Lambretta: The Nymph stamp
Off course Italy is the European scooter country of the 50-ies, and we have seen quite a few off these vehicles passing along on Tifosi stamps. In 1996 we celebrated the half-a-century anniversary of the wasp made by Piaggio, the Vespa, and in 2012 we saw a fully dressed postman stepping on the gas on a Piaggio Liberty 125. But he will not have come far with the rear wheel hovering above the ground and standing on the center stand....
The same Liberty we saw next to the Moto Guzzi Galletto (= cockerel) from 2013. If we count them both, these are scooty number 3 and 4. And the last-but-one is the half depicted scooter on the 80 cents stamp from 2014, with a post scooty in simplified form.
This time the Lambretta is honoured in the yearly recurring series "Iconic products made in Italy". This year it is exactly 70 years ago that the scaffolding pipe manufacturing Luigi Innocenti produced the Lambretta in Lambrate, a suburb of Milan lying upon the Lambro river. Just like Piaggio he had copied the concept from the light motorcycles used by the USA army, the Cushman autoscooters.
Earlier Innocenti had already invented a small model freight car, the Lambro, built from his scaffolding pipe.
This time a light engine that could be built into an open frame was developed in co-operation with Agusta, which was not allowed to build helicopters for some time after the war. The name from the mytical water nymph was chosen: Lambretta, who was thought to live in the Lambro river.
When affordable small cars appeared the popularity of the light scooters declined, and therefore the factory stopped producing scooters. All equipment was sold to the Indian SIL (Scooters India Ltd.) that produced model D under the name Vijay. The vehicle branch of Innocenti tried to survive by making the Mini in license, together with the English Austin. When this also did not turn into a success and Leyland retired in 1973, Innocenti stopped the vehicle branch and again became a pipe manufacturer.
In the peak years the Lambretta was, next to in India by A.P.I. (Automobile Products of India) and SIL, also built in amongst others Colombia (Auteco), Brazil (Lambretta do Brasil), Germany (N.S.U.), Argentina (Siambretta), Spain (Serveta), France (S.I. de Troyes) and in Taiwan (Yulon).
Only in the Italian facilities not less than 1.975.000 scooters, 260.000 freight scooters and 235.000 mopeds (the Lambrettino's) were produced. Of the new stamp a lot less have been printed. The stamp shows an advertising poster drawn by the well-known drawer of "decently dressed" Pin-ups: Franco Mosca. Innocenti hired this artist to be able to use the American style of advertising, about which also the Italians were enthusiastic. And this worked! His motorcycle for the ordinary man, the Lambretta model A, became a success. In the next years Mosca drew some more nice posters for the Lambro and Lambretta.
Vespa, with a larger turn-over than Lambretta, later snatched the advertisement bureau away
from Innocenti and we all know the many drawn pictures with Vespa ladies.
For use on the stamp a less known image of the Lambretta was searched, and this was found at the curator of the Innocenti museum: Vittorio Tessera. Vittorio started at the age of 17 the club "Friends of the Lambretta scooter", opened a shop in scooter parts and restauration in Rodano, and there exposed his own Lambretta collection.
The chosen image came from a large advertising poster and postcards derived from it. In the foreground a Lambretta model D (simply: the 4th model, identified by the 4th letter of the aphabet). With the engine placed in the open this was more a mens model. For the ladies a more closed model was developed with the name LDA (Ladies D Automatic) with an electric starter. Characteristic is the wave in the rear mudguard to make space for the spare tyre.
The last model, introduced in 1953, became very popular under the European youth and got the nickname Modified D (MoD). Both models exist in 125 as well as 150 cc version.
Do you still recognise this as.... well, what???
Of the self-adhesive stamp 900.000 pieces have been printed, in sheets of 28. Exceptional is that the stamps have been printed in 6 colour RotoCalcografie, which delivers a very plain image. Add a transparent top layer and print on fluor free self-adhesive double paper of 90/80 gramms and the result is this pretty stamp.
On the poster and the card is the text:
La felicitá va sempre in Lambretta (The highest speed is in Lambretta). Nowadays not a good slogan, and therefore this has been removed from the stamp.
A bit unusual is that the day of issue was planned on Saturday June 3th 2017. Not that strange when you know that at this day a huge meeting was organized by the Italian scooter clubs to celebrate the anniversary of Lambretta. From June 1st to 4th the party was held in the region Veneto close to Adria. 1800 Lambrettists enscribed to participate in the weekend, amongst which participants from the USA, Vietnam, Australia and many from Europe, amongst whom 768 Italians and 649 English. During the demo-ride on the Saturday many more scooter riders joined and they brought the total number of participants of the tour through the Po valley at almost 3000.
In Italy you can score a special postmark almost every day, too much to list them all.... but to my opinion this Lambretta postmark with Pinoccio on a scooter fits very well to this story.
Postmark on the coccasion of the 20th anniversary of the Lambretta Club Toscany (left) and first day of issue of the stamp
Greeting without a growing nose,
Hans de Kloet
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