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Storia 1900

1900: Internationalisation

Despite two wars and a bombing, the company grew and gained worldwide notoriety during the first half of the twentieth century. As of the 1920s, the Manetti family’s gold leaf adorned many of the most prestigious monuments of Paris, New York, London and Moscow.

During the early twentieth century, under the leadership of Giusto’s son, Adolfo, the company continued to grow: by the time it moved to its new headquarters on Via Ponte alle Mosse it employed a hundred employees and, thanks to the automatic hammers and new technologies developed since the second industrial revolution, it was able to export gold and silver leaf to all the European markets for the first time. Then came the first stoppage: the Great War broke out, the borders closed, the orders decreased dramatically, and the workers were called to arms. Adolfo’s son, Giusto Manetti (1891-1961), also enlisted in the army as a Cavalry Lieutenant for the Lancers of Mantua. Despite being a reserve officer, he decided to fight alongside the other soldiers, and was wounded and captured by the Austrian army during the battle of Monfalcone in 1915, after which he was held prisoner for two years.

In 1918, he returned to Florence with the War Merit Cross, the Silver Medal for Military Valour, and the steadfast determination to take the reins of the family business. Despite operating in the first post-war period (one of the most difficult periods in Italian history), from 1920 to 1940 Giusto introduced further innovations to the production process (introducing the use of electromagnetic hammers to the sector in order to replace the traditional mechanical leaf-hammers), tripled the number of employees (for a total of three hundred), and began exporting to every continent. Under his leadership, gold leaf from Giusto Manetti Battiloro adorned Rockefeller Center, Versailles, the Kremlin and Buckingham Palace.
But there was another dramatic conflict on the horizon. During the Second World War, conscription significantly reduced the workforce, and even Giusto enlisted as a High Ranking Cavalry Officer. On July 2, 1944, the company was apparently mistaken for a weapons depot, and was razed to the ground by allied bombings. While this was an extremely hard blow, Giusto was able to rebuild the headquarters thanks to the help of the workers, and began production again in September of 1946.