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Yet another display into the junk room... These took me a while to find, but the small size of the shell made it hard to display emblems in, so I kept hunting until it could be filled. The shell is from an American Austin, the hood ornament, although listed in Bill Williams's book "Motoring Mascots of the World", is not recognized by the Austin Club.

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Got a few but looks like you are way ahead of me! Close ups appreciated - have looked at lot and rejected many of them as repros. Unless they have the makers info on the back I've always thought of them as "suspicious." Can you tell us more about how to tell originals? I'm guessing a little wear would be important but aside from there, easy to get burned in a swap meet or flea-bay. How about a close up on the mascot-it would be a challenge to try and identify it.

Terry

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Is there anything you DON'T collect Terry??? Heck - you are a bad as Sherman and I put together...

I'll get the camera out and take some close-up's - the ornament has "American Austin" written in the wheel the banty is running on which pretty much tells a story in my book. As for the fobs, few of these are not marked, and those which are not are thinner than the reproductions and have a higher quality to the coloring. I'll give some more detail with the close-up pictures.

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Here are the close-up's I promised, as well as a picture showing the different markings on a few and pictures of the Austin ornament I commented on. A couple of the fobs are thin cheap shell stampings and are not maker-marked - the car, plane, and bike being a very common style, and the one tabbed onto the leather strap being another. Others that are unmarked show proper age that is hard to fake although a reproduction from the 1980's could present a problem if it were used frequently since. The touring car with the Chevrolet like wheel below it (under the AAA) is one in this category, and the Essex at the bottom was dug the back being pitted into the copper - it may have been marked at one time, but not any more. The Ford winged pyramid at the top is also not marked, and I've written a newsletter article for my Ford club on how to tell the difference between it and a repro - the repro has one less wing feather than the real one!

The Stutz and Durocar are well marked but I think they should have been enameled as I've seen others that way - the Stutz has a plating where the Durocar does not. The Apperson, Durocar, Rickenbacker, and round Ford fob all have dealership advertising on the reverse, the AAA is from a 1913 event in New York and also has a lot of info on it's back. The winged wheel at the top is a WW-1 "Roll of Honor" medal given to employees of Stromberg and has a nicely detailed reverse side with that info there. The RCH is the only script style fob I have and is marked "Whitehead & Hoag"

The 1913 Mercedes is a question - it came from South America and is written all in Spanish, the back is also covered in an advertisement. There were several on e-bay in a short time like they were just found in a warehouse, and they are a good quality stamping with a quality plating as opposed to a cheap casting with questionable finish, but I can't grantee it is genuine as I'm not familiar with foreign markings. The other one I'm not 100% on is the Tourist - it is well marked by "L. A. Rubber Stamp" but I've heard that that was one of the companies making the reproductions at one time.

I've also noticed a few give-away characteristics that I'll comment on. First - the reproduction fobs seem to all have a very fancy curl at the strap slot - real ones are fairly plain there. Next is the thickness of the blank - repro's are thick, these are thinner. Sterling was not strong enough to take the strain - plated brass or copper are the norm, but I don't think silver was used. Original fobs were stamped - NOT cast - the fob will ring if you tap it with a pen. Coloring is a another error with the reproductions - they just can't seem to reproduce the colors correctly - plating included.

Not sure if any of this helps, but I do welcome other observations.

Regards,

Mark

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  • 2 weeks later...

Wow, you're ahead of me on watch fobs for sure! Now that I'm home for a few days I'll get some more photos done and post them. Still sorting out pics from the Reliability Tour. Lots of great brass cars!

There are a few things I really don't collect, like license plates. I guess we have a few of everything though. Remember - three of anything is a collection (two is only a pair).

Terry

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Wow, you're ahead of me on watch fobs for sure! Now that I'm home for a few days I'll get some more photos done and post them. Still sorting out pics from the Reliability Tour. Lots of great brass cars!

There are a few things I really don't collect, like license plates. I guess we have a few of everything though. Remember - three of anything is a collection (two is only a pair).

Terry

I have a "collection of collections" as I like to call my prizes.

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I seem to have a "collection of collections" too. It started out with just an old Model A emblem and got out of hand. It's fun to look up the history of each item as they are found - I've learned a lot about the interactions between the early auyomotive giants that way.

I look forward to seeing pictures of new ones to look for too.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Your Tourist is the same as mine - is the back of yours marked too, or just the strap loop?

I've seen the Haynes before, but the ones I've seen were not marked at all and they did not "feel" right - I've never seen the Stanley fob with any markings as yours has - the ones I've seen were also sterling silver which makes me believe they were reproductions.

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Your Tourist is the same as mine - is the back of yours marked too, or just the strap loop?

I've seen the Haynes before, but the ones I've seen were not marked at all and they did not "feel" right - I've never seen the Stanley fob with any markings as yours has - the ones I've seen were also sterling silver which makes me believe they were reproductions.

No, the back of the Tourist item is not marked.

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The history of the Pan is interesting - it would appear that they were better at advertising and selling stock than actually producing a car...

