At some point in 1966 Legnano discontinued the alphanumeric serial numbers that were stamped on the seat lug (photo below) starting in 1939 and on the front of the head lugs going back to 1920. Perhaps the practice was tied to inventory control, accounting and tax law in Italy at the time? It gives me reason to ask an ‘oldtimer’ if the serial number was required to register a bicycle with the local authorities along with an annual fee as we do for motorcycles and cars.
Commencing in 1966/67 and through to approx. 1971-1972 the seat lug was stamped with two numbers (as shown in the photo above) that are shared by many Legnano bikes and different Legnano models as well. In the absence of factory records from the time, the thought was these two numbers represented the different production units in the factory and served as an early quality control and productivity measure. However Giancarlo Guglielmo of Italy brings forward a new hypothesis for the two digit numbers.
Giancarlo proposes that the first number represents the ‘quarter’ of the year the frame was produced. So the number 1 would be Jan-Mar, number 2 would be Apr-Jun, and so on. The second number is the laster number of the year. So a 7 would represent 1967, and a 0 would represent 1970, and so on. Base on this system, the Gran Premio frame in the header photo stamped 30 would have been produced in the 3rd quarter of 1970.
Substantiating this hypothesis should be fairly straight forward as only 1,2,3,& 4 would begin the first two-digit sequence . . . and only 7,8,9,0,1 and perhaps 2 would be found as the second number in the two digit sequence . . . starting with the first quarter of 1967 as 17, then 27, 37,47 and so on through to 11,12,13,14, and possibly through to 24 being the last quarter of 1972. Although I believe these two digit numbers did not go beyond 1973.
Having checked a very large number of Legnano bicycles in my photo archives I could not find an exception to Giancarlo’s hypothesis. The above photo of a Legnano Roma bears the number 26. It is the earliest two-digit frame number that I have on record. Following the logic this frame would have been produced in the 2nd quarter of 1966 and this holds true to this original and unaltered Roma.
What is new to my record keeping, this hypothesis would suggest that the Legnano alpha-numeric serials numbers were finished in the first quarter of 1966 and not at the end of 1966 as I previously thought. Some further checking showed the two digit production numbers were also used on Sportivo or city bike models.
Above is the last alpha-numeric serial number that is in my records. FS5203 stamped on the right side of the seat lug on a Mod.45 Sportivo Signora, a women’s city-style bike (all images can be found in the serial number listing). According to the hypothesis, this frame would have been produced in the first quarter of 1966.
Above is a Mod.50 Sportivo ‘Condorino’ belonging to Mario Erlotti that bears the number 39 on the right side of the seat lug. According to the logic this frame would have been produced in the 3rd quarter of 1969. Although the change in the Legnano downtube logo from the lozenge to the trapezoid shape is generally attributed to the start of the 1970 season, remembering that factory production would be readying in late 1969 for distribution at the start of the new year.
The last or latest two-digit production number in my records is 13 for for a Mod.54 Corsa suggesting a 3rd quarter production for 1971. Noting that I do not have a photo of the actual number on the frame and I am taking the word of the owner on that reference. From my records then, it would appear that the two-digit production numbers ran from the 2nd quarter of 1966 through to the 3rd quarter of 1971 and a little over 5 years in all. If anyone has a two-digit production number on their Legnano ending in 2 or later I would welcome a note and photo at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Although I will be doing a little further exploration of this hypothesis put forward by Giancarlo Guglielmo and his brother Riccardo, at this time I am quite positive in this translation of the two-digit production numbers. For readers that are interested, there is an Italian facebook page (link) that is discussing the matter and posting frame images to substantiate the hypothesis. So let’s raise a glass and a well-earned ‘grazie mille’ to Giancarlo and Riccardo on behalf of all Legnano enthusiasts for his contribution to the historical record.
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