Here’s the latest installment of American Chimera’s e-archeology project of digging up old Manion’s International Auction House listings I wrote in the early 2000’s, in an effort to rescue this era from the electronic abyss. I have added extra historical information for context and general entertainment. Photo quality varies as the original file servers that stored these listings and images crashed in early 2014 and could not be restored.
Moschettieri (Musketeers of Duce): Fez and Parade Helmet
Closely related to the Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale (Voluntary Militia for National Security), aka MVSN “Blackshirts,” the group’s uniforms were modeled on those of the Arditi – special storm troops of the Royal Italian Army in the First World War, and the cuirassier honor guard of Italy’s King Victor Emmanuel III (1869-1947).
Moschettieri uniforms were paid for by Mussolini. The troops, drawn under rigorous standards from those with ranking military and governmental posts, received no financial compensation for performing official and ceremonial duties. Their motto was “silent and faithful,” and their weapons consisted of the M-91 Carcano (Mannlicher-Carcano-Parravicino) rifle, and an M-23 dagger. The group lasted from 1923 until it was dissolved by decree when Italy entered the Second World War in June 1940.
The lot offered at Manion’s consisted of an original black fur fez with silver Moschettieri insignia to the front, a black frill comb to center top running front to back. “B.V. Prescuitti, Roma” maker marked to inside white silk crown, leather sweatband. Size 56. Lot included a black finished fiber parade helmet with standard GNR skull and crossbones insignia to front. Leatherette liner, Prescuitti maker marked inside crown, leather chinstrap.
Here’s a period news reel featuring the Moschettieri with fezzes galore, and a few fiber helmets.