The Owl, (Hibou in French) is one of the rarest car mascots according to most Lalique mascot dealers and collectors. Although nobody actually knows how many of the rarer mascots were produced, the fact remains that the number of known examples is much, much smaller compared to the other Lalique car mascots. These handful become available very rarely and the existence of only a small number is known.
Most Lalique experts regard the Renard (Fox) as the rarest mascot, with the Hibou coming in second place. Others include the Comète (Comet), Epsom (Horse), Tête de Belier (Ram’s Head), Tête de Paon (Peacock’s Head) and the Pintade (Guinea Hen).
The Hibou is Model Number 1181 and was produced in January, 1931. It is thought to only have been made in clear and frosted glass. The mascot is, in a word, stunning. Every detail is perfect, from the intent, wide-eyed stare of the bird to the tension in its body, crouched as if poised to take flight at any moment.
Perched on a round base, the Hibou is approximately 10 centimeters tall. Although the hood ornament may be small, its price tag is anything but. One of the highest recorded prices was attained in an Artcurial Auction in October 2013, where a Hibou sold for almost $155,000 USD.
Car mascots became popular in the years between WWI and WWII when most car designs featured a radiator cap, which was a natural perch for an ornament. The mascots began disappearing as new designs saw the radiator move underneath the hood, and as a result, there are a relatively small number of any radiator cap mascots still in existence today.
Many Lalique collectors can only dream of a full collection. Regardless of buying power, there are so few of the rarer mascots such as the Hibou on the market that they may forever elude even the most prolific collectors.
To learn more about the other Lalique car mascots and the man behind the designs, check out some of our older blog posts!