Decorated Shell Casings - Embossed
The first method of decoration is repousse work. The shell, once it has been annealed, is filled with lead, taken from shrapnel balls melted down. This provides sufficient density to flex under direct hammering, but not to allow a wider dent to be made.
The pair on the left, showing profiles of Joffre and Foch are particularly detailed. In the centre is the more common theme, with place names, Verdun, Ypres and the Somme being the most common, but I have examples from some very obscure small villages near the front line such as Pinot and Sancy and everything in between.
On the right are two shells produced by the Souvenir Shop in Paris, who had craftsmen working exclusively to supply their shop. Their shells were stamped on the base with the Souvenir Shop logo but are produced by at least three different artists, each of whom produced many identical shells. They also all used the same letter stamps – often marked for ‘Reims’ – suggesting this was a centralised workshop, sharing tools and ideas.