Bidding has begun for more than 100 rare vintage mascots, designed to adorn the radiator caps of early and pre-war motorcars, being offered by Bonhams in a New York online auction.
The mascots, all offered without reserve, include depictions of animals and mythical beasts, scantily dressed (and undressed) women, knights and warriors, racing images, symbolic and patriotic references, and humorous cartoon figures.
Most of the mascots are from the 1920s and ’30s, with a few ranging back to the beginning of the 20th Century. The mascots all come from a private collection, and most are valued at less than $1,000.
The Fine Motoring Mascots auction, based at Bonhams’ New York gallery but held online, will have timed lots all closing prior to Bonhams’ 10th annual Scottsdale collector car auction, which takes place January 21 as a live sale with remote bidding.
Among the top offerings are The Mystery, a design by artist Charles Sykes who created the famed Spirit of Ecstasy mascot that’s still seen on the prows of Rolls-Royce automobiles. The Mystery has a similar look to the Rolls mascot and is reputed to have been a companion piece that was never used by the automaker. The pre-auction estimated value is $4,000 to $5,000. Another evocative mascot, which depicts a devilish-looking centaur in full gallop, was designed in France and is valued at $1,200 to $1,600. Along the same lines is the flying part-woman/part-duck creature by E Fady designed for customers of the Garage St Didier in Paris. Its value is $750 to $1,000.
One of the few post-war mascots is that of an armored knight with sword and shield and made to go on the radiator caps of 1946-49 Invicta Black Prince automobiles from the UK. The value for this rare piece is $3,500 to $4,500.
Looking through the full catalog of mascots, one sees monkeys, pigs, frogs, elephants and snails; cartoon characters such as Barney Google on his slow-poke race horse Spark Plug; Napoleon Bonapart, St. Christopher, Charlie Chaplin, Isadora Duncan and King Arthur; a boxer and a golfer; and of course, many naked ladies.
For more information on the Bonhams’ mascot sale, visit the auction website.