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Probably no business reality in nascent and united Italy managed to bound its image so indissolubly with the productive sector in which it operated, as Cartiere Paolo Pigna located in Alzano Lombardo, in Bergamo province, did.

Before the birth of advertisement and before the beginning of modern forms of advertising, Pigna’s exercise books managed to enter in generations of students’ imagination, becoming much more than a simple support to educational activities and to school furnishing. Pigna’s exercise books, with their different sizes and the illustrated and colourful covers, have represented and continue to represent an almost essential object in everyday life of pupils, students and workers.

Seems appropriate to underline how Cartiere Paolo Pigna, since the beginning, has linked its name to the industrial context of Seriana Valley in Bergamo, giving work and prosperity to the area.

The origins date back to 1675, but Cartiere Paolo Pigna’s recent history begins in 1839, precisely 30th April, the day on which it is founded, by private writing, a company for the paper manufacturing between Mr Tomaso Pastori and engineer Paolo Pigna (Varese 1802 - Milan 1888), as collective members, and the Company Turati e Radice, general partner. This is certified by the Act drafted by notary dr. Luigi Clerici of Milan, 22nd June 1841, register n. 820, inventory n. 5235, filed in the State Archives in Milan, attesting the creation of G. Maglia e C. Company, with a factory in Vaprio D'Adda. Further documentation has been recovered in the Historical Archives of the Chamber of Commerce of Milan: in particular it is the notification act of the new Company at the Chamber of Commerce of Milan dated 26th June 1841. Between 1866 and 1868 the aforementioned Company G. Maglia Pigna e C. is dissolved and put in liquidation, as stated in the notarial acts of 15th June 1867 n. repertoire 114/57 signed by notary dr. Vespasiano Pavesi, of Borghetto Lodigiano and 19th May 1868 by notary dr. G.B. Bolgeri of Milan, n.6186/2281 and n. 6187/2282. On the same date 19th May 1868, engineer Paolo Pigna draws up a letter declaring completed the liquidation of G. Maglia Paglia e C., assuming the remaining assets and liabilities. Another letter of the same date and signed by eng. Paolo Pigna, declares the continuation by himself, the same line of business in the factory in Alzano, become of his exclusive property. This document was probably sent to various customers and suppliers, so that they continue to honour him with orders and trust.
In this period engineer Paolo Pigna takes over three pre-existing small paper mills: Ghisalberti, Milesi and Sonzogni, located in Alzano Maggiore, in the province of Bergamo. Many history books report that these paper mills had arisen at the beginning of 19th century, on the remains of the ancient Stefanini paper mill, already active in the second half of 17th century, as demonstrated by an ancient tombstone. After having restored the buildings, the production of paper, using rags, begins. In year 1870 with business name Paolo Pigna and registered office in Milan, the distinguishing feature that the founder wants to impart to his company is already evident: qualitative excellence. This goal is achieved through the use of technologically advanced machineries and the formation of an increasingly numerous workforce motivated to pursue the optimization in new productions. Paolo Pigna himself, in year 1872, expressed to the Industrial Inquiry Committee as follows: "There are others, but produce just ordinary paper, while I produce also fine papers, for registers, regular and thin letter paper, telegraph rolls, coloured, marbled papers". 1st April 1883, engineer Paolo Pigna gives the company "Paolo Pigna", with headquarters in Milan in via Fieno n.3, to his son Carillo Pigna, general partner, and to engineer Giuseppe Boschi, Luigi Sartirana and accountant Carlo Conti, as per act of notary Luigi Morandi of Milan, repertoire n. 10782. The new partners establish a new company, registered in the Chamber of Commerce with a registered capital of £200.000 and its peculiarity is the fact that all the three partners will sign in the name Paolo Pigna. From the yearbook of Typographic-Book Publishing Association of Milan, dated 15th October 1883, Cartiere Pigna results active, operative and well known.
