Three articles on TSC a british fermodel magazine
(written by Mariofranco Mazzilli)
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 Maerklin trains.
Conti was the Italian competitor of Maerklin 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 55.000 pieces (locos were numbered
under the base with a paper label
or with a punch)
were produced from 1947 to the first years of the ’60s……..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 or the rarest in blue, the purple pullman, the blue restaurant and the blue wagon lit.
Like the locomotive all these coaches were produced with working lights or not, a part baggages which were not ligthy.
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 gold and green.