Lighter of the Great War / Trench Lighter / Briquet Poilu
Through this blog I aim to show a selection of lighters produced during and in the years following the Great War. Including trench art and industrial made lighters of the period. All the lighters featured are from my own collection.
Featured is a nice WW1 era trench art medallion type pocket lighter featuring a Chinese Dragon.
The difference between the Chinese and Japanese Dragon is usually the toes, the Japanese Dragon usually has 3 toes and the Chinese 4.
Almost certainly manufactured to celebrate China's contribution to the war efforts.
In 1914 China had declared itself as a neutral in the War, however China had secretly offered 50,000 troops to retake Qingdao.
Japan had opposed the use of Chinese military forces during the Great War, however the allies were suffering huge losses, especially on the Western Front.
It was agreed that China could offer men for none combatant purposes, such as the digging of trenches and other labouring jobs, thereby releasing soldiers to the front line.
Members of the Chinese Labor Corp started to arrive on the Western Front late in 1916.
The contribution of the Chinese Labor Corp to the overall war effort proved invaluable. Members of the Labor Corp were even involved in early trials of the Tank, the allies believing their lack of understanding of the English language would help in keeping its development secret.
This lighter has an early tax stamp, the type used between 1911 and 1916, although it does look different to the type I am familiar with, much more basic or crude, I wonder if this is a counterfeit or fake stamp, to fool the tax man? it is just a thought.
Featured is a huge WW1 trench art book / Livre lighter.
Modelled as a Prayer Book or perhaps a Bible?
Made of brass with copper detail, the lighter is marked 1918 & Lyon, it is beautifully engraved with religious imagery and symbolism and I am sure it offered the owner & his family great comfort during very difficult times.
I purchased this lighter from Ebay in France 3 or 4 years ago, I was of course very surprised when this lighter arrived as I was expecting a small pocket lighter!
Featured is an unusual and rarely seen WW1 trench art lighter modelled as a stove.
Beautifully finished in copper and brass, I bought this lighter in Paris in 2001, the seller believed it was made by a sailor to copy a ships boiler, although I believe it is almost certainly a stove.
Contemporary images do show soldiers in the front line and trenches using stoves salvaged from destroyed buildings, though they were more commonly encountered in barracks and hospitals as in the image below.
The maker of this unusual lighter must have craved the comfort and warmth the stove had offered him, I imagine the hot plate could have been used for brewing coffee or perhaps even for making trench art.