It's a long-forgotten art, whether molded to a radiator cap, sat on a dashboard, or fastened to a hood, mascots were considered essential accessories. Mascots added a personalized good luck charm during a new era of mechanics. They were made in the thousands in the first few decades and came in all shapes and sizes.
Fundamentally, Car Mascots carry traditions back to 16th century marine figureheads. Ships were often decorated with carved wooden figures adorning the bow. The figures often took shape from mythology and were believed to keep evil spirits away, help navigate, and fight enemies. As the popularity of wooden boats waned in the 19th century the transition to land had begun.
One of the earliest known American purpose-built mascots was a small figure called ‘Gobbo, God of Good Luck’ created by L.V. Aronson in March 1909. Aronson was a celebrated designer who was later credited for the graceful sculpture of ‘Speed Nymph’ which hit the marketplace in 1910 and was soon copied by English and French mascot makers. Meanwhile, in France, sculptors were coming up with lots of ideas of their own as well – animals, birds, nudes, and semi-nudes.
Paris 1925, a jeweler and designer by the name of Rene Lalique created his first mascot – The Five Horses. His medium was glass, and the twenty-seven Lalique designs that followed were sculpted of glass, each an exquisite work of art. Rene designed his last automotive mascot in the late thirties.