(Translation by Dario Romani)
In the late 1950s, the famous American firm Lionel manufacturer of electric trains in ¼” scale – 0 gauge, decided to enter the H0 scale market.
The Lionel was founded in 1900 by Joshua Lionel Cowen and was the largest and most respected manufacturer of electric trains in America, but at the time only in ¼” scale .
In 1957, on the advice of the first American importer of Rivarossi, Nathan Polk (Aristo-Craft), Lionel’s CEO Alan Ginsburg contacted the firm Rivarossi for a large supply of rolling stock in H0 scale.
The stock was the "American" production of Rivarossi, already in the correct H0 scale. Printed in the underframe there was also the brand name Lionel, and packaging was in Lionel cartons.
Alessandro Rossi used to remember how they made the race against time and deliver the material within schedule.
"It was the year of the Asian (Asian flu of 1957) and many workers were sick at home, while there were planes from the US ready for loading the goods. We had to work day and night with the survived work-force. To ease customs practices, the “Guardia di Finanza” Custom Officers came to our premises, at four in the morning! Things that were only possible in Italy, the Italy at that time "
Tony Stanford sent us these images of the now rare Lionel catalog of 1957, where the H0 Lionel is everything but ... Rivarossi!
Thanks to Tony Stanford for images