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Italian AL Valore Militare - colonial issue in silver for Libya - 9th Eritrean Battalion

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Just bought this. I Think it's a rare one. Engraved on the back "Zuetina - 12 Marzo 1914" and "Barachi Cafsa" (I think).

Zuetina is a town in libya. A fierce battle took place there on March 12, 1914. It involved the 9th Eritrean Battalion fighting Senuss tribesmen in Italy's campaign to consolidate control over Libya.

Below are pics of obverse and reverse. Also a post card I found depicting the 9th fighting at Zuetina on the 12th.

Still a few questions...

Am I reading his name correctly?

What other avenues are there for research?

What do you think it's worth? There is a bronze one on a well known dealers site for £1550. The silver are much rarer (although the bronze are rare in their own right).

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After a little more research. Here is an alternative back to the above postcard. One version is plain while this one has a list of medals won by the battalion in Libya.

Zuetina:

1 Military Order of Savoy

1 AL Valore Militare to the battalion

67 AL valore militaire in silver

110 al valore militaire in bronze

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The colonial Al Valore is a very rare beast both in silver and bronze and yours is in surprisingly good condition and thus not the easiest thing to put a price on but I would have thought and auction estimate of £2,000 would be sensible and it might go on to reach £2,500 or so.

Hope this is of help.

Paul

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Wow Paul that is more than I thought. Anyone know where I can find a good acount of the battle of zuetina? Either in English or italian.

Also is his first name Barachi or is that his last?

Edited by ralstona

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Barachi is a relatively common Italian surname, so I suspect Cafsa is his first name and maybe a product of mixed Italian-native relationship.

Paul

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I'm not sure I am even reading "Cafsa" correctly on the medal.

Does this obverse mean he was native or mixed and non-Christian? Did white officers or ncos in colonial units get the Savoy crest or the portrait obverse like their men?

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Basically I suspect he was the offspring of an Italian and a local lady and as such he would not be considered truly Italian, although he knew what side his bread buttered.

Paul

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Chris,

The native troop al Valores were awarded in relatively small numbers and very rarely appear on the market. While I have encountered large numbers of the ordinary al Valores over 35 years I have never handled a native issue and I suspect they were extremely hard earned, especially the silvers (and I suspect many of the silver issues ended up either being melted down or quite severely damaged (anyone who has encountered Great War medals to Africans in the British service will concur that they often look as if they have passed through a goat's digestive tract). Given that an ordinary al Valore from this period will make quite a good sum, certainly several hundreds of pounds. This example is very rare and in good condition and I suspect that there would be several interested parties were such a piece to appear on the market.

Paul

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I think this one also has going for it a bit more context than most. The 9th eritrean battalion was the only one engaged at Zuetina so it makes it easier to pin him down. The post cards help to. It will frame up nicely and it is nice to have award numbers listed for the al valores.

Now I need to find some more details about Zuetina. From the little i've found it was a gruesome affair, lots of hand to hand fighting with knives.

Would a campaign medal have come with this too? i.e. the libia reverse version of the italo-Turkish war medal.

I'm almost embarrassed to mention what paid for it... $300.

Art

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What I know is it was 2,000 Sanussi tribesmen against 450 Italian forces but the Sanussi came second and the started making washing machines (no that's Zanussi).

Paul

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Hello,

the Colonial "Al Valore Militare" medals were awarded to native troops only and this piece awarded to Barachi Cassa (the italian more-or-less phonetical transliteration, of an somali/Arab name) for the battle of Zuetina is also engraved exactly as it should be, with its cursive font.

I can say that it's an extremely fine piece, to be considered as very rare, in the italian collecting community.

I'm still laughing, thinking at a possible Lybian origin of the Zanussi family...

Best wishes,

Enzo (E.L.)

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Had to look up the washing machine reference...we don't have that brand here☺ The postcard above mentions that the unit received the al valore militare in silver. I assume that means to decorate their flag? Were these "named"?

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Yes, the "Al Valore" medals awarded to an unit were regularly "named" to it and suspended to the flag's staff by means of a long ribbon of its proper colour.

Zanussi was the family, owner of the "REX" brand of washmachines and other home equipment. Now, the former Zanussi/REX industries are property of the swedish Electrolux company: most of the plants in Italy are now closed and the workers, jobless.

But that's another story...

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I have seen in Rome (I can't remember where possibly the wedding cake) Regimental standards with Al Valores attached to them.

Paul

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Were awards listed in the Official Gazette? Any chance that citations exist somewhere?

Edited by ralstona

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The Medals for Valour awarded to native troops weren't recorded in the "Bollettino Ufficiale"; they were simply recorded at the Ministry of Colonies in special registers. Until now, those papers haven't been found anywhere. I've been told that the registers for the Erithrean and Somali troops were preserved at the Governatorate of Asmara: the whereabouts of those Archives (except some yet unexplored crates of documents sent to Italy in the late '50s), are unknown.

Best wishes,

Enzo

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So unlike the British colonies the Italian colonies did not publish gazettes (such as the Sudanese Gazette Straits Settlements Gazette &c). So there was never an Eritrean Gazette (even though Italy controlled it for 50 odd years). It seems the Italians lacked the bureaucratic obsession of the British.

Paul

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Actually, Italy is obsessed by bureaucracy; better, by a picturesque bureaucracy.

A brand new "pearl": a few days ago, a decree was published, concerning any owner of a car (private or a society): if any car could be driven by a person different from the owner, this name/s has to be registered on the car's papers. To accomplish this, one has to fill an orientally complicated form; enclose the (authenticated) copies of the owner's and the possible other driver/s ID documents and driver's licenses; enclose the receipts of payment of two different registration taxes; send the whole in an envelope as registered mail to the Ministry of Public Transports and wait for the arrival of a nice sticker to apply on the car's papers. Once the further driver/s cease to use the car/s, the owner has to repeat the procedure, asking to cancel the names of the "temporary drivers" and obtain new car's papers in their original edition. Who, from November 3rd 2014 after an administrative control is found to allow his car to be used by other people, not having the name/s registered, shall receive a 750,- Euro fine, plus the car can't be used, until the new, updated car's papers are ready.

Everybody knows that very few people, in Italy do own a car...

Please excuse me for the off-topic...

Edited by Elmar Lang

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Is it correct to draw the parallel between the Al Valore Militare in Silver and the DCM in the British System (with the gold version being a VC and the bronze a MM)?

I have to check on those unit awards. I live not far from West Point and I am sure I have seen some captured Italian flags from North Africa on display there. Never looked closely but may have some medals attached.

Speaking of the Al Valore in Gold. One of only 4 foreigners to win one is buried just a few miles from my house in Tenafly, NJ. Lieutenant Coleman DeWitt was KIA in 1918 at Vittorio-Veneto. The other three were 2 French pilots and Czar Nicholas II!

Edited by ralstona

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You know, I have no idea where it is. Never thought about it before but sure would like to see (or own) it. Need to do some looking. What do you think it would be worth?

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