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THE LONATI COLLECTION OF AMERICAN MOTORCYCLES at The Autumn Stafford Sale Saturday 17 October 2015

Schermata 2015-10-17 alle 11.24.50
Schermata 2015-10-17 alle 11.54.44Bonhams is privileged to offer for sale here the single- owner motorcycle collection assembled by the late Tiberio Lonati (1944-2013) one of the giants of the Italian textile machinery industry.

Born in the city of Brescia in Lombardy, Northern Italy, home of the Italian hosiery machinery industry, he was the third and youngest son of Francesco Lonati, founder of what would later become the international Lonati Group. The Lonati story had begun in the aftermath of WW2 when Francesco Lonati set up a company to manufacture hosiery knitting machines, which has since grown to become the world leader in this highly specialised field of industrial technology. Tiberio joined the family firm straight from school and after spells in the UK and Germany learning those countries’ languages and studying their markets, returned to Brescia to take up a management position within the company, eventually ending up as its CEO.

When Lonati bought one of Italy’s oldest hosiery machine makers – Santoni – Tiberio was given control of that company and developed it into a world leader in ‘seamless’ circular knitting machinery, one of the most significant textile manufacturing breakthroughs of recent times. He acquired related technologies from Vignoni (large diameter circular knitting machine) and Mecmor (garment length circular knitting machine) and set up a production facility in China: the Santoni Shanghai Company. Santoni’s position as leader in the field of ‘seamless’ knitting technology was the perfect complement for Lonati’s pre-eminence in the manufacture of sock-making and hosiery machines. Tiberio’s willingness to take risks and invest in novel technologies was one of the major driving forces behind Sonati’s success.

A man with a passion for collecting, Tiberio expanded his father’s private collection of ancient Chinese sculpture and ceramics while at the same time cultivating his own tastes. He collected classic cars and motorcycles, having been introduced to the latter by his son Francesco, who had a passion for Harley-Davidsons. Francesco encouraged his father to buy one of these iconic American machines, the ‘civilianised’ 1942 WLA (Lot 38), which was the collection’s first acquisition and remained Tiberio’s favourite motorcycle. He loved what these machines represent – passion and freedom – and personally rode around 70% of those he acquired, having had them all tested at time of purchase. Spanning the period from the pioneering days of the early 20th Century to the 1980s, the collection was housed in a facility designed for that purpose by Tiberio himself.

These motorcycles have not been run for some considerable time and all will require re-commissioning, to a greater or lesser extent, and the customary safety checks before returning to the road. Prospective bidders should satisfy themselves with regard to a particular machine’s correctness and originality prior to bidding.

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