Prisoner of War Antiques

I was recently given a book on Prisoner of war antiques, what a fascinating subject!

Prisoners particularly the French and Americans but other nationalities as well used their time whilst in captivity in our British prisons to make exquisite items from bone, straw and wood which they were then allowed to sell in markets outside the prison walls. This in turn gave the prisoners a small amount of money to spend, so inner markets within the prison were opened for prisoners to spend their money usually on food, drink and gambling. Prisoners often worked in teams some carving bone, some painting, some making wooden box carcases, others splitting straw and decrating boxes etc. This not only helped past the days in captivity but also prevented many prisoners from getting unruly. These markets surrounding the prisons were a thriving business and worked both ways as country folk bought their goods to be sold to the prisoners, having a captive market, as well as people flocking to these prison markets to buy the beautiful goods produced by the prioners.

Prisoners of War also undertook commissions and restoration work.

Today many of these fascinating items have survived beautifully covered boxes with split straw decorations to finely carved ships from bone and woode snuff shoes or games boxes often inlaid with bone hearts. Below are examples of two Prisoner of War snuff Boxes both with bone heart and diamond. Click on links below for current stock items.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
We first became involved in Antique Treen and furniture some twenty five years ago and since then a passion for Treen, small wooden snuff boxes and decorative wooden items has developed into Opus Antiques.

This web site shows only a  small selection of our current stock for sale, if you are looking for something you don't see, please contact us.


We are also interested in buying Antique Treen items. As well as using our Contact page, you can also email or telephone us on 07941 285532


The word Treen is derived from the word tree and is a term used to describe wooden household objects, all turned from one piece of wood e.g. a bowl, plate, gingerbread mould, and spoons, always having a function.

Nowadays when we talk about Antique Treen it tends to cover all small wooden items including antique snuff boxes, candle stands, spice towers, etc. often made from several pieces of turned wood.


When a piece of wood has been painstakingly turned or carved, handled, polished and loved over a few hundred years old, it can develop a wonderful colour and patina and becomes an irresistible piece of Antique Treen.

  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram

We Accept

Address: Bath, Somerset       Contact Telephone: 07941 285532       Email: