Posted 8 months ago
The "Spirit of Ecstasy" designed by Charles Robinson Sykes and is instantly recognised as the emblem of Rolls Royce motorcars.
I was saving this post up "for a rainy day" when not much was going on, but I'm posting it now as a somewhat quirky way of saying "thank you" to another CW collector and thoroughly nice person; whom we all know as "scandinavian_pieces" ;) The real Golden Gal! Cheers Scandi ;)
The "Spirit of Ecstasy" Rolls Royce emblem or "mascot" can be made of highly polished stainless steel, or stainless with a sterling silver plate or 24-carat gold plate, the sterling silver and gold being optional extras. As a sculpture in it's own right it has been cast in all manner of metals from "spelter" through bronze to silver to solid 9ct gold like this example, (which was cast for a wealthy vintage car owner, and until his demise it actually adorned the bonnet or hood of a vintage Rolls Royce motorcar. Most who saw it, thought it gold plated!)
This one was purchased many years ago by myself for my wife. It is perhaps now her most "cherished" of all the collectables she has in her eclectic collections. Weighing in at a "gnats wisker" over 350 grams and in 9ct gold it is certainly one of the most valuable (apart from our motorcycles). It was bought at auction where there was a VERY lively bidding war before I managed to secure it! (THEY were going to melt it down!)
Before I presented it to my wife, I persuaded a close fiend to "turn" a base for it in beautiful wood. Tony had taken up "turning" stunning wooden bowls as recuperation from dreadful injuries he sustained whilst a serving Police Officer. We could have designed a smaller plinth for "Emily" to stand on but with her weight it needed quite a considerable block of wood to give good stability! It took Rachel some time to get used to the plinth, but now she loves it; seeing allsorts of things in the beautiful grain of the beeswax polished wood! (try and spot the flamenco dancer with her arms raised!) The general opinion on the base or plinth is very much divided "for & against"!
With thanks to Wikipedia; here is some History & Background:
The Spirit of Ecstasy, also called "Emily", "Silver Lady" or "Flying Lady", was designed by Charles Robinson Sykes and carries with it a story about a secret passion between John Walter Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu, (second Lord Montagu of Beaulieu after 1905, a pioneer of the automobile movement, and editor of The Car Illustrated magazine from 1902) and his secret love and the model for the emblem, Eleanor Velasco Thornton. Eleanor was John Walter's secretary, and their love was to remain hidden, limited to their circle of friends, for more than a decade. The reason for the secrecy was Eleanor's impoverished social and economic status, which was an obstacle to their love. John-Walter, succumbing to family pressures, married Lady Cecil Victoria Constance, but the secret love affair continued.
Eleanor died on 30 December 1915 when the SS Persia, on which she accompanied Lord Montagu on his journey to India, was torpedoed off Crete by a German submarine, four years after she had been immortalized by her lover.
When Montagu commissioned his friend Sykes to sculpt a personal mascot for the bonnet of his Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, Sykes chose Eleanor Thornton as his model. Sykes originally crafted a figurine of her in fluttering robes, pressing a finger against her lips - to symbolise the secrets of their love. The figurine was consequently named The Whisper and is on display at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu (UK) along with other Spirit of Ecstasy figurines.
The very first Rolls-Royce motorcars did not feature radiator mascots; they simply carried the Rolls-Royce emblem. This, however, was not enough for their customers who believed that such a prestigious vehicle as a Rolls-Royce motorcar should have its own luxurious mascot, and by 1910 personal mascots had become the fashion of the day. Rolls-Royce were concerned to note that some owners were affixing "inappropriate" ornaments to their cars. Claude Johnson, then managing director of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, was asked to see to the commissioning of something more suitably dignified and graceful.
He turned to Charles Sykes, a young artist friend and a graduate of London's Royal College of Art, to produce a mascot which would adorn all future Rolls-Royce cars and become generic to the marque, with the specifications that it should convey "the spirit of the Rolls-Royce, namely, speed with silence, absence of vibration, the mysterious harnessing of great energy and a beautiful living organism of superb grace."