INTRODUCTION

This booklet records the text and illustrations of the lecture given on Thursday, April 7, 2011 at Rydges Hotel in Canberra during “The Centenary of the Spirit of Ecstasy Rally” of the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club of Australia.

The Rally Director, Ian Irwin, asked me to display and discuss the Spirit of Ecstasy mascots I have collected since the formation of our club on June 6, 1956. Back then, I owned a Rolls-Royce 20 H.P. GDK35 but it did not have a mascot. George Green, a fellow foundation member of the RROCA, allowed me to copy his kneeling Silver Dawn mascot. I used dental duplication jelly to make a wax pattern which was then cast in brass. I later learned that this was the technique used by the creator of the original ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’, Charles Sykes. He made the mascots and sold them to Rolls-Royce Limited from 1911 to 1928. His daughter Josephine (Jo) Phillips (nee Sykes) took his place from 1928 to 1939. The mascots were, over this period, always an optional extra and recorded as such on the sales cards.

In 1957 we sold our 20H.P. and left for overseas. After six months in the U.K, we moved to Rochester, N.Y. where I was to undertake post-graduate study. Before our departure from Australia, our club appointed me a vice-president so I could liaise with the U.K.’s 20-Ghost Club and the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club of America. This official status was very helpful, as we were made Honorary Members of the 20-Ghost Club and, later, we were made most welcome in the U.S.A. by John McFarlane, inaugural editor of the RROC Inc. journal ‘The Flying Lady’. He and his Advertising Editor, John Utz, both lived in Rochester. The U.K. and the U.S. experiences provided me with many opportunities to learn more about the mascot.

In 1960 John McFarlane asked me to write an article on the mascot for ‘The Flying Lady’. He arranged for R-R Ltd to supply photographs from the mascot collection of Stanley Sears’, the 20-Ghost Club President. He also obtained the hand-written lecture notes used by Jo Phillips for her lecture about the mascot to the UK’s Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club in December, 1959. My article appeared in TFL pp. 502-506, July 1961. I up-dated and extended this article in Praeclarum 2-07 to 5-07 and in ‘The Flying Lady’ 07-2 to 07-3. It can be found at rroc.org.au in the ‘General Library’ section.

I have been able to continue my mascot studies through the kindness of many colleagues, who have, over the years, allowed me to copy their interesting or unusual mascots on the basis of one for them and one for my collection. In the meantime, these owners can use the copy mascot on their cars and leave the original safe at home. Barrie Gillings


These are the important players in the creation of the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot, also called ‘The Flying Lady, “Emily”, ‘Nellie’ and other names and which was introduced on 6th Feb 1911.


This is Eleanor Thornton with 1910 Silver Ghost 1404. It was then owned by John, the second Lord Montagu of Beaulieu and, although pre-dating the Spirit of Ecstasy mascot, was the first car to wear one. SG 1404 is now owned by Ian Irwin, who has completed a long-term restoration.



John Scott Montagu was a prominent early motorist and motoring publisher, closely associated with Rolls-Royce Ltd. He opened their new factory in Derby in 1909.





Eleanor Thornton was assistant to Claude Johnson until he joined with Rolls and Royce as managing director. Eleanor was then taken on as private secretary to Lord Montagu




Claude Johnson was a prominent early motorist and secretary to the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland (later the Royal Automobile Club) but joined Rolls in business in 1901. He brought Rolls and Royce together in1904.



Charles Sykes was an artist and sculptor, who painted motoring scenes for John Montagu and R-R Ltd and in 1910 was selected by Johnson to sculpt a mascot suitable for Rolls-Royce motorcars. He made them for R-R from February 6th, 1911 until his daughter took over manufacture in 1928.


Jo(Josephine) Phillips (nee Sykes), an artist in her own right, supervised mascot manufacture from 1928 until end of production in 1939.




John Montagu published motoring books. His book on driving is trite today but, at the time, must have been invaluable for would-be motorists. It carried advertisements for ‘Roads Made Easy’, ‘Alice in Motorland’ and ‘The Motor Pirate’, and these show the close relationships between John Montagu, Claude Johnson and Charles Sykes.



Claude Johnson’s experience as a motorist is clear from this book, much of it gained by his competition driving and job as Secretary to the Automobile Club. Montagu edited the book.




Charles Sykes’ artistic skills were used in Montagu’s publications, and also by Claude Johnson in R-R Ltd advertising, especially their ‘Rolls-Royce Catalogue 1910-1911’ promoting the Silver Ghost. This is now a collectors’ item, with six Charles Sykes’ paintings showing the Silver Ghost in such high society scenes as: Arrival at the Opera... The Country House...The Golf Links...The Meet ...The Covert Side.



Mascots Sculptured by Sykes

The Whisper (or Whisperer) was made by Sykes as a gift for John Montagu. Several copies were made, including a large version. It has been interpreted as a demonstration of the silence of R-R motor cars, or alternatively, as a symbol of the secret romance between Montagu and his secretary, Eleanor Thornton who bore him a daughter.


The Whisper (or Whisperer) was made by Sykes as a gift for John Montagu. Several copies were made, including a large version. It has been interpreted as a demonstration of the silence of R-R motor cars, or alternatively, as a symbol of the secret romance between Montagu and his secretary, Eleanor Thornton who bore him a daughter.



The Mystery is a real mystery. Although apparently designed as a car mascot, it is far too tall to be practical. Occasional copies appear at auctions and sell for high prices.


The Spirit of Ecstasy is Sykes’ most famous creation. It was entered by R-R Ltd in a competition held in Paris in 1920 to find the World’s best motor car mascot and won first prize and a suitably inscribed gold medal.



“Is my mascot original?

This is the most common question asked by owners. The answer hinges on what one defines as ‘original’. It is obvious that Sykes’ master models are ‘original’. From these he made ‘copies’, usually four. He then used these as ‘masters’ to make agar jelly moulds from which in turn he cast wax patterns to be used to make castings. He then polished these castings and sold them to R-R Ltd to be put on cars. Almost everyone would call these last ‘original’, even though they are copies of copies of Sykes ‘original sculpture’. This is a cabinet in the hallway of Beaulieu Abbey in 1961. Sykes made the middle sculpture as a trophy for the 1903 Gordon Bennett Race. On the left is a Whisper car mascot, now owned by Edward, Lord Montagu. On the right is a large Spirit of Ecstasy. These can be assumed to be ‘original’.


But Edward Montagu made copies of the Whisper in aluminium, mounted on marble, and sold them as “exact facsimiles”. Should we call these ‘originals’ or are they ‘original facsimiles’?



The ‘original’ Whisper (Whisperer) photographed on Edward Montagu’s 82UG in 1957




The most iconic of all the Spirits of Ecstasy are the showroom versions, of which there were originally six, 22 inches (560 mm) high, on marble bases, and displayed in RR showrooms in London, Paris, New York, Madrid, Berlin and possibly Buenos Aires. This one, on the right, is shown in the R-R Conduit Street London showrooms and is sure to be ‘original’. So, too, must have been those in the other showrooms. But today, there are copies everywhere, many of them of poor quality, and they are certainly NOT original. Large versions of the Whisper also exist. One was offered by Edward Montagu as a prize in a motoring competition. This is another, in the home of an American enthusiast.

The same enthusiast also purchased a very large Spirit of Ecstasy from a U.S. Rolls-Royce dealership. Should these last two sculptures be called ‘original’? Furthermore, does it matter?


Is it acceptable to put a mascot on your pre 1911 Silver Ghost?