Friday, March 2, 2012

Ramshackle Archeological Find

As Eric shoveled dirt for a home project, he unearthed a few curiosities, a small medicine bottle, abandoned modern irrigation, and the "Mon Reve" artifact above. As a university student, the local paper ran a weekly question and answer of people on the street. One of my favorite questions was: what was your best find (now entire television networks seem to be based on this simple question). I remember an antiques dealer unearthed a painting of value that he acquired for a small amount and sold for over $100,000, financing a remodel and addition to his shop. So every time I delve into some nasty project like cleaning the garage, I fortify myself with the motivating delusion that I may find the Hope diamond in the rafters.

Eric's "Mon Reve" find is a World War I trench art relic.

Eric unearthed this information via Google books:
A typically French design was the disc-shaped lighter (briquet) which has what appears to be commercially made circular plaques welded onto each side. These plaques portray a profile of a large-nosed soldier's head, wearing a soft cap--in fact a caricature of the German General Crown Prince Wilhelm. Sometimes, as with the one shown here (Figure 6.9), small inscriptions were added--in this case one side says 'Mon Reve' (My Dream), with 'Paris' lightly scratched onto the soldier's collar, while the other side is inscribed with 'L'eau De La Marne Est Amere' (The Water of the Marne is Bitter) and this time 'Verdun' appears on the collar. On the Paris side the Crown Prince's mouth is upturned in a smile, while on the Verdun side, the mouth is downturned and tears fall from the eye (see also Warin 2001: 165). Such lighters seem to embody not just the frusted attempts of the German High Command to capture Verdun and leave the way open to Paris, but also the terrible sufferings of the French infantrymen at Verdun.
From Nicholas J. Saunder's Trench Art: Materialities and Memories of War.

I wonder how this lighter ended up in Camp Ramshackle. I don't think it will finance any major remodels, but maybe if Eric keeps digging, that Hope diamond will surface.


  1. Great post! I'm sure that darn Hope diamond is lurking around Camp Ramshackle SOMEWHERE...


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