History of Conti CO.MO.G.E.
(from three articles written by Mario Mazzilli on TSC a Railway Models’ British Magazine) clicca quì per la versione in Italiano
In 1946 the cousins Parretti, three railwaymen of the Italian FS (Ferrovie dello Stato), started to build for themselves a model of a locomotive; after showing it to some friends, who were most surprised at the quality of the model realised, they decided to start a production with the trade mark CO.MO.G.E.which means Costruzione Motori Giocattoli Elettrici. One year later they met Giuseppe Conti, who had been a producer of wooden toys and dolls since the beginning of the century and they convinced him to start producing trains. The factory was in Bollate a medium town near Milan and the building is now to be reconstructed for a new use .
Conti production lasted from 1947 to the beginning of the 1960’s finishing when the Parrettis left the company as Conti sold the business to Oreste Cicchetti.A last attempt of production of trains Conti was made with BUB but only for few time. Conti trains are toy trains and not modelled or any particular prototype, the models are very strong both in their construction and in the motors and they are built to a scale slightly larger than HO (approx 1:72). Originally the trains were built to be powered by AC current on 3 rail track but later models used DC power and 2 rail track. The majority of models were constructed in aluminium with parts in steel, zinc and bronze and some models such as the beautiful “Settebello” or the Belvedere have parts in zama like some old Marklin trains.
Conti was the Italian competitor of Marklin and made approx 20 models of locomotives and 50/60 models of rolling stock and with accessories and variation of colours or details there are around 300 pieces (maybe more) needed to represent a full Conti collection.
Conti trains are very rare as approx. only 60.000 pieces (locos were numbered under the base) were produced from 1947 to 1962……..how many still exist after approximately half a century? ….an estimation is no more than 5.000/6000 pieces (including accessories and coaches and trucks) and approximately 80/100 collectors in the world (obviously the majority are in Italy).
It seems now that new generation of collectors have started to appreciate the Conti models…one of the most well known models of locomotives by Conti is the E 424 this was produced from the beginning up to the final production there are two version with one or two engines and approx 12 different types, the body features pantographs which are fully operational, the 424 was sold also in a set named Trans Europe Express which included four coaches, (the green baggage, the purple pullman, the blue restaurant and the blue wagon lit.
Like the locomotive all these coaches were produced with working lights.
This train was available for use with AC or DC current also with fixed couplings or with spring couplings so many variation for to-days collector, there were also variations in the colour which sometimes was light blue and sometimes dark blue with different tone of green and purple for the coaches. Other variations were on some details on the roof of the old coaches produced…to complete the rake of coaches a fifth model was produced in two colours and named Milan-Rome, this is the rarest of the five almost in a version produced all green.
Other locos by Conti in this period (late 50’s early 60’s) includes the following three steam locomotives, the SM 735 with lights, three axles with tender, the 475 SM tank loco two axles, the S.M. 4000 with lights, then three strange models with pantographs the S.M: 4001, the S.M: 480 and the 390 S.M:
The most beautiful models of loco from that period are the blue Belvedere, the Arlecchino Fs four pieces and the green Settebello seven pieces these are considered the top of the Conti range from this period.
There are also approx. 20 models of rolling stock between them some rare trucks with Mercury crane, cars and buses…all the rolling stock items were made of aluminium.
The first Conti production of the end of the 1940’s is based on the “littorine” A.T.772 which were produced in different colours (blue, brown and red) and the much more rare littorine (or elettrotreni) two elements (in light blue and white) and the three elements (all brow and or kaky) that very few collectors have.
Early Conti production is different from the production of the following years as all the items have very distinct details and most items had a small logo of a coloured train (they put this logo on the base or on the back and sometimes more than one logo)…also the couplings, the buffers and the hooks were different. Shown here are some of the locos produced at the time….a blue and brown “littorina 772 with lights (cars of this period are all in the alternate power)..see image the loco 424 had two motors when in the traditional kaki colour (there is also a rare version in green) …
The loco with pantograph FS 554 which is one of the smallest Conti locos and is called also “Cucciolo” with pantograph.
The steam loco FS 290 with lights and the big steam loco with tender 836 in three or four versions…also coaches and trucks were very strange in the shape. You can also see some examples of oil tankers and a decouville with real Conti coke or a truck with real wood and logo printed on the wood…the small blue and white coach is difficult to find… Conti models railways included different stations, bridges and accessories.
Very little has been written about Conti trains and should somebody know more I would be grateful if they could inform me.
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