The Long Shadow of Il Duce

What at first glance might seem to be a typical communist badge produced in their thousands across Europe hides an interesting secret. Anyone unaware of its hidden message might part with it for much less than the £45 that is the going rate.

In the years following the second world war, Italian fascist political prisoners made thousands of these badges as part of their rehabilitation. They could be fixed to a jacket by a pin and hook device, a simple stickpin or, as here, flat prongs. Although they are intended to celebrate May Day, the central event in the communist calendar, when inverted and turned round, we can see the unmistakeable silhouette of Mussolini.

Italy never experienced a process of denazification in political life and we can still see the effects today as two of his granddaughters are still active in politics, one as a council leader in Rome, the other as an MEP.