Bespoke Mascots, Automotive Jewelry, Vol. Two
by Nicholas Dawes, Michael Furman
“A tie is the only completely non-functional component of western male attire, and has much the same place in a man’s life as his automobile mascot.”
Even sartorially astute men would not accept this statement as is—never mind women (regarding their own wardrobe, or, for that matter, a man’s)—but the point it is trying to belabor is that a car mascot is one way of “expressing” yourself.
From beer-swilling dwarves to begging dachshunds and California surfers to ultra-classy Lalique glass ornaments, this book takes a look at the manifestations this need for self-expression has taken. Past tense is the operative form here because these days, legislative measures addressing pedestrian impact safety concerns have made hood ornaments all but nonexistent and few marques still sport them (Rolls-Royce, some Bentleys, Mercedes and Jaguar sedans).
Back in the day there were multiple manufacturers, entire catalogs, and thousands of options, many of which best forgotten. This book showcases only a few dozen representative examples. It is a companion piece to last year’s book that featured badges, ornaments, and lettering that manufacturers dreamt up. Unlike the multitude of contributors to the last one, the new book is written all by one person, Nicholas Dawes, whom US readers may recognize as an appraiser on Antiques Roadshow on PBS. He’s also an auctioneer and lecturer. That he specializes in René Lalique is readily apparent here because the only time the commentary moves from the perfunctory to the insightful is whenever one of the 28 (or 31, if you include everything) ornaments by this maker come up. But the text, which only serves to broadly divide the book into themes, is not the main draw anyway, the photos are.
Beautifully lit and photographed, the images have that distinctive reach-out-and-touch-it appeal. Casting marks, scratches in the metal, oxidation, smoked glass, clear glass—that everything looks so lifelike in print is thanks to photographer Furman’s long-time collaborators at Brilliant Graphics. All the hard data is bundled at the back of the book where all ornaments are listed in page order with title, artist, material, dimensions, the car it’s on, and in some cases additional commentary. Mini bios of the artists round out the book; as Furman rightly points out, it is a pity that so little is known about some of them and the readership is invited to offer more information for a future edition.
Mascots were also used on bicycles and motorcycles but that is not part of this book.
The book is not cheap but much cheaper than buying any of the mascots! Consider that a compete 31-piece set of Lalique sold in 2012 at a world-record $805,000 . . .
Copyright 2014, Sabu Advani (speedreaders.info).