Original French Second Empire Model 1860 Enlisted Leather Shako
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very nice example of a French Second Empire Model 1860 military shako, circa 1865. The body is constructed almost entirely of leather, and this is definitely for an enlisted soldier, and not an officer. The exterior is all black, with the correct 9 hole vents on either side. The front of the helmet has a French Crowned Imperial Eagle plate over the correct Tri-Color Cockade. The plume / pom-pom is unfortunately missing, which would be used to identify the unit that the soldier was a part of.
The interior of the shako is quite nice, with the original leather liner still present, and faded maker and arsenal markings ink stamped onto the leather body. The chin strap is missing, however the attachment straps on the top of the shako are still present.
Overall the shako is sound condition, but shows age and wear. A great display piece!
History of the shako-
The word shako originated from the Hungarian name csákós süveg ("peaked cap"), which was a part of the uniform of the Hungarian hussar of the 18th century. Other spellings include chako, czako, schako and tschako.
From 1800 on the shako became a common military headdress, worn by the majority of regiments in the armies of Europe and the Americas. Replacing in most instances the light bicorne, the shako was initially considered an improvement. Made of heavy felt and leather, it retained its shape and provided some protection for the soldier's skull, while its visor shaded his eyes. The shako retained this pre-eminence until the mid-19th century, when spiked helmets began to appear in the armies of the various German States, and the more practical kepi replaced it for all but parade wear in the French Army. The Imperial Russian Army substituted a spiked helmet for the shako in 1844-45 but returned to the latter headdress in 1855, before adopting a form of kepi in 1864. Following the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, military fashions changed and cloth or leather helmets based on the German headdress began to supersede the shako in many armies.
Although the mid-nineteenth century shako was impressive in appearance and added to the height of the wearer, it was also heavy and by itself provided little protection against bad weather as most models were made of cloth or felt material over a leather body and peak. Many armies countered this by utilizing specially designed oilskin covers to protect the shako and the wearer from heavy rain while on campaign. The shako provided little protection from enemy action as the most it could offer was in giving partial shielding of the skull from enemy cavalry sabres
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