03 January 2014

Un Volte, Un Pezzo Di Cartone E Solo Un Pezzo Di Cartone

The riders and collectors of vintage bikes and equipment seem to fall into two categories:  those who like scratches, patina and other signs of age, and those who want the "showroom" look.

Those who are in the latter category and take their obsession to an extreme need these:

If you think you're looking at two little oddly-shaped pieces of cardboard stamped with a classic Campagnolo logo, trust your perception.  Even if you do, though, you may not be able to believe what you read next:

Those two pieces of cardboard--which measure no more than about 15mm by 10mm each--are now selling for $6 USD.  If you want them, go to Boulder Bicycle

Now, of course, there are always people who will pay utterly insane amounts of money for the most mundane items if said items are emblazoned with logos the pre-eminent component maker in Italy (and, some would argue, the world) used while its founder, Tullio Campagnolo, was still alive.  I confess that I was one: I bought handlebar plugs and toe strap end buttons that cost twice as much as they would have without the Campy logo.  I thought they were "musts" for my Campagnolo-equipped Italian bikes.

However, the items you see in the photo were not, to my knowledge, made or sold by anyone else.  In fact, they weren't sold by anybody, at least not a la carte:  They came with new sets of Nuovo and Super Record, and Gran Sport, brakes from the mid-1960's,when Campagnolo first introduced their brakes, to the mid-1980's, after Tullio died and Campy discontinued their old NR, SR and GS gruppos.
The pieces of cardboard you see in the photo were used as packing material.  They were intended for removal after the brakes were installed on the bike, but manufacturers and dealers often left them on.  They didn't impede the function, as they fit over the acorn nuts on the outside of the brake mechanism.  As Boulder Bicycle points out, leaving them on gave the impression that the brakes were "factory fresh". 

I guess if you're trying to evoke or recall the feeling of seeing the brand-new, Campy-equipped, Colnago or Cinelli you saw for the first time (and despaired of affording) in your youth, six bucks is a bargain.

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