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In Sassuolo, a favourite resort of the Duchy of Modena, numerous workshops spring up, all located along the road known as Contrada del Borgo. These establishments procure their materials from the neighbouring hills and exploit the water power of the Modena canal.
Some members of the Sassuolo bourgeoisie, guided by Gio’ Andrea Ferrari, found a joint stock company to produce majolica, a material that was much appreciated at the time for tableware. The company obtain exclusive manufacturing rights for a period of ten years.
The company is taken over by Giovanni Maria Dallari, who obtains from the Duke of Modena a monopoly down to the third generation and the possibility of placing the ducal coat of arm on the factory. In order to steal a march on competitors, Dallari invests in the highest quality materials, innovative production techniques and hires skilled workers from Lodi, Faenza, Imola, Livorno and Pesaro.
Giovanni Maria Dallari passes on the running of the factory to his son, Giovanni. If the introduction of earthenware, which is cheaper than majolica, significantly reduces prices, new technologies enables output to be doubled. The new duke, Ercole III d’Este, was hostile to the Sassuolo factory but abolished protective tariffs on majolica products: the imports of competitors into the dukedom bring Dallari and Contrada del Borgo to its knees!
The brothers Onorio and Costanzo Dallari inherit a factory that is crippled by debt. Many workers in the industry as registered in the parish records as “INDIGENT”. The crisis forces the Dallaris to resort to temporary sales, subletting and loans.
Count Giovanni Francesco Ferrari Moreni purchases the now bankrupt company: a shrewd manager, he decides to concentrate on earthenware. The quality of the glazes used make the products is widely appreciated locally and leads to a major recovery.
The factory is taken over by Giovanni Maria Rubbiani, who involves his sons, Don Antonio and Carlo, educated progressives who are convinced of the importance of modernizing transport, investing in advertising and in the professional training of their craftsmen. In the period in which Italy becomes one country, Sassuolo ceramics win prestigious awards.
Carlo Rubbiani takes over the company and has to pit himself against the artistic and technical excellence of his competitors that has been widely publicized in national and international exhibitions. His entrepreneurial spirit leads him to bank on new products. In addition to the plates for the new numbering of buildings, streets and piazzas, Rubbiani is the first person in Italy to manufacture dry-pressed tiles to meet the new requirements for hygiene, durability, rationality and cleanliness required by the first national regulations governing commercial businesses, public buildings and workplaces. Tiles, especially wall tiles, soon become a solution that is also appreciated for dwellings.
Carlo hands over the company to his sons, Ugo, Vito and Giovanni, who decide to concentrate exclusively on tile production and investing in new decorating technologies, that are also suitable for larger and more elaborate wall cladding.
The Rubbiani heritage is transferred to the new company “S.a.S Carlo Rubbiani, di Rubbiani, Olivari & C”. The closure of the German market during the First World War greatly complicates the procurement of coal and mineral products. After the war, reconstruction and commercial expansion to South America and the African colonies boost production but the backwardness of local transport impacts the price of tiles.
The factory becomes “Societa’ Anonima Ceramica Di Sassuolo”. Although the Slump after 1929 hits the ceramics sector hard, the limited liability company guided by Matteo Olivari manages to increase production and its workforce. However, the unexpected death of Olivari in 1932 leads to a change of the company name and to the company being wound up.
“Società Anonima Ceramiche Marca Corona” is founded. Right from the start, it has to cope with the lack of combustible material due to the Fascist regime’s autarchy policy. When war broke out, women had to take the place in the factories of the men who had been sent off to war: the destiny of Marca Corona was in the hands of 143 tireless women. The crisis reaches its peak in 1942 with the ban on the manufacture of glass and ceramics and the subsequent air raids on Sassuolo: the Marca Corona facility was seriously damaged.
The factory is moved outside the town centre to enable the plants to expand, reduce heavy truck traffic in the town and to give a concrete response to the environmental question.
Marca Corona joins Gruppo Concorde, which is today Europe’s largest wholly Italian ceramics group. Thanks to its financial and strategic support, Marca Corona is able to concentrate even more on research into styles, technological innovation and commercial internationalization.
Marca Corona decides to support local bodies in an ambitious project of industrial refurbishment and urban renewal in Sassuolo. The facility’s largest chimney, which was built in the 1930s, becomes a fine example of “industrial archaeology” for the town.
Marca Corona becomes a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, the American organization that assesses the sustainability of buildings that has introduced a voluntary environmental certification system known as LEED that now exists in over 50 countries.
In order to be more present in North American markets, Marca Corona USA is set up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Marca Corona repositions itself by modernizing manufacturing plant, restyling the company brand and image, building new offices and a large showroom.
The Galleria Marca Corona is opened. This is the company museum that is home to the valuable exhibits of the "Museo della Fabbrica Rubbiani” museum, the genetic heritage of the company and of the entire district: Galleria Marca Corona is dedicated to the late Chairman of the Concorde Group, Professor Cirillo Mussini, and traces the evolutionary stages of Marca Corona from 1741 until today.
Today, Marca Corona continues its path of growth and innovation, with a niche at the top of the market with products for homes, commercial premises and hotels and restaurants. Owing to the massive investments in productive technologies, constant attention to the latest design trends and constant respect for the environment and people, Marca Corona is now renowned throughout the world as the representative par excellence of Italian ceramics.
Since 1741, the Marca Corona story has accompanied the evolution of the Sassuolo district, the cradle of Italian ceramic excellence. The company has taken all the social, economic and fashion changes in its stride, transforming itself into a solid company that is closely connected to tradition and the area but which is geared to the future and the world.
Today, as then, passion, professionalism and evolutionary tension have made it a company that is out of the ordinary, that is able to inaugurate new style trends owing to cutting-edge aesthetic and technological technologies.
Founded way back in 1741, Marca Corona is the oldest ceramics company in the Sassuolo district.
The long and fascinating story of Marca Corona is told inside the Galleria Marca Corona.