Original British Hussar Royal Horse Artillery Regiment Other Ranks Busby with Plume

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very beautiful genuine synthetic fur bearskin Busby used by the Royal Horse Artillery, and has been ever since the infamous “Charge of the Light Brigade” in the 1850s. The helmet is complete with the symbolic right side “Red Bag” and yellow/gold cord surrounding, along with patent leather chin strap and white plume.

Size is approximately a US 7 1/4. Makes a wonderful display item!

Busby (Military Headdress)
Busby is the English name for the Hungarian prémes csákó ("fur shako") or kucsma, a military head-dress made of fur, originally worn by Hungarian hussars. In its original Hungarian form the busby was a cylindrical fur cap, having a bag of coloured cloth hanging from the top. The end of this bag was attached to the right shoulder as a defense against saber cuts.

In Great Britain busbies are of two kinds: (a) the hussar busby, cylindrical in shape, with a bag; this is worn by hussars and the Royal Horse Artillery; (b) the rifle busby, a folding cap of astrakhan (curly lambswool) formerly worn by rifle regiments, in shape somewhat resembling a Glengarry but taller. Both have straight plumes in the front of the headdress.

The popularity of this military headdress in its hussar form reached a height in the years immediately before World War I (1914–1918). It was widely worn in the British (hussars, yeomanry, and horse artillery), German (hussars), Russian (hussars), Dutch (cavalry and artillery), Belgian (Guides and field artillery), Bulgarian (Life Guards), Romanian (cavalry), Austro-Hungarian (Hungarian generals), Serbian (Royal Guards), Spanish (hussars and mounted cazadores) and Italian (light cavalry) armies.

There were some variations in the materials of which cavalry busbies were made. Thus Russian Cossacks of the Imperial Guard used black sheepskin, Guard Hussars dark brown long-haired fur, and line Hussars black lambswool. All but one of the twenty Prussian Hussar regiments wore sealskin busbies dyed in black, while their officers favored dark brown otter-skin. The Brunswick Hussar Regiment No. 17 had the distinction of being issued busbies made of bearskin.

Possibly the name's original sense of a "busby wig" came from association with Richard Busby, headmaster of Westminster School in the late seventeenth century; the later phrase buzz wig may have been derived from busby. An alternative explanation is that the British hussar cap of the early 19th century was named after the hatter who supplied the officer's version—W. Busby of the Strand London. The modern British busby is worn with full dress by the Waterloo Band of The Rifles, the Royal Horse Artillery and ceremonial detachments at regimental expense. In its hussar version it is now made of black nylon fur, although Bandmasters still retain the original animal fur.

The busby should not be mistaken for the much taller bearskin cap, worn most notably by the five regiments of Foot Guards of the Household Division (Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards). Around 1900 the word "busby" was used colloquially to denote the tall bear and raccoon skin "caps" worn by foot guards and fusiliers and the feather bonnets of Highland infantry. This usage is now obsolete.

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