Stationery Classics No 1 – Coccoina 603

stationery classics - coccoina glue
“the unmistakable scent of almond”


A quick word of introduction to a new feature here – Stationery 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 Stationery Classic? After much thought I settled on this little gem – the Coccoina 603 glue tin. It combines pretty much all that we hold dear, namely style, function, innovation, value for money and a long personal association with it.

Why is it a classic?

There are some items that feel like they have been around forever but few that can claim the status of a 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 classic.

The history

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.

Click here to buy Coccoina 603 glue

  1. There use to be a similar glue available in the uk. It came in a plastic container and had a wax seal over the top of the glue when you opened. It certainly smelt strongly of almonds. I think it has a spreader rather than a brush. Available in the 70s. Can anyone remember the name?

    1. Hi Neil – thank you for getting in touch. We cannot think of the name, but google says couple: Gripfix, Affixofix Glue/paste?


  2. I seem to recall it was Gloy Paste.
    (Gloy Gum was your classic, runny, rubber nozzle stuff.)

  3. To my mind the best available in the 70’s was CowGum – I still have the remnants of a tube that I use – it came in large tubes! – and it still works well. It allows repositioning for two or three minutes and it is simple to wipe of any that squidges out after you’ve pressed it down. It doesn’t make paper wrinkle – it works perfectly! The only product that, to my mind, comes close is Coccoina.

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