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Knockaloe Camp playing cards box

Date made: 1914-1918

Description: A wooden rectangular box made to hold two packs of playing cards. The box has a single central partition and two compartments to hold the two packs of playing cards and a drop on lid. The box is of basic construction with a wooden base covered in thin sheets of mahogany veneer and the decorated with a basic marquetry inlay design of the ace of clubs and spades at either end of box in dark contrasting wood and the ace of hearts and diamonds on front and back of the box. The long panels of veneer are beginning to separate from the box and one side of the veneer on the lid is missing. The box has the incised inscription on the base of 'Fritz Kohler P.o.W. 8476 Knockaloe I.o.M.'. The box was made at Knockaloe Civilian Internment Camp.

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: overall: 9.4 x 10.7 x 6.4 cm

Materials: wood

Object name: card box

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 1995-0194



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