“the unmistakable scent of almond”
A quick word of introduction to a new feature here on Stationery Wednesday – Bureau Classics. These are items of stationery (and maybe a few more besides) that we have deemed to be classics to us. Some may well be true stationery icons from down the ages, others a bit more obscure. However all will share that same essential criteria, that they are special to us and our history.
With a completely blank slate, the obvious question is where to start? What product would capture the essence of being defined as a Bureau Classic? After much thought I settled on this little Bureau gem – the Coccoina 603 glue tin. It combines pretty much all that we hold dear, namely style, function, innovation, value for money and a lineage that runs through Bureau for nearly 20 years now.
Why is it a Bureau Classic?
There are some items that feel like they have been around Bureau forever but few that can claim the status of a Bureau Classic item on the basis of smell as well as style. The Coccoina 603 tin is a product that outwardly wouldn’t look out of place in an Italian delicatessen or Carluccio’s but for once we get to enjoy it because it is stationery not food.
We fell in love with the unashamedly retro styling of the Coccoina tin the moment we saw it, but that doesn’t remotely prepare you for what is inside. In fact you don’t even need to open the tin to get a hint of the almond scent (ask anyone who has unpacked one of their deliveries) but once you do open the lid there is a powerful aroma of marzipan. Inside you will find a tin of glue, a solid white paste that can be spread. The glue itself is made from potato starch and is entirely natural.
The design inside is also slightly unusual as it involves a ring with a hollowed out middle section. In there you will find a tiny little brush so that you always have a means of applying the glue. But it is the smell that gets you, an addictively sweet fragrance that tempts you back to the glue.
It is this combination of an early twentieth century product from an exotic foreign country in a gorgeous-looking tin that smells incredible and performs a practical purpose that makes this an unquestionable Bureau Classic.
Coccoina glue has been made in Piemont, Northern Italy, since 1927. The company is still run by the same family – the managing director Aldo Balma is the grandson of the inventor of Coccoina glue (also Aldo Balma). The company in fact has two main products, both quite different and distinct in their own way. In fact the other product – the Zenith 548 stapler – could well be considered for a future Bureau Classics piece of its own.
The Coccoina 603 tin has remained unchanged since it was first launched, and it is unashamedly retro in its styling. There have been occasional nods to development and the demands of the modern user – tubes and glue sticks such as the Coccoina 644 as well as plastic pots of glue, but it is the a original 603 tin that defines this product. The glue has always had that unique almond scent, added during production.
When we first stocked it
We first stocked Coccoina glue back in 1999, and it was an instant success over the years. But like most products, at some point it dropped off the product listing and it was only some years later when it reappeared. Back in 2013 we were offered it again and jumped at the chance. It was like a happy memory of something past. Possibly that decision was affected by the memory, like meeting an old friend again, but since then (that’s nearly 4 years and counting) this has been a consistently popular seller. To date we have sold over 1,000 tins of this glue and it shows no signs of going soon.