The low down of Masi frame
dating by Brian Baylis.
A little background
information is in order so as to establish a referance for where the information
came from and how it is verified as fact. I will also go back as far as
1960 in describing the "dating traits" of the early Italian
My primary sources of information are three. Myself, who worked there
from Nov. 1973 to some time in early to mid 1974. I worked again at Masi
Carlsbad in 1976 until some time in 1977. I am familiar with the numbering
that was going on during both of those periods. The second source is Gian
Simonetti, who pretty much numbered all of the Masi frames built in Carlsbad
from start to finish. The only possible exception to that is the first
batch of frames ever built in Carlsbad (25-57cm frames) which would have
been struck by someone elses hand, probably Faliero himself, since Simonetti
was not hired until just after the first run was completed unless I'm
mistaken. He was hired about one week later than myself.The third source
is Masi painter Jim Allen who devised the second numbering system in 1978.
These are the referances I have used to gather this information; in addition
to handleing, restoring, and accessing hundreds of Masis over the past
30 years. I'm getting pretty familiar with them. I don't know everything
but I learn more practically every day.
Masis from the early 60's through about 1969 (specials) have no serial
number nor date. The only stamping is a "city code" so to speak
and a size (measured center of BB to tip of point on seat lug). So far
I have seen the following letters preceed the size on Masi specials:
M for Milano V for Verona B for Bergamo A for an unknown city at the moment
P for another unknown city AV I have seen once and appears to be a Verona
frame, don't know why the "A".
The introduction of the Gran Criterium in early 1970 signifies the end
of the Masi "Special" except for track frames. The Gran Criterium
has a month/ year stamped on the steerer of the fork. I believe the forks
were built in batches at the Vigorelli and the frames were built by the
sub-contract builders. When a batch of forks was built they were stamped
with the month and year and then sent to the plater. The stamp is under
the chrome so there will be some lead time between when the fork is built
and the time it comes back from the plater and is then matched up with
a frame and a color determined. The earliest date I've seen on a Gran
Criterium is 8.69. If this bike appeared in 1969 as a completed bike it
would have been at the very end of the year. For the most part, Italian
CG's are considered to be 1970 to 1973-'74. In Italy I think the GC gave
way to the Masi "Prestige" in about 1973 or early '74. The latest
date I've seen on an Italian GC is 6.73. That would be only a few months
befor the first CA Masis appeared in the US.
The First 25 Masi California
Carlsbad Masis never got a date on the fork. Instead, for the first time
Masis got individual serial numbers. The very first 25 frames, all 57cm,
were numbered with a system that expired right after the first batch.
The numbers were "1S XX". The 1 and "S" stood for
first series, then two numbers. I know where 1S19 is. They realized that
was too complicated so the next run was numbered in sequence until they
reached 100. The "MC" appears befor the size in MOST cases,
but sometimes they got reversed. The statement that there were 200 frames
unnumbered in the very beginning is false. I was there, even the very
first frames were numbered.
A "quirk" appears when they reach 100. Suddenly
the numbers add ONE zero and (or two in the case of numbers below 10)
and go from 001 to 099 if I'm not mistaken. I've seen several of these
frames but none numbered 001 to 009. Then the numbers pick up again at
200! Everything continues normally until 999. At 1000 another zero is
added. So frame number 0193 is frame 1093 built. That system remained
until the new system was devised in 1978.
The new system used a letter A,B,C, or D as a prefix. The letters denote
the quarters of the year. A is for Jan. thru Mar., etc. It has nothing
to do with who the builder was. The dating system does tell us when it
was built; those of us who were there know who was building the frames
at the time. The first two numbers are the year, of course. In your case
the C indicates July-Sept. 1978. The last two numbers indicate the frame
number built during that period. Simple. Your frame was built by Ted Kirkbride
in all likelyhood in the San Marcos workshop. Painted by Jim Allen if
it still has original paint. Mario Confente would most likely have built
the Masis there in San Marcos shortly after that had he lived (he passed
away in Apr. 1979). He had made an arrangement with Ted Kirkbride to become
part of the "co-op" that Ted was organizing in San Marcos and
would also have been building Confente frames there as well. It was all
arranged that Masis and Confentes were to be built there and painted by
Masi painter Jim Allen when he passed away. Painter Jim Allen was to meet
Mario to go pick up a granite alignment table the morning he passed away.
At some point the "MC" was replaced with the "SMC"
which does stand for San Marcos, CA. I think maybe around 1983 when Masi
moved into a new building in San Marcos.
Twin plate crown forks-
The twin plate crown isn't a real good indicator of age of a California
Masi. The serial number is a better gauge. The twin plate crowns are on
earlier as opposed to later frames as a rule; but there were extra forks
left around, I would imagine ones with real or real short steerers could
show up on a frame for a longer period than the more common sizes. Forks
were made in batches and probably 50 to 100 at a time so they could be
sent off to the plater. The crowns were in stock as well. I suppose if
someone wanted the twin plate crown in specific they would also have done
it for them. We can consider the majority of twin plate forks built in
Carlsbad to be made between late (probably Aug. or Sept.) 1973 to about
mid 1974. They were being used here and there for a while after that.
It seems that the Italian frames from 1972 couild have either the actual
twin plate crown or the sawcut type crown.
La Mesa, CA
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