Original Swiss WWI Cavalry Officer Shako Helmet Marked to the 1st Cavalry

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a nice WWI Era Swiss Cavalry Officer's Shako Leather Helmet, with the correct cockades and insignia. It is made of pressed felt over a leather shell, with black leather front and rear visors, and Nickel Silver rim. It has the correct officer's chin scales, running to a hook on the back of the helmet. Normally these would have a plume on the front of the helmet, however on this example is unfortunately missing. The front of the helmet has an 8 sided star, with a Swiss Cross in the middle, overlaid on a wreath. There is a number 1 in the center, for the 1st cavalry.

The helmet is in very good condition, with only light wear. Both the front and rear visors are still solidly attached, and overall the metal trim is in very good shape. The chin scales do show some degradation, with the leather backing separated in places. There is a white and lime green cockade on the side of the helmet, which we have not been able to identify.

Interior leather liner is well worn and is a bit stiff. The helmet however still has a very nice original chin strap, which attaches to the interior top of the shako. Very nice and full of research potential!

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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