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The Sy and Ronnie Margolis Collection of Automobile Mascots

  • Live Online Auction: Sunday, July 24, at 11:30 PDT
  • Online Preview: June 21-July 24

Turner Auctions + Appraisals is pleased to offer the Sy and Ronnie Margolis Collection of Automobile Mascots.  The sale features over 215 lots of diverse car mascots, mostly from the U.S., France and Britain; and related collectibles. Turner Auctions + Appraisals will begin its online auction on July 24 at 11:30 am PDT; sale items can be previewed online from June 21 until the sale starts.  The online auction will be featured live on LiveAuctioneers and Invaluable, with links below.

Sy and Ronnie Margolis’s eclectic collection features a wide range of hood or fender ornaments, from about 1909 to recent times.  Most date from the 1920s and 1930s, with many from the 1910s as well.  In the early days of automobiles, wealthy owners would customize their vehicles with mascots to add beauty, make a political statement, identify with an organization or brand, or convey something about themselves.  This collection offers a very wide selection of subject matter – from playful to classical – as petite statues: most mascots range from 4 to 9 inches in height and/or width. 

Reflecting the era of Art Deco design – sleek and stylized – there are numerous winged gods and goddesses, as well as more human women and men.  Fauna are a popular subject matter, including animals (lion, ape, cat, dogs, panther, fox squirrel, seal, bunny, bear), birds (eagles and owl), and fish.  Famous figures are widely represented, both real (Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Richard Nixon, Cleopatra, British Bobbies) and not (Uncle Sam, the Statue of Liberty, Cupid, Cupie).  Amusing mascots include a bulldog with a sore tooth, a golfing beetle, Jojo the Gnome, and a baby with a toothache (from the French Dental Association).  Marking the excitement of early aviation and its pioneers, there are a number of early 20th-century car mascots featuring airplanes and/or Charles Lindbergh, who made his historic first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927.  Hood ornaments from automobile manufacturers include Cadillac, Studebaker, Stutz, Jaguar, Willys-Knight, Lincoln, Chevy, DeSoto, Pontiac and Mack Truck. The collection also include several glass mascots, including one from René Lalique, and various moto meters, used in early automobiles to read the temperature of the radiator.  Rounding out the sale are related automobile ephemera including advertising prints, art, posters, letters, stock certificates and vintage photos.

Residents of Orange County, Sy and Ronnie Margolis started their collection in the late 1980s as an engaging hobby the couple could enjoy together.  During that time, Mr. Margolis, an art aficionado and enthusiast of fast Italian cars, and his wife attended an Avanti owners’ outing at the Nethercutt Collection in Sylmar, California, near Los Angeles.  On their tour of the acclaimed automobile museum, the couple was struck by the history and charm of the car mascots, which are like “beautiful little statues,” said Mrs. Margolis.  Thus began a collecting passion that continued until Mr. Margolis passed away in 2008. 

In their early collecting years, Mr. and Mrs. Margolis purchased the hood ornaments at antique shows and car shows:  two favorite venues were Hershey, the noted car show in Pennsylvania, and the fall Beaulieu motor event near Southampton, England.  As online commerce developed, some later additions were acquired on eBay.  Despite the size of their collection, which ultimately totaled over 300 items, it was kept on display in their home, on shelves where they see their treasures and remember the fun they’d had acquiring them.  While Mr. Margolis was drawn to mascots that are beautiful, Mrs. Margolis preferred those that are whimsical.  Together they created an engaging, eclectic collection of miniature works of art and delight.

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