[ABC]. An Italian educational wall alphabet. Circa 1942-1945.
A total of 31 educational classroom wall plaques, each 246 x 345mm, on thick card, with rounded corners, forming a complete pictorial Italian alphabet (J, K, W, X and Y are not used in the Italian alphabet, and H here is unillustrated) alongside 10 further plaques featuring trigraphs (Ch, Gh, Gn, Gr, Sc, Sc, St, Tr) and duplicate examples for G - gatto and C - cane), all handsomely presented in a recent custom-made grey cloth-covered solander case with navy blue leather label lettered in gilt; some overall marking, foxing, and dusting, with pin holes, and associated staining, to the corners; occasional edge and corner wear and old glue marks to the versos; 3 with a couple of manuscript letters in pen to the margins in a child's hand; 2 with heavier browning; Sc - sciatore - with some surface damage to the skier's hat, Tr - treno - with the small "fascio littorio" symbol on the front of the locomotive partially hidden by over-colouring; B - bandiera (featuring the Italian flag) displaying vestiges of glued paper to cover the ensign of the Royal House of Savoy, which was sympathetic to the fascist dictatorship which was defeated in the institutional referendum of 2 June 1946 when the Italian Republic was established; rare.
A fascinating survival from the propaganda period, in Italy, during the fascist dictatorship of World War II. This educational tool was retrieved from a private house in Verona, which was one of the last Italian cities in Mussolini's Italian Socialist Republic to be liberated by American troops, on 26th April 1945 (Milan was liberated a day earlier; a date which marks Italy's Liberation Day), before the ceasefire and conclusion of the war on 2nd May 1945. Most fascinatingly the alphabet includes a rare F for fascio, illustrating a Fascio Litterio, the symbol for the fascist regime. The plaque presumably only survived destruction because the image was overlaid and hidden at the fall of the dictatorship when most printed material from this period was obliterated. The speculative date for the alphabet has been arrived at by considering the design of the bomber plane representing A - aereoplano - which resembles the German Dornier Do 217. The Italian Royal Air Force acquired 12 such aircraft between 1942 and 1943. The example here has 3 very small symbols of the 'fascio littorio' below one of its wings.