From the act 5053 in February 1895 of notary dr. Giovanni Dolci of Bergamo, it appears that at Carillo Pigna’s death, which took place 17th November 1894, Gentlemen Conti, Sartirana and Boschi cease to be general partners, letting the company to be continued by Carillo Pigna’s heirs, Barbara Pellicioli and Giuseppina Pigna, respectively wife and only daughter, according to his testament. The two heirs decide to join other partners in the company, who at the notarial act result to be: Daniele Pesenti, Augusto Pesenti, Fisico Pietro Pesenti, Carlo Pesenti, Luigi Pesenti, Cesare Pesenti, all born and domiciled in Alzano Maggiore. The new company so constituted continues its activity under the name "Paolo Pigna" and appears in the Register of Notifications of Traders and Shopkeepers Arts and Trade of the City and Province of Bergamo in date 26 March 1895; the register has been found in the State Archives – Historical Archives of the Chamber of Commerce of Bergamo, under registration number 3943. in year 1919 the company is transformed from a simple limited partnership to a limited company, with the name Cartiere Paolo Pigna S.A. and the headquarters moved to Alzano Maggiore. While the administrative headquarters remain in Milan. Unlike other companies in the sector, which at the beginning of 20th century substantially maintain the same characteristics and dimensions, Pigna’s production doubles, rising from 600,000 to 1,200,000 quintals of processed paper, mainly thanks to the mechanization and progressive enlargement of the structure in the Bergamo area. This has significantly affected the social-economic development of neighbouring countries in Seriana Valley, and in the city of Bergamo.
In the twenties the heirs of Pigna’s dynasty give life to a complete production cycle, introducing with great foresight the stationery production, which was in addition to simple paper, maintaining excellence quality standards. The paper mill in Alzano is rewarded since the first years of activity with many certificates and awards, obtained both at national and international level, such as degrees and medals at fairs and exhibitions, and this makes Cartiere Paolo Pigna more and more famous and appreciated all over the world. Unlike competitors, Cartiere Paolo Pigna was the first company to believe that cover illustrations and the iconic message vehicled by exercise books need a special care. Covers could not be overlooked and had to be appealing and attractive, keeping up-to-date and in line with the times, evolving together with the changes in society, habits and people testes. During Italy’s fascist period the company located in Alzano becomes a national reference point for school exercise books production, thanks to the provision of an effective distribution and sales network, able to satisfy the stationery shops all over the national territory: in that period the unmistakable mark of the eagle with spread wings gains the prestige and reliability that are appreciated even today. The first Pigna’s stationery products exports took place in year 1928 in Egypt and Argentina. After the fall of Fascism and the advent of democracy in Italy, Cartiere Pigna must radically reorganize its editorial strategies and redefine its own commercial policy, using new subjects for the covers. A long, complex process, characterized by many difficulties, especially during the first post-war years, when it was very difficult to recover raw materials. Anyway the company manages to continue its production activity, and even conquer new market shares, expanding its action range, using neutral subjects for the covers, such as Italian monuments and landscapes, as well as diversifying productions and enriching them with other products for school, office, home. The image of a strictly educated childhood and youth, object of a political design, wanes, in the fifties, in a context now characterized by the prevalence of market logics and consumer-related dynamics, Cartiere Paolo Pigna’s editorial strategy is to go along with youth’s tastes, that are inspired by the American dream and the cinema’s myths: so a private and individual dimension returns on the covers.
During the last years, thanks to the high quality of its productions, the company managed to expand both on national and international territory, also thanks to the opening of many branches abroad, and has been appreciated in various international markets (we quote Romania, Spain, Russia, France). Constant innovation, the development of advanced products with higher quality than the competitors’ ones have allowed Cartiere Paolo Pigna to reach the European leadership in stationery sector. The constant technological and quality progress, certified Cartiere Paolo Pigna to ISO:9001 standard. In addition its particular attention to environment allowed to achieve the ISO:14001 certificate, in addition to the PEFC and FSC conservation chain. Cartiere Paolo Pigna can boast the fact that entire generations have written, dreamed and studied at school and at work on Pigna’s products.





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