Stiassi e Tantini

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The Stiassi e Tantini company (which historically has gone through many name changes) is one of the oldest fountain pens manufacturers on the Italian market, but unlike the other major Italian brands its production has been deployed with a variety of different names, of which the best known are The Scotland and Tabo, used in two different time periods. The brand The Scotland is the older of the two, and dates back to 1920, the brand Tabo instead was adopted from the late '30s.

The company was active in the Bologna area and it's often assumed having ties (in particular for the The Scotland brand production) with Omas, but none is clearly documented. It is considered for the quality of its pens one of the most interesting historic Italian producers. The company produced high-quality fountain pens until all the 40s, but suffered heavily in the post-war from the effects the success of the ballpoint pen, and production ceased in the '50s.

History

The company's origins are between the oldest ones in Italy and at the Chamber of Commerce of Bologna the company appears to have been founded as Stiassi e Tantini in 1919 (12/17/1919) by Giuseppe Tantini and Giorgio Stiassi having a corporate purpose as Commercio di articoli di cancelleria e carta da scrivere (stationery and paper commerce). It was based in "via Combusti 5" and "via Nazario Sauro 1", in Bologna.[1]

The Stiassi e Tantini activities remained predominantly in the field of the stationery commerce and the firm was until 1924 the only representative for Italy of Woodstok typewriters. The fountain pens production was presumably stared with the brand The Scotland, although some believe that this brand has been primarily used for marking pens produced by others (presumably OMAS and Montegrappa).

The history of the The Scotland brand is still very uncertain. In 1920 the two Stiassi e Tantini members founded also A.S.C.A., acronym of Azienda Specializzata in Cancelleria ed Affini (meaning Company Specialized in Stationery and Related), and registered the company name The Scotland Pen Italiana with the Chamber of Commerce of Bologna, presumably by virtue of the strong anglophiles trends in the Italian market, which at the time saw many brands using english names. There are no know information about when production was effectively started, but it's generally assumed to be in the '20s.

The trademark registration was done in 1931 (Reg. Gen. N. 44193), and later there was a change in Scotland Italiana, registered in 1936/1937 (Reg. Gen. N. 54732), probably as the result of market trends changes due to the fight against anglophile trends and the exaltation of the Italian naming made by the fascist regime propaganda. The link with Tabo is anyway confirmed by the presence of a oversize model marked Scotland Italiana - Tabo Mod 1926.

The only other known document about the brand is a February 4, 1930 bill on behalf of the Armando Merighi company which depicts a fountain pen called The Scotland Self Filling Pen; the role of this company is not totally clear, but it was claiming to be the dealer for the italian distribution, and Merighi himself registered in the '40s the brand name Mercurio, often found on economic nibs.

The earlier fountain pen production by The Scotland was composed by safety models made both in simple black chased hard rubber or with metal overlays, these ones using laminated gold metal decorated with geometric engravings. There are no known specific names of these models than those previously cited in the bill that reports the following names: special, junior, 9I safetj, zigrinato tipo Waterman 40.

The first celluloid models are, as for many other Italian pens produced in the same period, Duofold imitations. To demonstrate the influence of anglophile names, these models were containing the inscriptions like The Scotland Pen and Self filling in two rows on the body, and gold nib was marked The Scotland Pen and Made in England, these were replaced in the '30s models by nibs marked Scotland Italiana and Made in Italy.

After these models followed, still from the '30s, new streamlined models fitted with the same type of clip and finishes of the previous Duofold imitations, but with tapered ends for cap and barrel. It seems, however, that there was an Omas role in the production of some later models, known as The Scotland Prisma, that are fairly evident imitation (and perhaps derived) from the Omas Extra. The production of The Scotland branded pens seems to have stopped with the advent of World War II.

A Tabo advertisement

The Tabo brand fountain pens production is rather late and goes back to the late '30s. The activities of Stiassi e Tantini results to be closed in 1939, but the two members founded the previous year a new company named "S.I.S.A.", acromym of Società Italiana Stilografiche e Affini (meaning Italian Company Fountain Pens and Related), that was remaned in 1940 (?) as "F.I.S.A.", acronym of Fabbrica Italiana Stilografiche e Affini (meaning Italian Factory Fountain Pens and Related) who was the company giving birth to the production of Tabo branded pens, another acronym used as an abbreviation for the term Tantini - Bologna. In later years the company name was changed again in Stiassi e Tantini S. A., wording that appears in the first Tabo pen advertising dating from the early '40s. The F.I.S.A. is however reported as a fountain pen company in the general industry directory of 1956.[2]

The Tabo series of late 30's were produced in different versions depending on the filling systems as there were button filler models, called Mentis, and depression filler models, similar to the Vacumatic, called Trasparente, as well as models with the more ordinary lever filler with a faceted body, similar to the Omas Extra, identified by the number 1931. Finally there were also safety models, made in hard rubber or with metal overlay, very similar to those found in the Montegrappa production, named with a four digits code number.

In addition to previous Tabo marked models, which were the first tier production that has nothing to envy in terms of quality compared to pens produced by the other major Italian manufacturers, the company also made second-tier fountain pens, at a lower price, using a series of sub-brands such as StyBy, Stibi, EsseTibi, S.T.B..

After World War II the company faced an increased competition by the impact of the molded plastic introduction in fountain pens production, whose circulation was rapidly increasing in Europe. All series were reviewed by using the piston filler, then was introduced the Vertex line, a covered nib pen (later replaced by Tabo V) and the two lines S and CO to indicate respectively the models with hooded nib and the models with metal cap, (CO is the acronym of Cappuccio Oro, meaning gold cap).

In 1948 Stiassi e Tantini was closed, but the Tantini family continued its activities for some time with P. Tantini & C Srl company. In Bologna a business under this name was opened, but the fountain pen production does not extend beyond the 50s. With the crisis resulting from the success of the disposable ballpoint pens the assets of the company was diversified in the business of ink, office supplies, and knickknacks, until the final failure occurred in 1972.

Chronology

Year Event
1919 the company is founded by Giuseppe Tantini, Giorgio Stiassi in Bologna
1919 the company future owners of Scotland and Tabo trademarks, is founded
1920 the company founds A.S.C.A. (Azienda Specializzata in Cancelleria ed Affini)
1920 Stiassi e Tantini register The Scotland Pen Italiana at the Chamber of Commerce of Bologna
1931 the company registers the The Scotland Pen Italiana trademark
1936 the company registers the new trademark Scotland Italiana
1939 Stiassi e Tantini become S.I.S.A. (Società Italiana Stilografiche e Affini) and starts usinig Tabo trademark
1940 S.I.S.A. (owner of Tabo trademark) become F.I.S.A. (Fabbrica Italiana Stilografiche e Affini) (approximate date[3])
1948 the company ceases operations

External references

  • none at the moment

Notes

  1. information about this brand were found mainly by the second volume of La storia della stilografica in Italia by Letizia Iacopini, and in the sources cited therein.
  2. as resulting from this extract.
  3. supposed few time after S.I.S.A. foundation