Umberto Boccioni – Biaggi G.E.M. (first part)

Umberto Boccioni

(The street enters the house – 1911)



To know about the artist

To know about the artist

Biaggi – G.E.M.

First part

(Written by P.G.)

Cat art

(Cat art)

The production Biaggi – GEM

HO / OO scale (first part)

In 1945 Francesco Biaggi, thirty-five years old, recorded the brand GEM (Toys Electro Mechanical)
The company, with headquarters in Milan, in 7, Via Ciro Menotti , initially produced trains in O and 1 scale, boats and models of other means of transport.
From 1947 also produced trains in HO / OO scale and the first package was exposed at the fair in Milan the same year.
From that date until the mid-50s it produced OO trains in both under the brand “Biaggi” andย  “GEM”.
The brand GEM disappeared around 1955 and Francesco Biaggi, name well known in Europe, produced exclusively trains O and 1 scale only, under the name “Biaggi.”

Visioni simultanee Boccioni
Initially, the power supply system was adopted to 4 rails in CA, with the heads of the inductor coils of the motor connected to the two inner rails, while the mass was formed by the two outer rails not isolated from each other.
This system was also used by COS.MO, defined on the packaging “Biaggi system”

Fig 15 . Gottardo COS.MO sistema Biaggi

and remained in use until 1949, the year of his change in favor of the system to AC three rails
HO / OO scale appeared in the catalogs 1950

Fig 01 Catalogo GEM 1950and 1952


1) Locomotive

All locomotives have the superstructure similar, though you can see three successive variants of the same mold. Change the layout of the master cylinder, tank, the cylinder block.
ย The engine is similar to the Maerklin of the same period, the U-turn, for models with three rails, is always with manual lever located on the boiler immediately behind the chimney except for the locomotive GEM A5, which is equipped with reverse relais. The first engines were to brush-holder apparent” on the right side of the boiler, the second version instead requires disassembly of the superstructure for the replacement of the brushes.
ย The drive wheels initially in zamak, are then replaced with steel wheels. The bearing wheels could be in zamak or in aluminum. The hooks are quite similar to those Maerklin of the 40s.
Known the following models:
– The “Porter” GEM M3 : 1-2-0 with tender two axles

Fig 02 locomotiva 1-2-0

– The “Mogul” GEM M4 : 1-3-0 with tender two axles

Fig 03 locomotiva 1-3-0
– The “Prairie2 GEM M5 : 1-3-1 first version with tender two axles

Fig 05 Locomotiva 1-3-1 prima versione
here in the second version GEM M5A with tender double axles, also offered with relais for inversion with reference GEM A5A

Fig 08 Locomotiva 1-3-1 seconda versione

2) Passenger carriages

– Series of “primordial” vehicles with two axles, and its baggage, of various colors with cast metal heads, frame and side panels made of sheet metal, which we will discuss in a later article.
– Series of vehicles with two axles with die-cast chassis, superstructure and roof sheet veneer, plastic wheels. Design similar to the cars Maerklin series 341-343, but “shortened” and two axels. Known liveried bi-yellow / brown, green or even blue version CIWL

Fig 04 Set 1947
– Series of cars to trucks entirely in metal sliced โ€‹โ€‹trucks with side panels in sheet or in zamak, metal wheels, always marked “Biaggi” and GEM

Fig 07 Set per FC Weber
ABZ Italian car color brown / cream

Italian baggage color brown/beige
Car restaurant CIWL
Car beds CIWL

3) Wagons
They have all the chassis with two axles, the same cars, approx twenty different known

Fig 10 Set merci
Wine barrels, tanks for milk, fuel tanks are turned wood or tin welded, cars and trucks are Mercury.

Even at these wagons will dedicate a special article

4) Transformers

trasformatore GEM
On the catalogs are the models T10 and T10 S.

The second was probably not ever made

5) Rails

binario Biaggi prima versione
Those initial four rails are the same adopted by COS.MO , the three rail tracks are similar to Maerklin series .

6) Complete Packs

GEM produced a beautiful packaging called “Orient-Express” exclusively for the Swiss retailer Franz Carl Weber,


ย  and here shows a set with 1-2-0 and train passengers,

Fig 04 Set 1947

those with freights train


ย  could have two to six assorted wagons.

It should be noted that the name GEM was used in three other cases from manufacturers of miniature railways in scale HO / OO:
– The brand GEM was filed in France by George Ernest Merli, also of Italian origin, in 1951, to mark tin trains partly built under license by the German Konrad Dressler


ย  The GEM was later incorporated by France-Jouets.

– And the name of an English manufacturer of superstructures in kits for OO locomotives in scale and narrow gauge

Fig 13 Gem GB Kits
– And the logo used from 1958 to the late 60s by a US importer of Japanese models brass handcrafted in small series

Fig 14 GEM US catalogo

continues in the second part


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(@ February 24, 2015)