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Accessories - Lalique

Master glassmaker René Lalique (1860–1945) created his stunning car mascot (bouchons de radiateur) designs between 1925 and 1931. Their production ceased in 1940, a year after WWII had begun. René’s factory, Verrerie d’Alsace, in Wingen-sur-Mode was forced to close following German occupation of the Alsace region. René sadly passed away in May 1945, so did not live to see the end of the war, nor the subsequent re-opening of the factory by his son Marc. Marc resumed production of his father’s famous mascot designs using the original steel moulds which had the fortune of being preserved, in spite of the war. These post-war productions, however, were sold as paperweights and desk accessories. From the late 1800s, motor car production, design and technology quickly gathered pace. The invention of the Internal Combustion Engine was to transform motoring forever. A more reliable and user-friendly engine, it required cooling to eliminate overheating; this was achieved via a radiator topped with a cap, its grille visible to the front of the car. Initially caps were just caps! Simply a plain, functional component of the car radiator. But as motoring evolved into a more glamorous affair, the car became the ultimate status symbol, with owners desiring more options for decoration and personalisation, fuelling demand for a car mascot, or hood ornament. The first known car mascot is believed to have been the brainchild of John Douglas-Scott Montagu, 2nd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, British politician, and motoring enthusiast. Around 1899 he commissioned the sculptor Charles Sykes to create a bronze figure of St Christopher for display on his 12HP Daimler. Sykes later became famous for designing Lord Montagu’s further commission in 1909 of the iconic and widely known Spirit of Ecstasy mascot for his Rolls Royce Silver Ghost. The radiator cap was an ideal medium for artistic and decorative development and manufacturers were turning this little object into a much sought-after accessory in its own right. Starting with being topped w

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