French glassmaker René-Jules Lalique produced 30 types of pressed-glass hood ornaments – or mascots – to adorn radiator caps of the wealthy and affluent in the ’20s and ’30s. A jeweler by trade, Lalique opened his first workshop in Paris in 1885, transitioning from jewelry-making and the use of enamel to glassmaking in the ‘20s.
The JBS Collection is proud to be home to a sparkling assortment of rare Lalique hood ornaments.
Read on to discover the history behind the timeless works of art that complete the grand design of some of the world’s most majestic automobiles.
This amber crystal mascot is called “Chrysis.” In the history of ancient Greece, Chrysis was the priestess of Hera at the temple of Argos during the Peloponnesian War. She is known for inadvertently causing a fire leading to the temple’s destruction.
Chrysis now resides in the JBS collection as one of our rarest ornaments.
“Sirene” is another Lalique masterpiece, an Art Deco-styled mascot from the early twentieth century. She is sculpted as a seated sea nymph and features handcrafted detail in beautiful sky blue opalescence.
Lalique seldom used colored or tinted glass, so as one such creation, Sirene is part of an exceptional class of the glassmaker’s work.
In 1928, Lalique created the mascot “Victoire” to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the end of World War I. The ornament is an androgynous figure, its hair blown back by the wind to evoke a sense of speed. Victoire adorned the bonnets of the finest luxury motorcars of the Roaring Twenties.
One of the few mascots slated for mass production, many copies of Victoire were in circulation across various models. The modern Lalique company recently reproduced Victoire in crystal, as well.
The word for ‘speed’ in French, Vitesse is the name of this Lalique-designed mascot. Vitesse leans into the wind, her head back and her hands in her hair, delicately carved to convey a feeling of speed.
Created in 1929, this particular Vitesse is unique among its counterparts: The ornament is crafted from opalescent glass rather than the standard, frosted glass Lalique preferred.
Tête de Paon
This blue, intricately carved peacock named “Tête de Paon” – “peacock head” in English – is a work of art. Lalique most commonly made these ornaments in clear or frosted glass but created a precious few in stunning turquoise blue.
Tête de Paon was first produced in February 1928, one of 19 car mascots marketed as a paperweight due to rising concerns about automobile safety. Produced in lesser numbers, the Tête de Paon is one of Lalique’s rare car mascots.
This sharp, imposing Lalique mascot is “Tete d’Aigle” or “eagle head” in English. The bird’s head is sculpted with careful attention to detail, its eyes appearing to follow you wherever you go.
But this mascot comes with a darker history. Nazi officers appropriated the Tete d’Aigle during World War II, mounting it atop the hoods of automobiles to mirror the pre-existing eagle imagery of the Nazi party. Unfortunately, this mascot is often remembered for this infamous association rather than its marvelous design.
See pictures the Tete d’Aigle atop The JBS Collection’s 1934 Packard Twelve Convertible Dietrich Interior.
Perhaps one of Lalique’s most intricate car mascots, “Libellule Grande,” sits poised and ready for takeoff. The textured wings and body illustrate the attention to detail and craftsmanship devoted to bringing this elegant insect to life.
Libellule Grande is among the 19 car mascots marketed as a paperweight to increase sales during the late 1920s.
This cheetah was born of a modern-day collaboration between the Lalique Group and McLaren Automotive. The first piece produced as part of the “Essence of Speed” collection, the cheetah symbolizes the shared values and pride of performance of the world’s most renowned crystal maker and the elite supercar manufacturer.
The sprinting cheetah, fashioned in satin-finished crystal, was created in an exclusive run of 375, a number equal to the limited-edition McLaren P1 supercars produced.
A falcon is the second in the Lalique and McLaren Automotive design collaboration, “Essence of Speed.” Imagined amid takeoff, the falcon’s beak is down, and its wings are raised in the wind, creating an image of speed.
The satin-finished crystal body furnishes this mascot with the classic Lalique look, the chrome base with a nod to modernity.
This sailfish is the third and final mascot in the “Essence of Speed” collection, a Lalique Group collaboration with McLaren Automotive. The sailfish appears to be vaulting out of an ocean wave to taste the sun, representing performance and possibility.
Only 375 were produced, the same number of McLaren P1 supercars manufactured.