Four years ago when I was in Fredericksburg, Texas, my wife and I happened upon a wonderful antique shop down called Der Alte Fritz. This place is a WW1 Imperial German collector's dream come true - the shop is filled with items from this period shipped direct from Germany. I saw the piece below for sale for a very cheap price, but I had my reservations because I didn't want to buy something that had been stolen from a fallen soldier's final resting place. I asked the shop owners (both from Germany) how this was obtained.
I was told that in Germany during that period, bodies were not embalmed, were placed in wood caskets, and their plot was leased for 50 years only. At the end of the 50 years, a new occupant is placed there and any markers in place are returned to the family if they want them. If no relatives are located or want the marker, they are melted down and used in constructing everything from bronze statues to pipe fixtures. When I heard this, I felt better about purchasing, so I did. This is one of the very few Imp. German items I have that is not directly related to aviation.
Now, I display it respectfully s a remembrance of a young fallen soldier who lost his life in battle. The piece is quite heavy weighing in at about 12 pounds, and measures 14 X 10 inches. It appears to be cast bronze.