Antique death rattles - AmericaNowNews.com

Antique death rattles

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This rare military collectible might look like a party favor, but it's really a valuable piece of history.  Here's why you don't want to toss a "death rattle" in the toy bin.

The Encyclopedia Britannica traces the first use of chemical warfare to the German army in World War I.

As soon as an attack was detected, a soldier would crank a wooden device called a "gas rattle." When other troops heard the rattling sound, they would quickly don their gas masks. The gas rattle helped them survive clouds of chlorine, mustard gas or other deadly toxins.

Michael Roman has been collecting military memorabilia for over 30 years. He says some of the best and most valuable pieces are those that never actually made it to battle.

"They were meant to be heard for 100 yards around, so would often be the last sound you heard if you were too close to the gas," says Roman.

Michael says authentic antiques that came back from the war can be fragile.

"Unfortunately, it's so old that its spokes have started to break off, and that's why I don't really sound it," says Michael. "An original one like this is probably in the $200 to $300 range."

Ironically, the gas rattle evolved into small, celebratory noise-makers.

"These days, most people of this generation knows this as a party favor that's used on New Year's Eve to ring in the New Year," says Michael. "So it's very light-hearted and light-spirited."

Today, most nations around the world have banned the use of chemical warfare. While times have changed, the historic significance of the antique gas rattle is everlasting. And that's the sign of a true treasure!

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