> What other countries had the equivalent of "Hetchins" or "Carlton
> International" with such overblown lugwork? I'm not saying that
> overblown lugwork is something to be proud of, but diversity of
> offerings is what makes life interesting ...
Take a look at Jay Van de Velde's 1936 Gloria and its lily ('gigli' in Italian) lug decorations and you will realize that Hetchins et al were latecomers to the game of 'ornate' lugs. These things were around in Italy, France and elsewhere before the period that most CR listmembers are aware of. There is absolutely nothing in the origins of the ornate lugs that screams 'British'. I would however agree that the British were the ones that took it to its gaudiest extremes, but as you say: "I'm not saying that is something to be proud of..."
> I think that, in Italy, Campagnolo and Cinelli were actually too
> dominant, and so most of the Italian bikes mostly had parts from these
> two makers, and nothing else. After a while you get bored with Campy,
> and want to ride Stronglight, TA, GB, Brooks, Philippe, Simplex,
> Suntour, Weinmann, Mavic, AVA, etc. etc. etc.
This comment shows a poor grasp of the true cycling world in Italy. Cinelli has produced less bikes since its inception in the 40's than did Raleigh, Bianchi, Schwinn, Trek, Batavus, Peugeot... in most single years. In fact the average year saw less than 1000 Cinelli bikes being made. As a comparison, Colnago now makes over 20 thousand per year... Campagnolo now only produces one tenth that of Shimano and probably produced a similar percentage of what Simplex produced back in the boom years. Campagnolo also did not have the Italian market to itself, it had to compete very hard with other Italian and foreign companies. Think about: Gipiemme, Ofmega, Magistroni, Universal, Agrati, Balilla, Gian Robert, Simplex Italia, Vittoria, Way Asauto, Sheffield, Modolo... and the list goes on. I have many full Italian bikes without a single Campagnolo part on them. The American market was likely among the most conformist in the world. Lastly, as for Campagnolo-equipped bikes becoming boring, you should go for a ride on a 1930's Cambio corsa geared bike, then a 1940's Paris Roubaix geared bike, then a 1950's Gran Sport geared bike, then a 1960's Valentino geared bike, a 1970's Super Record geared bike, a 1980's C-Record geared bike with Syncro and finally a 1990's Record geared bike. If you can get bored doing this, I would like to have some of the mushrooms growing in your lawn. I would dare say that you would be hard-pressed to get a more wide-ranging riding experience even if you were to mix and match different parts manufacturers.