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Ditty Box #6 - Vintage 1905-1918 WWI German Navy Standard Issue Regulation Ditty Box or "Eigentum Effecten Kasten or just Eigentum Kasten" (Personal Effects Box or Personal Box) Used Generally Throughout the Naval Services and Exclusively by the U-Boat Unterseeboot Fleet Due to the Lightweight and Small Size, Sometimes Called Naval Sea Chests or Sea Trunks.

Ditty Boxes were used by enlisted sailors and crew to store their most treasured personal possessions while at sea, as well as personal items needed on an everyday basis. Examples of these would be letters from family members, favorite photographs, other treasures found at various ports-of-call. Everyday needed items would be Forks, Spoons, Knives before the centralized mess, tobacco, smoking pipes, cups, razors, soap and tolietries, sewing kits.

It is for the above reasons why we here at The Pirate's Lair honor, respect and treasure these ditty boxes as part of our collection since we understand that they and their contents were the most valuable things a sailor possessed while at sea traveling the world over and knowingly going into harms way! We also think that many of our clients may feel the same way and as such are making some available for purchase.

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german navy kaiserliche marine reichsmarine standard issue regulation ditty box german navy kaiserliche marine reichsmarine standard issue regulation ditty box

Above is a semi-handcrafted German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine 1905-1918) standard issue regulation ditty box used by a German Navy sailor. The construction is of light pine boards with dovetailed joints. This type/style of ditty box was commonly used by the German Navy throughout the early 20th century leading up to WWI and for a decade thereafter. And especially popular with Germany's U-Boat Fleet due to its lightweight and small size and was part of a seamans standard regulation issue. Note that this ditty box did not have handles. This ditty box used brass for its hardware indicating early 1900s-1918 manufacture.

Note that the front metal nameplate has been removed. This was a common enough practice after WWII when the names of many German servicemembers were removed from personal items they wore or used while in the military whether it was WWI or WWII.

german navy kaiserliche marine reichsmarine standard issue regulation ditty box german navy kaiserliche marine reichsmarine standard issue regulation ditty box

Above shows German Navy sailors of the Kaiserliche Marine (1917) standing ready for inspection - note the unique German ditty boxes sitting to the left of each pair of sea boots! Now how kewl is this to show provenance!

Ditty Box #6 - German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine/Reichsmarine) 1905-1918 WWI eraDue to the brass hardware this particular ditty box was certainly made shortly before or during WWI. Partially Handcrafted made of pine wood and dovetail construction, sliding lid, the affixed metal nameplate has been removed on this box which was a common practice after WWII. Popular in the cramped quarters of the U-Boat Forces for its small size. This is a typical standardized German Navy-issued regulation ditty box, also sometimes termed as a sea chest or sea trunk, used by German sailors in the Kaiserliche Marine and Reichsmarine pre and post WWI. What was unique in the design of these German Navy-issued ditty boxes was the sliding lid which had an affixed tin tab which protruded through a slit in the body of the box where a lock would be put. External personalization was against naval regulations, however we have found many examples where German sailors wrote their names and other personal information instead of using the metal nameplate.
Antique WWI German German Navy Sailors Kaiserliche Marine and Reichsmarine regulation Ditty Box, Sea Chest or Sea Trunk
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ca 1870s USS Mohican sailor John King sitting on his ditty box with Old Salts spinning tales and yarns

Period photograph aboard the USS Mohican ca 1880s, sailor John King sitting far right on his ditty box with other Old Salts spinning tales and yarns! Also note the sailor to the far left also sitting on a ditty box, the rope becket can be seen hanging down from the wooden handle. Sometimes these ditty boxes are also known as Sea Chests or Sea Trunks.

photograph of sailors aboard ship playing dice games while sitting on their ditty boxes ca 1890s Spanish American War to early 1900s Great White Fleet

Above is a period photograph of US Navy American sailors aboard ship playing dice and card games passing the time away while sitting on their ditty boxes: ca 1890s Spanish American War to pre-WWI early 1900s Great White Fleet era. Sometimes these ditty boxes were also known as Sea Chests or Sea Trunks.

photograph of unknown old salt sailors standing aboard the USS Ohio ca 1870s note the ditty box (sea trunk/sea chest) on the deck in front of the sailor to the left.

photograph of old salt sailors standing aboard ship on the bow of the USS Ohio ca 1870s note the ditty box (sea trunk/sea chest) on the deck in front of the sailor to the left. There is also an enlisted spitoon sittin on the deck in the lower left of the photo.

HISTORICAL NOTE: Ditty Boxes have been carried by sailors the world over from when ships first sailed. These small wooden boxes were where a sailor kept personal articles such as sewing kits, small carving knives, razors and toiletries, items picked up in foreign ports, and later photographs.

Due to shipboard space constraints all ditty boxes were relatively small so that they could be easily stored typically where a sailor slept. Some ditty boxes were handmade with fantastic nautical carvings while others later in history were standard issue equipment for uniformity and given to each enlisted sailor for his own use where it was expected he would keep required personal items and needed toiletries.

The simple construction of a ditty box was typically of pine wood with dovetailed joints, hinged lid with lock and key, while in the case of the early German Navy the lid consisted of a sliding piece of wood which fitted into grooves. Some ditty boxes had handles made for rope beckets while many didnt have handles at all. Some had specific plates where the sailors name was to be engraved, while others did not - especially early handmade ditty boxes.

We will be illustrating on this web page specific ditty boxes found in our collection as well as period photographs showing sailors with their ditty boxes!

The Pirate's Lair has been collecting Ditty Boxes for several years as each one is unique and personal to the sailor who owned it and as such are important pieces of naval history used during time of war. However we are pleased to offer some of the ditty boxes we have found for the pleasure and use of people who appreciate and enjoy the unusual, hard-to-find nautical and naval antiques.

Below are links to other Antique Nautical and Naval Artifacts which you may be interested in.

OPTIONAL - Trunk Wood Engraving Examples and Prices
Custom Designed, Handcrafted, and Hand Lettered in Caligraphy on your Antique Chest
Personalized Burnt Wood Engravings
Click Here To Review Sample Engravings
Personalize Your 100+ Year Old Antique Trunk in Perpetuity!
Antique Trunks as a Shadow Box and Storage Chest!
Customer Photographic Examples of our Antique Trunks Being used as a Military or Naval Retirement Shadow Box and Storage Chest!!
Military or Naval Retirement Ceremony Shadow Box
Click Here for Sample Shadow Box Photographs From Customers
Why just get a shadow box or a newly made trunk with no history! One of our 100+ Year Old Nautical Antique Trunks can be used for both a Shadow Box and Storage Chest for your Uniforms, Photograph Albums, and Memorabilia!

The Pirate's Lair
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78 Canterbury Drive
Stafford, Virginia 22554
Phone: 540-659-6209

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Music Credits: Donald Where's Your Trousers/Drunken Sailor medley by The Bards