A few years ago, I visited with Giorgio about World War 1 collectibles with Hungarian connections. His wife, Olga, was one of my Hungarian instructors at the Debreceni Nyari Egyetem. Giorgio has been able to turn his love for and knowledge about World War I items into his livelihood. Read on to learn about these items that might be squirreled away in your collection or amongst the treasures of a family member or friend. If you are interested in seeing what he has to offer at his eBay store his link information will be at the end of this article.
Among numerous WW1 objects you can collect, perhaps the most fascinating are the cap badges that soldiers of all ranks of Austro-Hungarian monarchy used to fix on their field caps. It was very popular to wear these badges from the very beginning of the Great War when the Supreme Army Headquarter formed a group of artists who created an enormous number of propaganda items including Cap Badges (”Kappenabzeichen” in German, „Sapkajelvények” in Hungarian). Cap badges were represented the portrait of the emperor and military commanders, commemorated armies and regiments, battles and campaigns, military hospitals and the Red Cross. Hundreds of types were produced by monarchy factories, like Arkanzas, Morzsány, Jerouschek, and Wirth, operating in Budapest.
One of the most beautiful cap badges is that of the 1st Royal Hungarian Honvéd of Budapest.
The regiment fought with great valour during the war. In 1914 they defended Dukla pass in the Carpathians, in 1915 they fought on the Isonzo Front in the bloody battles of Mount San Michele and Doberdó for 16 months. The badge was designed by the sculptor Berán Lajos (1882-1943) and it portrays the empress Elisabeth who on October 31, 1869 donated the war flag with two textile bands she had embroidered with the words „Királyért és Hazaért” (for the Country and King), that became the motto of the Honvéd.
An interesting way to get closer to WW1 art is to collect Austro-Hungarian patriotic badges.
The planning, production, and sale of these badges were supervised by the Hungarian War Relief Fund /Hadsegélyző Hivatal/, (picture 4 and 5) and its Austrian equivalent /K.u.K. Kriegsministerium Kriegsfürsorgeamt/.
The aim of the production of these badges was to collect funds to cover the costs of the war, and also to finance help for the war widows, orphans, and for the maimed soldiers. Thousands of patriotic badges were produced in war metal, iron, or bronze, many were decorated in enamel, some of them had the shape of a cockade with the National Colors, and some made of glass. Most of them had the shape of medal with the portrait of the emperor or the high commanders. Many others had the form of a cross, and there were also enameled badges with the flags of the allied countries (Austria-Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria and Turkey).
Now after almost 100 years from the end of the Great War patriotic badges and Kappenabzeichen are becoming more and more difficult to find.
An easy way to get a little closer to the military history of the Hungarian soldiers during WWI is to collect postcards. They were produced by a great number of publishers mainly in the territories of Austria and Historic Hungary, more rarely in the territories of the actual Poland and Czech Republic.
The printed words on the postcards were either German or Hungarian, but you can find postcards with words printed in Polish, Czech, or Croatian. Collecting postcards you can follow all the places where battles took place. While postcards showing battles fought by Austrian-Hungarian soldiers against Russians are more common, is more difficult to find those showing fights on the Italian Front: Isonzo Front and Alps (Dolomits).
Some of the best quality postcards were produced by „Brüder Khon, Wien I” /B.K.W.I/, and by the office of propaganda of Austrian Navy /Österreischiche Flottenverein/.
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