Prisoner of War Antiques

What a fascinating subject!

Prisoners of War particularly the French and Americans but other nationalities as well used their time whilst in captivity in the British prisons to make exquisite items from bone, straw and wood. They were then allowed to sell these items 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 decorating 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 prisoners.

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 wooden snuff shoes or games boxes often inlaid with bone hearts

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