"Trench Art" ashtray

I picked up this Trench art ashtray the other day at a yard sale. The rim diameter is 3.70" (94mm) and the base diameter is 3.33" (84mm). Does anyone know what it was, who made it and when?



I’ll forward to the Jap shell pro I know. He can decipher the bulk of the headstamps. Except for the “F”. Nobody’s figured that one out just yet.


Alright, to pick off your questions one at a time:

What it is:
The rim and body diameters indicate this to have been a Japanese army (= IJA) 75x294R Type 94 mountain gun case. In light of the fact that it was converted to trench art, I can say that fortunately this is one of the more common Japanese cases.

Who made it:
The primer as well as the case were made at the Osaka arsenal (indicated by the crossed cannons, as well as the leftmost Kanji character, that reads ‘saka’ that appears at the 7 o’clock position). I’m not certain what the ‘spoked wheel’ means, this is not always encountered on Japanese cases, so it may well be an inspector’s/acceptance mark.

When it was made:
There’s an odd thing with one of the Kanji characters, as it’s flawed, and isn’t a proper number. The date of the case reads as follows: ‘Showa era’ (= rightmost Kanji character at 4 o’clock), then directly to the left of it follows a compound number, where the ‘+’ = 10, and the lower one is a different Kanji for a number. It is this lower Kanji that is flawed. It looks like it might have been the Kanji for the number ‘4’ (Note: that Kanji can be seen properly on the primer!) or for the number ‘2’, with should look like a ‘=’. Either way, if it was a ‘4’, it would mean ‘Showa year 14’ (= 1939), and if it was a ‘2’ it would mean ‘Showa year 12’ (= 1937), so it should be from around that year. The ‘8’ to the left of it means that it was manufactured in ‘month 8’, i.e. August.
The primer reads similarly, and is from August of Showa year 14, i.e. August 1939.



How about a photo of the other end of the trench art? The headstamp may be interesting but it’s only a small part of the artifact.


Ray, here is the rest of it. I assume there was once a 6.5mm bullet in the empty case

Olafo, Thanks for all the information. I’m always amazed at all the knowledge that’s out there. Just one more question. What does the “F” stand for?

Thanks again


Olafo, Thanks for all the information. I’m always amazed at all the knowledge that’s out there. Just one more question. What does the “F” stand for?

Thanks again


Hi Paul,

You’re welcome!
As for the ‘F’, the judges are still out on that one, and at BOCN we’re trying to get it positively identified, but so far we’ve not come across documentation that gives a definitive answer.

The only thing that can be told (almost beyond doubt) about it, is that it never seems to appear on Navy ammo, and (almost?) always on this style Showa (= from 1926 - 1945) era Army headstamp. There are other types of Army headstamps that don’t seem to have it, and I also have a Meiji era case (from 1904), that has a headstamp style closely resembling this type of headstamp, but… without the ‘F’. I wonder if it does or doesn’t appear on Taisho era (1912 - 1925) cases. I myself don’t have any case from that era, but I’d love to see some pictures of some of them, if anyone has them.

Then, some of the guesses would be:
-‘F’ being an abbreviation of ‘Full charge’ (following British patterns, which is not unlikely, as much of the IJA ammo is based on British models).
-My own personal theory is that it might mean something like ‘army usage’ or so.

Either way, the above are just some guesses…