Luigi Buffoli

(Chiari 1850 - Milano 1914)

He founded the first consumer cooperative among the railwaymen in Milan, drawing inspiration from the English experience of Rochdale that later became the cooperative Union of Milan.

However, unlike the Rochdale cooperation, the cooperative Union worked predominantly between middle class and professional employees, and pursued profit aims by selling at market price- in this it followed the English cooperation- rather than at cost price, in accordance with the need, in order to “not disturb the general market conditions” and simultaneously “fulfil a function of Cassa di Risparmio that doesn’t pay interests”. With the amendments to the article of association in 1887 the refund of savings in proportion to purchases was extended to non-members; with those of 1890 the subscription of members was extended until becoming illimited.

Within the National League of cooperatives Buffoli promoted a position that wanted the cooperative head office as an autonomous organisation, far from political party or religious views: this approach was however a minor one. His opinion, unfortunately not supported by the cooperative leaders of that time, was very clear about this: the League of cooperatives doesn’t deal with politics nor religion. Cooperation is a neutral territory (..) any society that joins it recognises that cooperation must not serve as an instrument for any party.

He was author of numerous volumes, among which:

L'organizzazione delle società cooperative di consumo, Milano, Sonzogno, 1895, pp.62
Le società cooperative di consumo, Milano, Sonzogno, 1896, pp. 63
Guida del compratore, Milano 1898
Lo sviluppo della cooperazione inglese, Milano 1900


Further readings:
• Luigi Luzzatti, Commemorazione di Luigi Buffoli fatta in occasione dell'inaugurazione del monumento alla di lui memoria in Milanino il 24 ottobre 1920, Milanino, Tipografia dell'Unione cooperativa, 1920, pp. 10
• V. Totomianz, Luigi Buffoli, in Pantheon cooperativo, Roma, 1955
• B. Anatra, Buffoli Luigi, in Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, vol.XV, Roma, 1972
• Pasquale Iovene, Paola Signorino, a cura di, Le imprese di Luigi Buffoli: dall'Unione Cooperativa alla città-giardino del Milanino: immagini, documenti, testimonianze /testi di Marco Andréula ... [et al.] ; interventi di Lorenzo Gaiani ... [et al.] ; in collaborazione con Associazione Amici del Milanino, Milano, 2016, pp.237
• Treccani, BUFFOLI, Luigi in "Dizionario Biografico"