This is easily Ducati.net's rarest treasure. Found in the USA, this is the earliest piece known to exist on the Ducati historic map, it predates "the first order" which secured Ducati's future as a company by 3 weeks. I'd like to include in this gallery a bit of Ducati family history, mainly because it's really interesting and also because the ironly of who Adriano Cavalieri Ducati was, what he personally achieved and what he ultimately is remembered for, will, I am certain, surprise you. More on that later.
Ducati, the company began on July 4th, 1926 as Scientific Society Radio Brevetti Ducati SpA, from funds provided by Antonio Cavalieri Ducati (the father) obtained in a property sale in Florence, Italy. He did this because he wanted to build a company around his brilliant son, who had already come to the attention of the world (and the Italian govt) by using home made radio equipment to send the first bilateral radio wave between Italy and America, making it possible for the first time for an Italian military ship to keep in touch with 5 continents at once. For this accomplishment Adriano (known here after in this story as ACD) was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Crown of Italy. The discovery was exceptional because while Marconi had been the first to discover the radio wave, his required 2000 watts. ACD did it with 90 watts. He was 20 years old.
The first offices were 3 rented rooms. The "factory" was in the basement of their home. The objective of the company was to exploit the patent worthy inventions of ACD, of which there were many (he eventually held over 200 patents). The first "product" was called a manens capacitor, a small item that they shipped samples of all over the world with the goal to be noticed by foreign companies. ACD also took that goal on the road, in 1926 he visited Argentina and the United States, and that is where this story begins....
Words and photos by Vicki Smith
"and the house where Marconi invented wireless"
"......ACD was very glad...."
"and ACD Jr" (she means the camera)
"and ACD's Mother........
"........and ACD's and 3CDQ's mothers were also very glad......"
.......but on September eight the convention ended in Venise"
".........and 3cdg left acd........"
Notice the shadow, indicating this photo was taken by acd himself
"where is gone acd's smile"
This is the first "Ducati publicity photo" and is of course original and in perfect condition.
The story of the book ends here but the story of the Ducati brothers is an incredible tale of success, vision, danger and more. It includes the building of a visionary state of the art factory, with workers dressed like doctors in white lab coats, that included a university, and dental office, employed 7000 workers and had an incredible 11 miles of of parts in stock on shelves. Ducati's history during wartime was even more dramatic, from the order by the German High Command to dismantle the factory, tools and equipment, and ship it AND the workers all to Germany (a last minute reprieve stopped this), to the bombing raids that leveled an empty factory because all the tools and machines had been secretly moved by the workers at considerable personal risk to over 70 secret underground warehouses, to the terrifying moment when all 3 brothers were grabbed and put into a van by armed men, who took them to a waiting firing squad, whose leader began to accuse them of collaborating with a fascist regime when suddenly excited shouts were heard and the execution was suspended. "We froze....... they were frightening and unforgettable moments" said Bruno Ducati. Shortly after, all charges were dropped.
The fight to regain control of the firm and finance the clip-on Siata engines that would by 1946, put 4500 Bolognese back to work and in the process, transform Italian transportation, selling over 200,000 units. In 1948 the Ducati Brothers forever lost control of the company to "State Control". The motorcycles they are remembered for were still to come when the brothers were swept away by governmental politics. The irony I spoke of? Well of course it's that, but for ACD the story was just beginning, his life's greatest acheivement still to come. And here the history of Ducati, Italian and American becomes one. As part of Werner Von Braun's scientific team, Adriano Cavalieri Ducati moved to America, and became one of the core aerospace team that put a man on the moon.
And so ends the tale that began on the 4th of July and finds it's way to the moon and eventually, home again. A man immortalized for motorcycles he did not participate in building, and unknown for the truly greatest achievement of putting a man on the moon. Adriano Cavalieri Ducati returned to his beloved Bologna and in 1991, was laid to rest there.