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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello,

Perhaps someone out there could help me find any historical information concerning the photograph I have of Mussolini which appears to be signed by Vittorio Jano in 1935 or 1936. I acquired it from the family of an Egyptian photographer about 20 years ago in Cairo and there is no information about how it could have turned up there. Some images of it are here in my picassa web album online:

https://picasaweb.google.com/kjsorenson/MussoliniJano?feat=directlink#

I am familiar with Jano's accomplishments with Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari and the fact that the 1935 ALFA ROMEO 6C 2300 PESCARA SPYDER owned by Mussolini was engineered by him. I have assumed that the photograph was given to Jano by Mussolini as a token of his gratitude for the work done by Jano at Alfa Romeo that served to enhance the stature of Italian motor racing at the time. However, I would like to find out if the signature in pencil was done in fact by Jano, the photographer or somebody else? I believe the date of presentation is October 15, 1936 (?), but there also appears to be a '35' in the Jano signature. What might account for that? Did Jano have a personal relationship with Mussolini built around auto sport or auto racing? Who was the photographer in Rome? What happened to Jano's family?

What might have been Jano's connection with Egypt? Did Alfa Romeo participate in any of the auto shows in Cairo in the 1950s? Did they perhaps give Farouk a presentation car? My wife's deceased husband owned an 300SL Gullwing that had been given to one of Farouk's high officials by Mercedes as was apparently the custom back then. We missed the Gullwing sadly, as an uncle was able to finagle it out of his estate before my wife was able to claim it. It wasn't running, but at least I sat in it. However, that's Egypt.

Thanks in advance for any information on this subject,

Jim Sorenson
Saxonburg, PA

[email protected]
 

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Hello Mr. Sorenson.
"Xbre" is common shorthand in French and Italian for décembre/dicembre, i.e. the month of December. It's was originally the tenth month, hence the roman numeral "X" in it (but you probably already knew that). The Roman numeral XIV means 14 of course, but "December 15, 1914" is slightly unlikely.

I've never seen Vittorio Jano's (János Viktor's) signature anywhere, so I can't comment on it.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
aldo,

Thank you very much for the welcome.

Spelling wasn't my strongest subject, but in this case I think my spellchecker must have done it. LOL. I've made the corrections.. Many thanks for pointing that out.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter #5
TorW,

Many thanks for pointing out that X is most probably December and I did not know that.

("Xbre" is common shorthand in French and Italian for décembre/dicembre, i.e. the month of December. It's was originally the tenth month, hence the roman numeral "X" in it (but you probably already knew that))

I do believe, however, that XIV stands for 1936 as it is 14 years from the start of his reign, which was 1922. That leaves us with December 15, 1936.

I appreciate the information.

Many thanks,

Jim
 

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The pose exudes his ego. I would guess the photo was taken at a time when he had just gone to the sans hair (bald) look and might not correspond with when he signed it. It would be interesting to learn why and when he did that. Obviously, falling out hair shows aging and even today the chrome dome look is fashionable to disguise aging. Definitely a valuable article in the frame. My guess is $2500 at auction with Jano's on the same one. The mystery is why together.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks,

Yes, the question is why together? I had the signature authenticated years ago and the comment was that he looked quite young for being entirely bald. What is interesting also is that the photograph is intentionally slightly out of focus when you are close up to it, but when you move back a certain distance it takes on a 3-D effect. This was apparently one of the old black and white photo photographer tricks.
 

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You are right about the XIV. It means 14th year of the fascist era, which starts in October 1922.

Note that it could also be 36 under Jano's signature, which would tie. But I still wonder if it's really Vittorio Jano's. Do you imply that Jano's signature has been authenticated as being Vittorio's?

I see no reason for it: Jano was no fervent fascist, and, even assuming that he could have received a photo of Mussolini in occasion af any achievement (such as the victory of an Alfa at the Vanderbilt cup in October 1936?), why should he have signed next to Mussolini's own signature.

Analysing the item from that point of view, it would make sense if that signature would be from the photographer. Maybe another Jano?
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Mussolini's signature was authenticated. I've just added a photo of Mussolini sitting in a P3 with with a group of other persons, one of whom very well could be Jano. The article from which it came Book Review: Italian Racing Red mentions Jano. Another quote which suggests that there could have been a close relationship is as follows:

"Nevertheless, this is not the only Alfa Romeo belonging to the Italian dictator that went under the hammer. As a matter of fact, Mussolini had a very tight relation with the Italian luxury car maker.

For those who don't remember, another Alfa Romeo belonging to Mussolini, the 6C 2300 Pescara Spyder was sold at auction last year. The rare two-seater sports car was built as a gift for Il Duce after he saved the car manufacturer from going into liquidation during the Great Depression. Just as it happened with the 1937 Alfa Romeo 2300 MM, Mussolini's chauffeur raced the car in the 1936 Mille Miglia and came 13th."

That there could be a photographer named 'Jano' who took the picture is statistically very unlikely, but I would not rule it out entirely. Perhaps his brother or cousin had a studio in Rome and a favor was done. In Cairo, for example, that would be quite likely.

I do think that there is every possibility that Mussolini and Jano knew each other well over the period 1930 to 1936 at least. Mussolini was very close to the car company and could not have avoided coming into contact with its chief engineer. The other possibility that comes to mind is that the photograph was given to yet a third person by Jano and/or Alfa Romeo - and perhaps that's why it ended up in Cairo. King Farouk would be an interesting possibility?
 

