René Lalique produced a total of 31 different mascots in the six years between the launch of the range in 1925, the year of the landmark Exposition des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, and the grip of economic depression in 1931.
Some had first been marketed as a desk ornaments or paperweights but, with the aid of a metal mount and the new power of electric light, could be fitted to the radiator of a luxury sport car and illuminated. The faster the car went, the brighter the glow.
Amassing a complete collection of pre-war Lalique mascots without recourse to later reproductions is a near impossibility. Although plenty of models, from cockerels to boars and fish, are available in the £1000- 3000 price bracket, the full set requires both very deep pockets and access to two great rarities.
Lévrier 1, a variant of the classic greyhound model designed in 1929 for Prince George, the future Duke of Kent, is deemed a one-off. The only known example was rumoured to have changed hands in 2016 for over $500,000.
Renard, a leaping fox mascot (model No 1182), is marginally more available but it too was made in very small numbers in c.1930. It is estimated that as few as a seven exist – including that which took a surprise $175,000 (£119,000) at a sale at Wiederseim Associates of Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, in November 2011.
Since then Christie’s sold another in May 2017 for £200,000 (£245,000 including premium), a model that had some repolishing to both the fox and its base.
The example that emerged for sale at Kinghams (23% buyer’s premium) in Moreton-in-Marsh on July 2 was part of a stellar estate collection of Lalique mascots that formed the core of a sale titled The Glass of Lalique and his Contemporaries. They were consigned via Kinghams consultant Mark Oliver, former Bonhams specialist.
This particular mascot had been acquired by a deceased vendor over 50 years ago and had never been offered on the open market.
The buyer within estimate at £110,000 (over £135,000 including premium) was Geoffrey George Weiner, specialist dealer and author of the reference work Unique Lalique Mascots.
He told ATG his firm hopes to sell the piece for at least £200,000, describing it as “in as near perfect condition as possible and probably the finest example extant to ever come up for sale”.
Shooting saleroom star
Kinghams’ Lalique-themed sale offered a total of 39 mascots comprising 24 different models and a number of different treatments.
Among the simpler Lalique models but another of the rarities is Comete, model No 1123, designed as a shooting star, c.1925. It has the Lalique signature to the tail.
One of these made a tub-thumping $100,000 at Bonhams in Carmel, California, back in 2013 although the example from the collection of 37 Lalique motoring mascots formed by Robert White offered at Bonhams in 2016 failed to sell at £20,000-30,000.
The model here, with a pale amethyst hue, came in a plated mount marked for the Breves Galleries – the Knightsbridge, London, store commissioned to design accessories suitable for most of Lalique’s mascots. It was guided at £25,000-35,000 and sold at £40,000.
Most Lalique mascots were made in both clear and frosted glass and in special coloured or tinted finishes that can add to their desirability.
There were two versions of Longchamp B, No 1152-B, the second of two horse head models designed c.1929. The standard frosted and polished example took £4500 at Kinghams but the same model in an amber tint brought £10,500.