ITALIA


The Italia was Alf's answer to Masi, Cinelli, Colnago, Pogliaghi, and co., who exported a good number of racing frames to the USA in the 60s and 70s. The Italia model never appeared in any catalog, but several hundred were exported to the USA; Alf later claimed that his export trade to the USA had been significant in keeping the business afloat. There were two regular importers in Northern California, Spence Wolf in Cupertino and Roger Sands in Santa Cruz, who between them accounted for a couple of hundred Hetchins imports, many of them probably Italias.

The Hetchins Register lists Italias from 1954.

There are many minor variations of detail among Italias, as the fotos below show. Some were made in Britain. An unknown number were commissioned from an Italian builder; the Italo-Hetchins were finished by Hetchins and bore Hetchins transfers. Many were exported to the USA. To date, I have seen fotos of only one Italo-Hetchins; if others prove to be similar, the criteria for distinguishing them appear to be as follows:

British-made Italias may or may not have a transfer identifying them as such (see foto below); they will usually have a Reynolds transfer under the seat lug; British threads in the bottom bracket shell; frame numbers stamped onto one of the rear dropouts; some lugs slashed and seat lug usually scalloped, otherwise plain Prugnat lugs; sometimes, but not always, the characteristic tang on the seat lug &/or fork crown; the usual assortment of braze-ons and cable guides; the fork crown may be the double-plate or another style. They typically have straight pencil stays (round the whole way).

The only Italo-Hetchins I have seen to date has the following characteristics: Columbus transfer under the seat lug; ITA threads in the b/b shell; 4-digit frame number stamped under the b/b shell; indented straight chain stays; plain Prugnat lugs with no tangs, slashes, or scallops; no braze-ons or cable guides; sloping fork crown (Cinelli). The workmanship appears excellent.

In the mid 1990s, the Italia made a brief comeback; all were produced in the UK, including curlies.



The Italia was plain by Hetchin's standards, but a close look reveals Jack Denny's superb workmanship: thinly tapered Prugnat lugs and finely filed stay ends.

British-made Italias feature slightly modified Prugnat lugs: the seat lug in particular is often slashed and scalloped. There may or may not be a transfer identifying them as 'made in England'. Many but not all have Italianate type seat stays (integrated with the binder bolt); the Italianate type seat stays were offered on other models (such as Keyholes), not only Italias. Some Italianate stays have tangs, others do not. Many minor variations are known.







Italo-Hetchins


This Italian-made Italia features Prugnat lugs, Columbus tubing, sloping fork crown, and no tangs. The frame is very clean, the workmanship is excellent.
Fotos courtesy of the owner.

Note the complete lack of brazed-on guides and mounting bosses, and the typically Italian indented chain stays. ITA threads in the b/b. Italo-Hetchins have 4-digit frame numbers stamped under the b/b shell.

Clean and simple.

  

Italia variations

Italia (complete bike)



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