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Knockaloe Camp box of dominos

Date made: 1915-1918

Maker: Steiner, Otto

Description: A handmade rectangular wooden box with a slide-in lid and bas relief carving on the sides and the top of the lid. The side panels are carved with vine leaves and bunch of grapes and the lid has the same design with 'Dominos' carved in the centre of the lid. The box is a pinned and glued construction and appears to have been made of pine wood. The box contains 28 domino pieces, which have black (ebony?) wood backs and white (bone?) tops; they are fastened with brass pins through the centres.

The box and dominos were made in Knockaloe Camp by the donor's father, Otto Steiner.

During the First World War (1914-1918) the Isle of Man was used as an internment base for civilian ‘enemy aliens’. They were held in two camps, a requisitioned holiday camp in Douglas and a purpose built camp located at Knockaloe near Peel on the west coast of the Island. These held at their peaks over 4,000 and 23,000 men in some cases for nearly five years between opening in 1914 and final closure in 1919. Over 30,000 men passed through Knockaloe between 1914 and 1917, more than the population of Douglas. Other historic names referring to the camp include Knockaloe P.O.W. Camp, Knockaloe Prisoner of War Camp and Knockaloe Alien Detention Camp. The confinement of the prisoners led to specific behavioural issues known as ‘barbed wire disease’. Receiving its name from the aimless promenading of inmates up and down the barbed-wire boundary, other symptoms included moroseness and avoidance of others. It was decided that providing practical stimulation would help. The Friends’ Emergency Committee (a Quaker organisation) based in Great Britain was invited to the Island from 1915 onwards with the aim of providing books, tools, equipment and materials for the inmates to work and establish workshops.

Measurements: Whole: 6.3 x 19.3 x 6.3 cm

Materials: brass, mammal bone, wood

Object name: Box

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 1999-0123



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