LN Mattei, a Corsican story to be discovered in a beautiful illustrated book

LN Mattei, a Corsican story to be discovered in a beautiful illustrated book

On the occasion of one hundred and fifty years of the brand behind the famous Cap Corse, the company publishes a richly illustrated and skilfully documented book. With a bias: to reveal this page of Corsica’s entrepreneurial and social history to as wide an audience as possible.

One hundred and fifty years of existence is something to be celebrated and at the LN Mattei distillery we decided to do it in a rather unexpected way: by publishing a book that shows all the stages of the “island saga” – to use the subtitle of the book – that makes up this entrepreneurial adventure that began in 1872. “We are very aware of the heritage value of the LN Mattei brand and, on the occasion of this anniversary, we wanted to reconstruct its history in such a way that it would be accessible to the widest possible audience, confides Armelle Sialelli, head of marketing and communications of the distillery. We especially wanted this book to reflect not a legend, but the reality of the company’s history. »

The editorial project was entrusted to Dominique Matteiwho is not related to the founder of the brand, but for years ran another institution in Bastia: the cultural center Una Volta. “In December 2021, I was contacted by Armelle, with whom I had already worked in the past, she explains. Very quickly we established an editorial team and that’s when I started studying the history of the Mattei distillery. A largely unknown story that I quickly discovered how fascinating it is. »

READ ALSO. Cap Corse Mattei passes … a milestone of 150 years

“On the level of Coca-Cola or Perrier”

A research paper that leads the author to delve into a thick corpus of sources: archives, heritage funds of the Bastia library, university publications, family collections, the catalog of the exhibition set up in 1992 at the Museum of Corsica and specifically dedicated to Mattei’s adventure…“This particularly enabled me to bring out important previously unpublished iconography that can be found in the book”continues Dominique Mattei.

Photographs, posters, press releases… the discovery of these “visuals” will greatly guide the editorial project.

Portrait of François Mattei, made between 1900 and 1905 - ©CDC, Musée de la Corse/DR/Photo Christian Andreani

Far from iconography being a simple illustration of a text, iconography itself represents a way of telling a story. “What I tried to do was to offer different levels of reading, explains the author. There are very short chapter headings that outline the main stages of the story. Then there is the rich iconography – 160 posters and photographs – which is highly captioned and allows easy flipping through the book. Finally, there is the text and notes, for those who want to delve deeper into the topic. »

Detail of promotional poster, 1920 - © Distillerie LN Mattei

The formula works. It is enough to open the book and immerse yourself through posters and photos in a century and a half of island life and discover the entrepreneurial genius of the founder of the brand LN Mattei. “More than a business book, it is a history book, a book about the history of Corsica, points out David Fouré, a publisher specializing in photography books, who led the project together with Dominique Mattei. And that is even better said because at LN Mattei we can rely on exceptional iconography, on the level of Perrier, Coca-Cola or Pierrot Gourmand lollipops. »

Development of the territory

It must be said that Louis-Napoleon Mattei and his nephew François, who succeeded him at the head of the distillery in 1908, are not ordinary entrepreneurs. The first is much more than a genius entrepreneur who turns everything he touches into gold and who in 1894 launched the famous Cap Corse with cinchona.

Cap Corse Mattei creates emulations.  Counterfeit labels.  - ©Henri Orenga de Gaffory/René Lota

He is a real historical figure whose economic activity will shape the island territory. “He is the one who brings the city of Bastia into the twentieth century, emphasizes Armelle Sialelli. He is a visionary who drives the development of the city towards the north and who is very early part of the export strategy by settling near the port. » Dominique Mattei adds: “Entering Patrimonio and the Lido de la Marana, he is also the one who foresees the development of the wine-growing area of ​​Corsica. »

Look for LN Mattei in Saigon.  - © Musée de la Corse/DR/Christian Andreani

Louis-Napoleon’s political commitment is undoubtedly less well-known. A Republican by conviction, close to Emmanuel Arène, he created a newspaper in Ajaccio, Republican Union, dedicated to spreading his ideas on the island.

READ ALSO. Distillery LN Mattei is all about gin

Beaten several times by Auguste Gaudin, he failed to be elected mayor of Bastia, but he would nevertheless experience his moment of consecration when the President of the Republic, Sadi Carnot, personally came to his shop on the Place Saint-Nicolas to present him with the emblems of the National Order of Merit.

Marketing and cinema

The character of François Mattei is no less interesting. He took over the reins of the business in 1908, after the death of his uncle (who was also his stepfather). Under his leadership, the distillery is expanding its distribution network, both on the island and abroad. A strategy based on a visionary marketing policy. “He is a real genius. emphasizes Armelle Sialelli. Before anyone else, he invented derivatives, point-of-sale promotion, and even product placement, when in 1936 the LN Mattei brand appeared on screen for five minutes in César, the last part of Marcel Pagnolo’s Marseille Trilogy. »

Maison Reynaud advertising pavilion in Marseille.  - © Henri Orenga de Gaffory

But the book is not limited to evoking this “golden age” of the distillery. In accordance with the design of its designers, the story tells the entire history of the brand and looks with the same rigor at the less successful years and periods of transition: the crisis of the early 1970s that forced the Mattei family to separate from the business, with the takeover in 1981 by the entrepreneur René Lota and, finally, with the creation in 2016 of Distillerie LN Mattei, which is now chaired by David Dary.

We discover another part of this fascinating “island saga”… by tasting Cap.

The book signing will take place in Bastia on Saturday, December 10 at 5 p.m. in the Alma bookstore.

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