FRASCAROLO e C.
In 1948 Pierino Frascarolo, known as Rino (1928-1976), Aldo Lenti (1910-1982) and Daniele Valiera (1912-1978) created the company "Frascarolo e C.", initially located in Vicolo Del Pero, 14 and shortly after in Viale Matteotti, 49. The granted legal trademark was "347 AL".
The three founders, who had met working together at the Lunati company, were different in age and professional training. The young Frascarolo was born in Milan to a wealthy family, originally from San Salvatore. He migrated as a displaced person during the War, and had been a partisan of Giustizia e Libertà together with his future brother-in-law Ezio Deambrogi, and finally became a goldsmith's apprentice in 1945. The two more mature members were instead already experienced goldsmiths: Lenti, who was an excellent goldsmith and chiseller, had emigrated with his family to Argentina as a child in 1914 and had returned in 1924 to be trained by his uncle Paolo. Valiera stayed a few years in the company, and finally retired in 1952. Under the new management, Frascarolo took care of business relations, while Lenti took care of production. In a short time Frascarolo e C. reached about twenty employees, engaged primarily in the manufacture of brooches and rings, sometimes of high cost, mainly made of gold and to a lesser extent of platinum. Around 1954 they started a commercial relationship with the Milanese goldsmith Sandro Basini, supplier of objects in mountings, in particular bracelets.
Between 1959 and 1960 Maurizio Spriano, formerly a "Fratelli Robotti" goldsmith, introduced the French-style platinum wire griffe, although he almost immediately abandoned his working position to set up his own business. The company, however, concentrated in that period in platinum jewelry,both made in-house and purchased from the company "Carnevale Arno e Giovanni". Also the collaboration of the famous Roman designer Aurelio Balistreri was recorded in these years. Since the end of the fifties, increased exposure to international markets did not find this company unprepared, as they found an opportunity for further expansion - especially in North America. Since 1966, the company had specialized in animal-shaped items, a theme that was already partly present in Frascarolo's production, enriched with consolidated suggestions coming from the popular imagination of cartoons and exotic and adventure literature. This collection, known as "Bestiario" or "Ferocious Bestiary", was a huge success, especially in the United States. The animals were represented according to an aesthetic of harmless tenderness or dramatic aggressiveness, ranging from birds to small mammals to large felines. Between 1966 and 1971 all possible objects were gradually created around this subject: brooches, rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, buckles, money clips, tie clips, key rings, cufflinks and pillboxes, watches, lighters, lipsticks, and even umbrella handles. The models were made in silver by the artist Renzo Basini, a brother of Sandro, who lived in Nice. He supplied for each model a prototype in silver together with the relative rubber moulds, from which the models would then be made in gold, enamels and precious stones.
To meet the large demand, the employees were practically doubled, exceeding forty units. In 1970 a company was also opened in New York, called Frascarolo & Co. Inc., with partners Frascarolo and Adriano Gugliata, a San Salvatore emigrant who had been there for many years. In the same period the goldsmith Augusto Iberti, another figure originally from San Salvatore who had worked in the United States, joined the company and introduced the innovative process of lost-wax casting of platinum. Rino Frascarolo was at that time an active promoter of his own merchandise, even among the most distinguished and renowned personalities of those years, who eventually became customers, friends and collectors of the "Bestiario". He also participated in international auctions to buy the most important gems, to be used for the highest level of jewelry, such as for the platinum pendant called "Sole" - carrying a diamond of more than forty carats.
However, at such a seemingly flourishing moment, the company fell apart, first with the loss of historical employees such as the Tizzani brothers, then with the exit from the company of Aldo Lenti. In 1972 Antonio Pietrolucci, a recently hired goldsmith from Rome, took over the management of the company for a few months. Finally the "Frascarolo Rino" was born. This was the last name of the company, downsized in the number of employees, and was active until the tragic death of its founder in 1976.
The Frascarolo e C. fund currently consists of the materials collected in 1976 by Ezio Deambrogi, brother of Rino Frascarolo's wife. In fact, Deambrogi took care of the cessation of the company, preserved its memory and also protected the intellectual property of the models produced. For some years the fund has been deposited in a not permanent deposit at the Documentation Center on Goldsmithery of For.Al in Valenza. Drawings and objects were exhibited first at For.Al, in 2005, and then at the Petit Palais in Paris, in 2010. During these exhibition events, a wide space was attributed to the famous "ferocious beast". In 2014, upon the death of Ezio Deambrogi, the materials were collected from his daughter.
The following series can thus be identified:
- 5 factory registers, circa 1950 - 1976
- Jewelry designs (not referred to the "Bestiary")
- Silver prototypes of the "Bestiary ferocious" line models
- Assembly parts
Lia Lenti, Gioielli e gioiellieri di Valenza. Arte e storia 1825-1975, Allemandi, Torino, 1994. Specific item on pp. 411-412; tables LXXI-LXXIII; images 254, 690, 768, 769, 798, 810, 811.
Maria Cristina Bergesio, Maria Carla Manenti, Lia Lenti, Il bestiario prezioso di Frascarolo & C., For.Al, Valenza, 2005, n. 1 of For. Al's quaderni, published on the occasion of the relative exhibition. It contains essays on animal-themed jewelry, on the history of the company starting from the testimony of the factory registers and on the international commercial location of the jewelry produced by Frascarolo e C.
Lia Lenti, Valenza ou la joaillerie italienne, Nuvole, Sardigliano, 2010. Catalog of the exhibition at the Petit Palais in Paris, 8-28 February 2010. It contains an essay by Lia Lenti dedicated to Frascarolo and his Bestiary (pp. 26 - 33) and images of drawings, prototypes and finished products (pp. 34-99).
Lia Lenti and Maria Cristina Bergesio, Dizionario del gioiello italiano del XIX e XX secolo, Allemandi, Turin, 2005. Specific entry on pp. 113-114, plus two images.
Frascarolo e C. (1948-1971)
Pietrolucci (gennaio-novembre 1972)
Frascarolo Rino (novembre 1972-1976)
viale Matteotti n.49, Valenza (AL)