I have 2 original fobs from the Pan company, the enameled one shown and another which used a celluloid button as it's center - that one is in rough shape as the button part had split with the years.

I find it quite interesting to research the history of the different companies found along the way.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'll try to post a close-up of the White in a day or two. I was lucky enough to fall into a large collection of NOS emblems and watch fobs made by Robbins Co. in Attleboro Mass. Most of these were seconds and/or rejects for one quality issue or another - this is one of those fobs - the wings are chipped.

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  • 8 months later...

This is the third one of these interesting American Austin art pieces I've seen in my 35 years of driving American Austins and Bantams, and researching the American Austin and Bantam car companies. I'm sure it's a legitimate American Austin-related piece. However, it's just not a radiator mascot. The American Austin was introduced in mid-1930 with a simple flat radiator cap. It was the least expensive car in America -- built as an economy car -- so it was not adorned with any costly extras. However, owners often drilled their caps in an attempt to mount a mascot of their choice, often ruining the caps in the process. So when the company introduced their 1932 models in late 1931, they also introduced a radiator ornament on their Deluxe coupe model. Dealers could sell them as options for $5 each. The catalogued American Austin rooster mascot (which I have on my 1932 American Austin roadster) is a nickle-plated, three-dimensional Bantam rooster with its head lowered as if to fight. The style is very realistic. Your art piece appears to be of brass (which is not used anywhere on an Austin) and is two-dimentional. Its angular lines don't blend at all with the graceful curves of the Austin body. Nevertheless, there is a logical explanation for this piece. American Austin hired a well-known advertising agency shortly after it was established in 1929 and budgeted $3 million dollars for introductory advertising. The first magazine ads (1930) featured small, stylized rooster illustrations in an art deco style similar to this brass piece. It's also likely that they designed the American Austin logo, which displays a rooster styled much like your piece. This leads me to believe that your art was created to supplement the advertising in some way. Further clues come from examining the promotional practices of American Austin dealerships. Although some were low-budget corner gas stations run on a shoe string, others sold Austins as companion cars to their primary offerings, including Marmon and other high-dollar cars. Those dealerships spent a lot of money furnishing their Austin spaces with custom, Austin-branded details. For example, the Oakland, California Austin dealership was decorated with six-sided art deco ceiling lamps that had stylized roosters cut out of the flat glass. Stylized two-dimensional roosters also capped the support columns on the walls. Other dealerships featured rooster art etched in glass. So I believe you have acquired a custom American Austin architectural fitting from one of the more ornate Austin dealerships. It's a wonderful and rare piece. It's just not a radiator mascot.

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Good observations, here are my thoughts:

My dad has had a 30 coupe in the barn since the mid 1960's - sadly we attended the 50th reunion meet in Butler in 1980 and he had a disagreement with one of the "Authorities" of the club, pushed the car into the back corner of the barn and has not looked at it since then. The shell was salvaged from his spare parts pile for my display.

I'm quite familiar with the car but no expert The ornament, currently on a Chevrolet cap, fits tightly to the only Austin cap dad has for the car - I agree that the early cap seems much rarer than the later rooster and is most likely for the reasons you mentioned. The rooster is 3 dimensional with spread wings consistent with hood ornaments of the era, and the wheel is marked on both sides which is also consistent. Brass was used for low-volume production pieces as a cost alternative to the dies required for pot-metal production - and this one appears to NOT have been a lost-wax casting, but a little less refined as are many aftermarket ornaments. It came to me from the daughter of someone who owned a junkyard in the mid 1950's who brought it home for her in that time. When I bought it the chrome plating was so badly peeling that I removed it all - there are but tiny spots of it which adhered to the brass and would not come off. Chrome may not have been used for a display piece, but definitely on a hood ornament. All that being said, I think it was a custom hood ornament made by one of the high end dealers you mention - their customers would have demanded something there, which is why the factory optional hood ornaments of the higher end cars like Pierce, Packard, & Lincoln are far more common than the later Austin one is.

I don't think there will ever be any proof to all this, but it really does not matter to me. My collection is private and nothing is for sale. As for the Rooster ornament, I like that little Banty right where he sits...

Regards,

Mark

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Mark,

Thanks for the additional background. I've been trying to get to the bottom of this mystery for years! It is interesting to know that your rooster had been chromed once upon a time. Maybe what you have really IS a radiator mascot, but we just haven't uncovered the "smoking gun" evidence yet, like a vintage photograph or a catalog illustration. Like you suggested, maybe one of the larger Austin dealers had a batch of their own mascots created. Or perhaps it was an aftermarket product that was created by an accessories company. As I recall, a similar situation happened when the first Kaisers came out. An aftermarket company offered buffalo-head hood ornaments until Kaiser came out with their own, and the buffalos are really prized by collectors now. Whatever the facts on your rooster turn out to be, you're really lucky to have it. Sad to hear about your dad's experience in Butler. Folks are bound to disagree from time to time, but even when that happens, members of any organization should conduct themselves as friendly ambassadors rather than antagonists.

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