918


The troops in the trenches often had long periods of inactivity, and some whiled away their time by making jewellery, cigarette lighters and other trinkets with pieces of copper, brass or aluminium coming from shells or damaged materiél.  These objects were sent to the family and to some jewellers who sold them on to raise a little pocket money for the soldiers.  Occasionally one finds among the personal belongings of French soldiers trench rings made by the Germans, which proves that both armies had the same pastime!

In the cities the newspapers were filled with encouraging news to boost morale, and often the superiority of the 75mm French canon was vaunted, with the claim that the Germans were awed by its power and accuracy.  A market was thus created for brooches and pendants with a motif of 75mm canons.  Small brooches with an eagle clutching a pearl in its beak or claws, designed by the aviator and painter Henri Farré (1871 - 1934), were popular, as were brooches with a glass facade behind which one could slip a photo of a soldier at the front.

 

 

 


Silver medal given to pigeon fanciers who lent their
pigeons to the government during the siege of Paris 1870 - 1871

click on the photos to enlarge them in high resolution

 


Ring worn by members of the League of Patriots commemorating the (lost) war of 1871 against the Prussians.  Silver-plated brass

 

 


 aviator brooch, gold, 1914 - 1918
 
 aviator brooch, gold, 1914 - 1918
 

 aviator brooch, gold, 1914 - 1918

 Aviator brooch, gold, 1914 - 1918

 

 


Patriotic medal from 1914-1918 - the French rooster looking towards the constellation of Leo (the English lion)
with the words "Ni vous sans moi - Ni moi sans vous" from the story of Tristan and Isolde

 

 

 

 


War orphan's medal, World War One, (charming depiction of a buried soldier, "Look, there's Daddy!")

 

 


            Patriotic watch 1914 - 1918, cupro-nickel

 French rooster crowing on a German helmet

click on the photos to enlarge them in high resolution

 


Patriotic watch, 1915, copper-nickel - the French rooster trampling the German eagle

 

 


Patriotic watch, 1914, copper-nickel

 

 


Medal offered by an employer to his employee

 

 


Dog-tag, steel and aluminium 

Rosary beads owned by WWI soldier

 

 

Trench rings


 trench ring, aluminium and copper, 1914 - 1918

trench ring, aluminium and copper, 1914 - 1918

  trench ring, aluminium and copper, 1914 - 1918

Trench rings in aluminium and copper, 1914 - 1918

 

 



trench ring, aluminium, 1914 - 1918



trench ring, aluminium, 1914 - 1918

trench ring, aluminium, 1914 - 1918

Trench rings in aluminium, 1914 - 1918

click on the photos to enlarge them in high resolution

 

 


Trench ring, copper & aluminium, 1914 - 1918


German trench ring, aluminium, 1914 - 1918


Trench ring, aluminium, 1914 - 1918

 


 


Manufacture of trench rings by pouring molten aluminium into a tube stuck into a potato

 

 

The activites of the soldiers on the front - postcard from WWI - click to enlarge

 

 

 


trench ring, aluminium, 1914 - 1918
 
trench ring, aluminium, 1914 - 1918
 


trench ring, aluminium, 1914 - 1918

Trench rings in aluminium, 1914 - 1918

 

 

 

 


Ring with WWI soldier,
silver-plated brass, 1914 - 1915
 


Ring worn by the 4th artillery
regiment of Metz, silvered brass

 


Ring with Field Marshal Joffre,
silver-plated brass, 1914 - 1918

 

 


Trench jewellery - photo locket in aluminium and glass, 1914 - 1918

 

 

 


 75mm artillery crew in front of their cannon

 


 


75mm cannon pendant, 1914 - 1915, gold
 
75mm cannon pendant, 1914 - 1915, gold
 
75mm cannon pendant, 1914 - 1918, gold

 

 


75mm cannon brooch, 1914 - 1918, gold

 

 



75mm cannon pendant, 1914 - 1918, gold

 
75mm cannon pendant, 1914 - 1918, gold
 


75mm cannon pendant, 1914 - 1918, gold

75mm cannon pendant, 1914 - 1918, gold

 

 

 

 


Pendentif de canon de 75mm, 1914 - 1918, or

   
Pendentif de canon de 75mm,
1914 - 1918, or

75mm cannon pendant, 1914 - 1918, gold, gold and silver

 

 


Silver photo locket with soldier and French Alsatian woman
obverse view

Silver photo locket with motif of 75mm cannon, 1914-1915
reverse view

 

 

         
Gold souvenir medal of the armistice engraved PAX 11 novembre 1918 (150%)

 


 Gold patriotic medal showing the French rooster on a tank crushing the German eagle....... (enlarged 150%)

 

 


Advertisement from 1915 in the l'Illustration magazine for jewellery made from shrapnel by the front line troops.
 

 

 


     
Photo brooch, 1914 - 1918

 


1914 - 1915 croix de Lorraine ring, in gold and enamel

 

 


Silver Joan of Arc medal, popular during the wars

 

 

 

Contact me with your suggestions, corrections, photos, questions and comments!

 

 

Contents

trench rings, trench jewellery, trench jewelry, trench artwork, world war one trench rings, war medals, 75mm cannon jewellery, aviator brooch, patriotic jewellery, bijoux des tranchées, artisanat des tranchées, bague des poilus, bijoux des poilus, médaille de guerre, bijoux des canons 75mm, canon 75, bijoux patriotiques, broche aviateur, bijoux des régions de France, les bijoux traditionnels français, French regional jewellery,les bijoux de France, Lanté et Gatine, Estella Canziani, French traditional jewellery - antieke zeeuwse streeksieraden in zeeland friesland- Streeksieraden in Zeeland

 

 

French traditional jewellery - The war years