- Julian Walker
- I lead workshops at the British Library, on literature, language, art, history, and the culture of the book. Author of Discovering Words, Discovering Words in the Kitchen, Evolving English Explored, Team Talk - sporting words & their origins, Trench Talk - the Language of the First World War (with Peter Doyle); How to Cure the Plague; The Finishing Touch. As an artist I work in performance, public engagement, and intervention using drawing, curating, text, changing things and embroidery.
Saturday, 29 September 2012
Trench Art but not Trench Art
I recently acquired from my (very) friendly local antiques dealer this curious object, which looked immediately like a piece of First World War trench art. All the parts were there – the brass cylinder shape of the shell, the rim round the base, with what appeared to be notches milled by hand, and most of all the lid made from a penny with the head of King George V, which opened to reveal the date 1915. But why was the penny so worn? Why did the decorative crest not have any apparent military reference? And what would the patent numbers on the base reveal?
USA patent 2146896 can be found easily on http://www.google.com/patents?id=RH5DAAAAEBAJ&pg=PA1&source=gbs_selected_pages&cad=1#v=onepage&q&f=false The patent for the Gas Burner Igniter was issued to J H G Horstmann on 14 February 1939, for a hand-held tool to light a gas fire or cooker, with a brass casing at the base to hold a battery which gives a charge to ignite gas fed in through a nozzle. John Hermann Gustav Horstmann was one of the family of Horstmanns whose engineering company based in Bath developed from a clock-making business in the mid-nineteenth century into a major engineering concern producing cars, gas-flow controllers and central heating systems.