Black Bart’s Emporium, Inc. was founded circa 1979 by Robert Bartel for the purpose of supplying obsolete parts for older Alfa Romeos. Soon after, “Bart” added accessories and more models to the product line.
The reason for the original web site began in 1981 when Robert and his wife Jane visited an automotive trade show in Chicago. Being interested in things Italian, they cruised the Italian vendors’ aisle where they spotted an Italian gentleman and his wife marketing key fobs and decorative metal plaques. Thinking key fobs would be a nice addition to the product line, they stopped to look. What really caught their attention was in the back of the booth on a narrow table, there was a jumbled pile of grill badges, scripts, and coachbuilder emblems; and on the top of the pile was a large ‘Touring’ badge identical to the one on the back of Roberts recently purchased 1954 1900CSS Touring coupe. That short conversation began a nearly twenty-year relationship with that Italian vendor.
That Italian company was founded in 1934 by his father for the express purpose of producing badges and emblems for the Italian automotive industry. Their contributions have been so significant that they have their own space at the Turin Automotive Museum. All of the badges and emblems are produced using the original dies for the stampings, and then hand filled and finished. Because of the handwork nature of the cloisonné process, you may not find a perfect badge; nearly perfect, but not perfect.
Cloisonné by definition is an ancient technique for decorating metalwork objects. In recent centuries, vitreous enamel has been used, and inlays of cut gemstones, glass, and other materials were also used during older periods. The resulting objects can also be called cloisonné. The decoration is formed by first adding compartments to the metal object by soldering or affixing silver or gold wires or thin strips placed on their edges. These remain visible in the finished piece, separating the different compartments of the enamel or inlays, which are often of several colors. Cloisonné enamel objects are worked on with enamel powder made into a paste, which then needs to be fired in a kiln.
We can also order (in quantity) badges that are no longer in production, but the die is on file. For instance, they made the original ‘Arnolt’ badges and we had a batch made up for a collector with several Arnolt Bristol’s. The company also produces custom key fobs and decorative plaques, to your specifications. If you have an interest in this area, please inquire.
With the recent passing of the great Robert Bartel, our team here at T. Rutlands is now operating Black Bart’s Emporium in his place. T. Rutlands and Motion Products (MPI) have been working closely with Robert’s widow Jane to continue his legacy in the same way he would have wanted. In his own words, “we need to preserve what is grand from our past” and we intend to do so. Our goal is and has always been to serve you in the best manner possible, so if you have any suggestions as to how we can improve our service or our website, please feel free to contact us.