History of Italian cards (6): “Compagna di tutti i giorni”

The “Compagna di tutti i giorni” (Everyday Companion) series, also called by collectors with the name “Wallet” or “Black card”, is certainly the one that until today has been printed in the largest number of pieces: 160 million copies sold in just two years. If we think that the commemorative card of the 150th million phone card produced by SIP was issued in 1992 (sixteen years after the first issue of 1976) we can understand the giant steps made by the telephone card in recent years.

The birth of the Compagna di tutti i giorni is quite troubled. The printing of the print run is entrusted to the company Pikappa of Masate, which prepares a first batch of a 10,000 lire piece with a expiration of 30.06.94; but events unfamiliar to us make the trade relations between Sip and Pikappa cool, so that the “black” lot of cards already prepared (but not yet magnetized) is rejected by the telephone company, therefore there is a “not emitted” demagnetized which opens the series in the subject and that, in my opinion, has all the rights to be considered an integral part of the Compagna di tutti i giorni, the card has always been difficult to find.
With the same expiry date of 30.06.94 the other four cards (2 from 5,000 and 2 from 10,000 lire) are regularly issued by the companies Mantegazza and Technicard Polaroid. Eleven new cards from the Compagna di tutti i giorni series, of which three for Alto Adige, are produced with the deadline 31.12.94.

A new feature of this issue is the value of 2000 lire, which appeared among public and private advertising, is also taken for the ordinary with much more cards runs. The cards with deadline 31.12.94 from 5000 and 10.000 lire of the company Mantegazza are made with a double version of the Sip logo on the A side: the first, more common, has the long writing 21.5 mm, while in the other, the so-called Mantegazza “long”, the logo measures 26 mm. There are also two versions of the 10,000 lire Technicard Polaroid card which are distinguished by the bar code ending with three or four thin bars; this second card has a higher value than the base card.


The Compagna di tutti i giorni series of cards with the deadline of 30.06.95, twelve in all, have two other important innovations: the first is the introduction of the face value of 15,000 lire, which will be issued by both manufacturers; the second is the change of the company name of Technicard Polaroid, which becomes Technicard System. Because of this, the subject with a 2000 lire face has a double version of the logo, which in the Technicard System case has a higher value than the Technicard Polaroid. With the date 30.06.95 three cards are also issued in the Alto Adige version.
The subsequent deadline 31.12.95 includes 14 pieces,
different for value or firm; the producing companies remain two, the value of 2000 lire is canceled and 15.000 lire cards are issued also for the Alto Adige. A feature of the bilingual issue of the Compagna di tutti i giorni series is that the side B, in addition to having the written also in German, is presented in a vertical format.

However, there are bilinguals with the horizontal B side, probably due to an error in the printing phase. In fact, the Technicard company printed cards with the regular A side, while the B side was the normal Italian version in a horizontal format; these cards are still issued, followed successively by the correct version with the same run of the previous one. Because of this error, the 15.000 lire vertical card with a deadline of 31.12.95, probably prepared around the middle of the same year, is not distributed through the normal channels, but is sold almost exclusively to collectors through the mail order catalog: this is the reason why the 15.000 lire cut in the vertical version for Alto Adige is rarer than the horizontal one, even if it has the same printing.

The Compagna di tutti i giorni series concludes its operational life with two cards dated 30.06.96 and printed by Mantegazza. Despite having a circulation of 700,000 pieces, the value of 10,000 lire is quite rare in the used state. New, the card in question has instead been sold regularly through the SIP news service catalog.