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1953: The Quercetti Pegs

1953: The Quercetti Pegs

It was 1953 when Alessandro Quercetti made this idea his own. Alessandro immediately understood the great potential of this game and when he came to know about it, having been made aware, by his best trade agent, Borghesio, that the Italian firm importing Coloredo had failed, he wasted no time in demanding exclusive distribution throughout Italy. Thus Alessandro payed for the expenses needed to patent the peg game in Italy, and in order to have the logo of the Quercetti factory designed, preferred to the Hopla logo from that moment on. The author of the fortunate brand, still in use today, was an equal in age, Aldo Novarese (Pontestura 1920 - Turin 1995), one of the greatest Italian type designers, but also a photographer, painter, and illustrator, who at the time was working as a collaborator with Alessandro Butti at the Fonderia Caratteri Nebiolo di Torino, and who was to become renowned for a long series of fonts which made the history of Italian typography, such as the Stop font. It is also believed that he may have been the illustrator of some of the box versions for the Cavallo Galoppa and Sulky. It should be noted, however, that the final version of the logo, which has the words framed by a rectangle with rounded corners, was not registered at the Patent and Trademark Office until 19th June 1962.

During the initial period he simply sold the French line of products in Italy with boxing and instructions in Italian and the Quercetti logo. He then started applying a series of improvements to the production and usage of materials. In the second half of the decade, the first element produced in plastic is the peg, which has its particular mushroom-shaped appearance, with a semi-spherical head and a square-section base.

The next step was to mass-produce the pierced board at competitive costs. The time span between the series became smaller, and the Italian editions, made by Quercetti, introduced a peg of improved quality and slightly larger size (10mm-diameter head as opposed to 9mm) and starting in 1961, there started to be a greater distance with the French products, not only due to the logo, but also thanks to the more modern graphics and two other important innovations.

The first concerned the pierced board, which became available in a new large format, 163x221 mm and 900 holes, which for the first time had a small bump inside the holes, to generate friction and stop the pegs from being thrown out involuntarily.

The second innovation regarded the broadening of the range of products on offer, achieved by introducing various sizes for peg-head diameters (5, 10, 15, 20 mm) abandoning the square-section body, in favour of a more functional cylindrical stem. Also, the head of the peg was now formed by a dome which was hollow on the inside, and therefore lighter and cheaper to produce.

These modifications changed the approach to the composition of images, as they implied a greater or lesser amount of detail and ease of resolution, on the basis of the peg diameters used, and not just due to the amount of materials used, as it had been thus far. Success came as a wave, on the markets worldwide. The shape of the pegs was continuously refined until it stabilized in the unmistakable profile it still has now, ergonomically researched to make it easier for children to get a grip on. The available colours, shapes, and the formats of the boards, pegs increased more and more, and the use of a new type of packaging with a frame-box leaving the product open and completely visible, all contributed towards making Quercetti a leading company worldwide.

In 1984 the owners of the brand “Coloredo” unexpectedly decided to sell it to a French company in the market sector, Jeu Nathan, without notifying the Turin firm beforehand. Strangely enough, for some time they released actual re-editions of the old Coloredo with the boxes with the same vintage illustrations and the same matchsticks made in wood and sealing wax. This was in actual fact a nostalgic operation which did not end up having much success and fizzled out in a short time. Quercetti decided to change the name of the famous pegs, which from then on would be known as Fantacolor. Thus, the story which had begun 30 years earlier went on to last another 30 and give life to new ideas, images, colours, fantasies, making Quercetti the main name behind the peg-based toy. Today, the line of QUercetti Fantacolor Pegs gives children a world of colour made of pegs to stimulate one’s imagination. The infinite possibilities of combinations favour creativity by favouring the expressive needs of the child and encouraging independent thought.