Well Hugh..you bought something very interesting there ! Do you remember that you beat me to the draw on that auction...we were both trying to be the one and only bidder in the dying seconds of the auction. In my case much as I thought the frame was an incredible bargain - the frame not having received a single bid and was still at its modest starting price - I decided not to bid for a couple of simple reasons (1) that the frame is too big for me and (2) I am trying to cut down on my Italian frame stocks.
It seems that this week is an interesting one for some of the Brit members of the List; you have discovered a mystery one-off (possibly) Cinelli and earlier in the week I discovered that one of my Hetchins does not appear to be anything but a mysterious one-off from the 1960s..
Regarding the grooved top tube it would be a very simple matter for the boffins at Cinelli to identify the origins of the Master shaped top-tube and realise that it was/is a tube from ORIA and not from Col;umbus. MASTER was the name given by Colnago to its Gilco-designed tubing with *four * grooves running along the length whereas the tubing with* FIVE such grooves* , as I am sure Hugh will confirm his Cinelli has, was an ORIA patented design called the *STAR* // *STELLA *series. As I recall this series saw the light of day at the MILAN Show in 1984 or 85 and was displayed on the SILVA stand - the firm who produced all those beautifully machined brake and chainstay bridges and braze-on parts.
At that time I negotiated to become the importer for the UK of SILVA parts and the ORIA STAR tube sets. Having been pressurised into buying a larger quantity than I initially wished - my middle name not being Rothschild - I was keen to sell some of the material into the frame-building trade. To that end I sent letters and catalogues out to about thirty UK-based builders, having formed a new small company for the purpose of marketing the parts and distributing them - the company was called *IFP - International Frame Parts. * I sent copies..and even a small poly bag of braze-ons, to your boss Kevin , Steve, but not to Jacko..but also to Briggs at Shipley. However Steve decided against buying into the brand. For an explanation of his reasons..phone me!
The company was short-lived . Having done all the hard graft and financial risk of introducing the ORIA/SILVA products to the UK market I was double-crossed by the Italian company. I remember meeting up with Italo Recanatini, Silva's sales director, Eddy Merckx (whose company also used SILVA parts) Bernard Hinault and Chas Roberts at the London Bike Show for what I thought would be a sales meeting. A few days later I learned that Recanatini had been around the Show the day before and had already cut himself a new deal with CEEWAY MARKETING, whose company had a stand at the Show. I could go on about legal action and treacherous Italians...possibly even the Mafia....The only positive about that meeting was the pleasure of going round the Show and discussing frames with Eddy who at one stage pointed to a Bob Jackson frame and voiced his concerns about a certain aspect of the construction. On the other hand he was impressed by a lugless Chas Roberts frame sprayed in pearl white and built up with the new Shimano SANTE groupset. I suppose that the other positives were learning that I am about the same size and build as Hinault, and the untrustworthy SILVA salesman introduced me to a new type shandy drink; instead of mixing bitter beer with lemonade, he suggested that I should try the Italian drink and use ginger beer instead of lemonade. That at least took some of the bitter taste of betrayal from my mouth.
I learned from Recanatini that the SILVA company employed ten staff who did nothing else but engrave frame parts for the Italian cycle industry and that it was the company that reprocessed the Columbus and ORIA tubes to produce the grooves. The other patented grooved tube was one with only three quite immense grooves produced for PALETTI or should that be PATELLI ? If anything, the ORIA tubing is slightly heavier gauge than the Columbus...possibly, even, plain gauge.
I still have just one set of ORIA Stella left in stock..its tubes already mitred for the special frame I promised myself some twenty-five years ago...and before my love affair with...and I took to riding... TVTs..but that's a different story altogether... and features the good old *Entente Cordiale..*between the French and their old enemy the Brits.
Settle UK ( Do I hear the Marseillais playing in the background)