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I vote that it isn't Vittorio Jano's signature. It would be easily confirmed by asking the archivists in Milan to investigate. There must be reams of paper with his signature in the files. The other thing that makes no sense is there is no automobile in the photo. If it was Jano, there would be wheels, not just some artie snapshot.
 

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There seems to be 2 distinct letters with down-strokes at the beginning of the signature. To me, it looks more like "Gplano" or "Gpiano" than "Jano."
 

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Probably not Jano

I agree that the added signature is probably not that of Vittorio Jano even if it is almost certain that they had met on some occasion or other. Mussolini visited Alfa Romeo more than once and purchased several cars during the time period in which Jano worked there. But, just because he was purchasing cars from time to time and directing some of the activities of Alfa Romeo does not mean he did so in any direct manner on a regular basis. He "had people" to do that sort of thing!

I think it most likely that the photo was signed 15 October 1936 in Rome (although it is remotely possible that 15 December was the date). I would look for any trace of a special event in Rome on either of the dates while concentrating on the former.

The other signature seems to me to be an artistic signature, whether or not it was the photographer. Perhaps G.____ano, as in "Giuliano" or something similar. The Italians were and are very good at that sort of abbreviation and similar things can be seen in language everywhere, from "C.so" for "Corso" to "P.za" for "Piazza" to "F.lli" for "Fratelli" and many more.

Seems like a very interesting Mussolini artifact but I'm afraid it is not likely to be a Jano artifact.

Best of luck.

John
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thank you John,

Your comments are well taken. I will have to see if I can find a copy of the signature of Vittoria Jano for one thing. A little hard research is in order. I have the name of one photographer who took Mussolini photographs in the 1930s such as this one. Perhaps there is a line of inquiry there? There are a couple of other examples of this type of photograph for Mussolini and in both cases the second signature was the recipient. The fact that this photograph came out of the collection of a prominent Egyptian photographer of the day could help. It's a shame I did not make more inquiries while I was living there.

Thanks for your interest and comment,

Jim
 

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Thank you John,

Your comments are well taken. I will have to see if I can find a copy of the signature of Vittoria Jano for one thing. A little hard research is in order. I have the name of one photographer who took Mussolini photographs in the 1930s such as this one. Perhaps there is a line of inquiry there? There are a couple of other examples of this type of photograph for Mussolini and in both cases the second signature was the recipient. The fact that this photograph came out of the collection of a prominent Egyptian photographer of the day could help. It's a shame I did not make more inquiries while I was living there.

Thanks for your interest and comment,

Jim
You didn't hear me... Contact [email protected]. Send him a copy of what you have posted and ask him to compare the signature you have with what is in the files for Jano. It should take him about 20 minutes.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Gian Galeazzo Ciano - a better fit?

This might be a far better fit than Jano. There is the hint of an 'i' before the 'ano' and that certainly could be a Capital C at the front. Whether that is his signature, if this is the case, remains to be seen and will require checking. It could be Ciano, but signed by the photographer or someone else.

I much appreciate what has been commented on this thread and as a result I may finally be heading in the right direction.

Many thanks


Gian Galeazzo Ciano

Ciano was executed in 1944, the year after he and other members of the Fascist Grand Council finally voted down the Duce. His wife, Edda, smuggled his diaries into Switzerland under her skirt. They were published in abridged form even before the war ended, and were used at the Nuremberg trials in 1946 to undermine the defense of Ciano’s Nazi counterpart, Joachim von Ribbentrop.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I found this signature on an image of the cover of his diaries. I think it's close enough to be correct? The style is the same and the letters are very close to being the same. The curve of what would the the "C" is spot on. There there is the overlaid "G" at the start. He was appointed Foreign Minister by Mussolini in 1936. He was very much a good guy who went against the war and his father-in-law and paid with his life.

You are probably right about this photo as a gift. As Foreign Minister, he may have given it to the Ambassador of Egypt. Or it was given to the Ambassador of Egypt to be given to King Farouk. There were huge auctions of everything Farouk had acquired - including his two Alfa Romeos. This is why it ended up in the hands of a professional Egyptian photographer who probably purchased it at auction.

It's coming together, I think.. Many thanks for you assistance on this.
Jim

https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/Iq5GTZbNKIWnoCM733axbQ?feat=directlink
 

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He was very much a good guy who went against the war and his father-in-law and paid with his life.
I think you are correct that the signature may be "GgCiano" although, when following sequence of the pencils strokes, it appears to be written as "CGgiano."

However, I think you are probably wrong thinking of Ciano as a "good guy." This web page says "In 1933 he became the head of Mussolini's press office, and in 1935 he was promoted to Minister of Press and Propaganda" (i.e. he became the Italian Goebbels). I think anybody in charge of propaganda in a fascist government can, by definition, not be a "good guy".

Furthermore, this web page says he "was considered a cruel occupier" when he was Viceroy of Albania. I don't know if that would qualify him as war criminal, but it certainly sounds like he committed crimes against humanity.

I have a hunch his limited enthusiasm for the pact with Germany and his voting against Mussolini served only one purpose: Grabbing more power for himself.
 
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