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1910: Pirelli on display in Brussels and Buenos Aires

The Paris Expo in 1900 and the one in St Louis in 1904 were followed by one in Liège, Belgium, in 1905. Italy took part only on the sidelines, however, and Pirelli did not show up. Towards the end of 1906, a new exhibition was announced for 1910, again in Belgium, but this time in Brussels. The National Committee for Italian Exports and Exhibitions immediately started preparing for Italy’s official participation in the event, and its work was endorsed by law on 10 June 1909. In the autumn of that year, however, another international exhibition was announced. The expo was to be held in the city of Buenos Aires, starting in the spring of 1910, to celebrate the centenary of the Argentine Republic. The National Committee signed up to it, for it could see the political and commercial benefits of having Italian producers take part in the event in South America. Having two expos at the same time caused many logistical headaches, particularly in the “cars and cycles” section at the Brussels Expo, where initial registrations would have been enough to cover an area of over 1,000 square metres. However, when the Buenos Aires event was announced, all the exhibitors opted to take part in it. It was only with great difficulty that it was possible to ensure the participation of a few firms in Brussels. These included Pirelli, which showed its tyres, accessories for cars and bicycles, and sportswear in waterproof fabric, in the “international gallery” of the Italian section reserved for motoring, cycling and sports items. Its activities in the cable sector were illustrated with a display of 14 photographs that showed the electrical substation in the factory and the one on board the Città di Milano cable-laying ship, the laying of electricity cables beneath the Nile, and the Ontario Power Co. plant in Niagara. The display also included views of the main factories (in Milan, La Spezia, Villanueva y la Geltrù in Spain and the new plant in Greco Milanese – which is that of Bicocca), and the photograph of workers leaving the factory in Milan taken by Luca Comerio.

The Buenos Aires Expo opened in May, with sections devoted to “Railways and Land Transport”, “Fine Arts”, “Agriculture”, and “Hygiene and Medicine”. Pirelli had been exporting to Argentina for over twenty years and in 1910 it opened a branch office, which it entrusted to its agent, the Alvaro Company. It naturally viewed the Expo with great interest. Alberto Pirelli wrote to the agent on 16 August 1909, saying: “Of all the Italian companies that can take part in an event devoted to means of transport – including the transport of electricity – we are one of those that exports the most to South America, we are in a position to compete in almost every sector, and we are willing to participate in a serious manner.” Pirelli managed to secure a  stand in an excellent position in the Italian Pavilion. Two areas were reserved for the company on the right and left of the central corridor, opposite the main entrance of the pavilion. The show included tyres, cables and technical items in rubber, the model of the Città di Milano cable-laying ship, which had been shown at the 1900 Paris Expo, and the photographs and factory views that had been displayed in Brussels. 10,000 brochures on the Peking to Paris race were sent to Buenos Aires (the winning car was on show at the Itala stand), as were 20,000 brochures with views of the company’s factories, to be handed out to the public. A film made on the suggestion of and by the National Committee for Exhibitions was screened at the Expo cinema, with the aim, as we read in a letter dated 22 April 1910, of “using projections and cinematographic spectacles to show other countries both the natural and artistic beauty of Italy, and the industrial development of our country”. A 50-metre film showed workers leaving the factory in Milan. Furthermore, thanks to its partnerships with car manufacturers, Pirelli ensured that all Italian cars and bicycles at the exhibition were fitted with Pirelli tyres.

1910 brought superb results for Pirelli abroad, as well as important awards, which were given both in Brussels – where the company won two Grand Prix diplomas and a bronze medal – and in Buenos Aires, where it obtained three Grand Prix diplomas, four honorary diplomas and two Gold Medal diplomas. Its success was by now widely acknowledged around the world.

The Paris Expo in 1900 and the one in St Louis in 1904 were followed by one in Liège, Belgium, in 1905. Italy took part only on the sidelines, however, and Pirelli did not show up. Towards the end of 1906, a new exhibition was announced for 1910, again in Belgium, but this time in Brussels. The National Committee for Italian Exports and Exhibitions immediately started preparing for Italy’s official participation in the event, and its work was endorsed by law on 10 June 1909. In the autumn of that year, however, another international exhibition was announced. The expo was to be held in the city of Buenos Aires, starting in the spring of 1910, to celebrate the centenary of the Argentine Republic. The National Committee signed up to it, for it could see the political and commercial benefits of having Italian producers take part in the event in South America. Having two expos at the same time caused many logistical headaches, particularly in the “cars and cycles” section at the Brussels Expo, where initial registrations would have been enough to cover an area of over 1,000 square metres. However, when the Buenos Aires event was announced, all the exhibitors opted to take part in it. It was only with great difficulty that it was possible to ensure the participation of a few firms in Brussels. These included Pirelli, which showed its tyres, accessories for cars and bicycles, and sportswear in waterproof fabric, in the “international gallery” of the Italian section reserved for motoring, cycling and sports items. Its activities in the cable sector were illustrated with a display of 14 photographs that showed the electrical substation in the factory and the one on board the Città di Milano cable-laying ship, the laying of electricity cables beneath the Nile, and the Ontario Power Co. plant in Niagara. The display also included views of the main factories (in Milan, La Spezia, Villanueva y la Geltrù in Spain and the new plant in Greco Milanese – which is that of Bicocca), and the photograph of workers leaving the factory in Milan taken by Luca Comerio.

The Buenos Aires Expo opened in May, with sections devoted to “Railways and Land Transport”, “Fine Arts”, “Agriculture”, and “Hygiene and Medicine”. Pirelli had been exporting to Argentina for over twenty years and in 1910 it opened a branch office, which it entrusted to its agent, the Alvaro Company. It naturally viewed the Expo with great interest. Alberto Pirelli wrote to the agent on 16 August 1909, saying: “Of all the Italian companies that can take part in an event devoted to means of transport – including the transport of electricity – we are one of those that exports the most to South America, we are in a position to compete in almost every sector, and we are willing to participate in a serious manner.” Pirelli managed to secure a  stand in an excellent position in the Italian Pavilion. Two areas were reserved for the company on the right and left of the central corridor, opposite the main entrance of the pavilion. The show included tyres, cables and technical items in rubber, the model of the Città di Milano cable-laying ship, which had been shown at the 1900 Paris Expo, and the photographs and factory views that had been displayed in Brussels. 10,000 brochures on the Peking to Paris race were sent to Buenos Aires (the winning car was on show at the Itala stand), as were 20,000 brochures with views of the company’s factories, to be handed out to the public. A film made on the suggestion of and by the National Committee for Exhibitions was screened at the Expo cinema, with the aim, as we read in a letter dated 22 April 1910, of “using projections and cinematographic spectacles to show other countries both the natural and artistic beauty of Italy, and the industrial development of our country”. A 50-metre film showed workers leaving the factory in Milan. Furthermore, thanks to its partnerships with car manufacturers, Pirelli ensured that all Italian cars and bicycles at the exhibition were fitted with Pirelli tyres.

1910 brought superb results for Pirelli abroad, as well as important awards, which were given both in Brussels – where the company won two Grand Prix diplomas and a bronze medal – and in Buenos Aires, where it obtained three Grand Prix diplomas, four honorary diplomas and two Gold Medal diplomas. Its success was by now widely acknowledged around the world.

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