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  • Civil War Encyclopedia
  • Soldiers carving

Soldier-carved "Ball-in-Cage", POW


Product Description

This is an interesting piece I am offering that was once part of a larger Civil War collection. It is sometimes called a “ball-in-cage”. It is made of wood and measures 11” long and was carved from a single piece of wood. It was probably whittled by a soldier or even a POW to pass the time.

Whittling did not become a prevalent hobby in the United States until the Civil War began, when soldiers with skilled hands and idle hours whittled to pass the time. It became a popular diversion that enlisted men, commanding officers, and even General Ulysses S. Grant partook. Most soldiers carried folding pocketknives and in turn became proficient whittlers. They turned wood into walking sticks, figurines, sculptures, smoking pipes, fans, whistles, and ball in cages. After the war many of the veterans continued their leisure pursuit.

This unique piece remains solid and the ball still floats back and forth. In the “Civil War Collectors Encyclopedia”, by Francis Lord, there is a similar piece which belonged to a Civil War officer (see pictures). Also, I go into more detail about this practice in my recent book “The Civil War Soldier – His Personal Items”.

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$6.50 (Fixed shipping cost)