In search of Moriondo's espresso machine - Page 2

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#11: Post by Peppersass »

another_jim wrote:Amazing work; thank you.

The Moriondo/Molinari thing has me wondering ... if I copy a patent from country A and file it in country B, what happens? What happened in the 1890s? Could there be lawsuit records about the conflict of all these patents or the Moriondo and Bezzera ones?
In today's world, you can copy an invention patented in another country and sell it anywhere it's not patented. But if you try to file for a patent in your country (or anywhere else), it's likely that the existence of a prior patent in another country would be found by your country's patent office to be "prior art" (i.e., not new to the world.) and you won't get the patent.

If you want to protect a product worldwide, t's best to apply for a patent under the PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty). That extends the application protection to something like 152 countries. In other words, you get "first to file" status. However, I believe you still have to seek patent grants for the individual countries in which you want a granted patent. It can cost $200K or more to get reasonable international patent coverage.

Don't know what it was like in the 1890s but pretty sure there was no PCT.


#12: Post by OldNuc »

At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century U.S. patent law was quite different than now. Most inventors filed for patents in all countries they wanted patent protection in, if they did not someone else could file for the patent if the law of that country happened to allow. American history of the period is rather cluttered with patent infringement suits.

This search for the mysterious Moriondo machine Is quite interesting. Now is there an existing physical example of this machine?

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#13: Post by pootoogoo (original poster) »

It is very difficult to know what happened in the early years of the patent system (end of 18th century for some countries)... since the communications (and verification systems) were not as easy as today.

For the Molinari "patent", it is also possible that the "introduction" of an invention (that was clearly distinguish later) was not specified in the early years. Hence, I believe it is possible that the Molinari patent is an introduction patent rather than an invention... but that's only a guess.

Anyway, it would be interesting to have the point of view of an historian/lawyer about it, since I always wonder why some patents in the 50s where systematically deposited in many countries and why others where only registered in one country (mostly in Italy concerning coffee machines). I believed there was agreement between the countries to avoid cheating... but it's still not clear for me.

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pootoogoo (original poster)

#14: Post by pootoogoo (original poster) »

Finding a needle in a haystack (part 3/3)
by Sebastien L. Delprat (aka pootoogoo)

Let me explain how I came up with the design of the second machine on the Moriondo stand. That's where the story becomes a bit more esoteric and may lead the reader to question the sanity of the author. ;-)

When, almost 3 years later, I wrote the story of Cimbali,⁷ I made my own interpretation of the famous Giuseppe Cimbali picture in front of his first repair shop (taken around 1912). I'm convinced that this picture reveals much more than Giuseppe himself: not because of the other person in the picture (likely one of his employees), but rather for the machines in the background. My hypothesis is that these two machines were carefully chosen among the only and most prestigious machines of that time: to name them, a Bezzera (at the back) and a Moriondo machine (in front).

The Bezzera, is easily identifiable, but for the Moriondo machine, one has to make a guess from the different patents themselves, to strongly feel it. That's the frontier I crossed... and hence that's where I took the model for the second machine on the stand. I designed it according to the 1885 Moriondo patent model, freely inspired by the Cimbali picture (in particular for the relative size) and added below a "Fornello ad alcool", similar to the kind used for heating and cooking at the time. Such a setup would allow to heat up the boiler and serve express coffees to visitors during the exhibition.

The second machine on the stand would therefore look something like this:

And here is the complete Moriondo exhibition stand compared to the original picture from 1898.

The same stand from the visitor's point of view, as thousands saw it in 1898:

Don't you think it makes sense... isn't this as if you could touch it?
Animated 3D model of the Angelo Moriondo stand (1898 Fiera di Torino, Galleria del Lavoro).⁸

I am now very confident of my conclusions.

This is not only because this would make me the discoverer of not one but three Moriondo machine pictures, but also because it is a real lesson. It shows that the truth is often in front of our eyes... but sometimes requires an effort, a change in perspective, a mix of understanding and interpretation, for it to be seen.

With regards to my intuition about the Giuseppe Cimbali picture: it is pretty clear to me now that the machine beside him is a small Moriondo machine because of its similarity with the second machine on the 1898 stand and the 1884 Moriondo patent on many aspects (the portafilter's shape, its position on the boiler, the screws on top of it and the curve on the pipe below, the taps and handles, etc.).

Anyhow, this story is too good to be wrong. :) It transforms this scene into an homage to the godfather of the espresso machines, from the creator of the brand that will become a hundred years later the world's largest coffee machine manufacturer.
Another pictures that hundreds of people have seen without finding its hidden treasure...

This is even worse when part of the documents are systematically hidden: while I was preparing this article, I just discovered that there is another side to the famous Cimbali picture, and it shows what could be another Moriondo machine!

If you doubt, ask yourself how this other machine seems so old on a 1912 picture...

That would make at least four different Moriondo models. Perhaps there are other ones hidden somewhere... maybe for real... ready to be found by open eyes. For sure, it changes the perspective of Moriondo building a unique instantaneous coffee machine just for his own Caffè.

So how old is the lady sitting on the Cimbali workshop step: 25 or 130 years old?

7. Ascenseur pour l'Expresso, episode 24
8. Design made under Sketchup, Video under Icecream Screen recorder, Rendering by Autodesk FBX review and Music by The Buzzcocks - Why can't I Touch it (1979)

I'd like to thank Thomas (aka bidowee), Gary Seeman (aka drgary) and last but not the least, Ian Bersten for their useful comments, corrections and suggestions about the article.

The end... (?)

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#15: Post by AssafL »

Thank you for the research. Awesome read.

Looking at the patents, all the fittings all look like traditional steam fittings (the sort you'd find attached to steam engines).

The boiler looks very much like a standard steam boiler with wood lagging and bracing (Stuart models which sells steam engines as toys has quite a few of those).

I guess that in those days the "instant" coffee shop (cool! Sounds like Nescafé) would probably look much like the machine shop next door with the steam hoses and unions and steam faucets.

Perhaps the reason for the fancy figurines and eagles and ornaments is to make it look less like a machine shop and more like something you could drink from.
Scraping away (slowly) at the tyranny of biases and dogma.


#16: Post by happycat »

I really appreciate your approach... great detective story with intriguing evidence.
LMWDP #603


#17: Post by OldNuc »

Period steam engines were also ornamented. This is an interesting story complete with pictures to prove the theory. Now to turn up a physical example.

Looking at the photo of the 5 individuals it still looks to be cropped down in size. On the right side there is a lighter shade of gray intruding into the standing persons left arm. What else is not in the picture?

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#18: Post by pootoogoo (original poster) »

Thanks !

These are interesting comments: the newspaper article that first talked about the inventions reads «Essa fu eseguita sotto la direzione dell'inventore dal meccanico Martina.» [It was realized under the supervision of the inventor by the Martina's mechanician].

It appears that this Martina workshop is certainly the Torinese Officine "G. Martina", founded 1860, that was producing machinery for the chocolate industry (the link is very easy to make with Moriondo's family business).

Adds from 1927-1928

It later became the S.A.F.O.V.

Insert from 1939

I also found one day a picture that made me think a lot to the Moriondo's machine: it shows the steam boiler from a locomotive (Moriondo Caffè Ligure was in front of the main Torino railway station).

Pickering Steam Railcar Engine Compartment


#19: Post by OldNuc »

Asbestos protected by wood slats was a common technique for insulating boilers. I suspect some of the polished metal or nickle/chrome plated machines were just the outer jacket with the actual boiler well insulated underneath.

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#20: Post by bidoowee »

Great work as always Dr. P.
You realize however, that now you'll have to find a real one ;)