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 Masis.

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 frames–
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.

Brian Baylis
La Mesa, CA

 

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