This last week I acquired two Dodge ram hood ornaments from eBay. Different vendors, separate transactions. I have not obtained a new Dodge (or Plymouth or Chrysler) hood ornament in over a year. This doubled my pre-war Dodge examples, those being the harder to find and more expensive to purchase.
The first of these two purchases was a radiator cap ornament. Exposed radiator caps were ubiquitous in the 1920s, became more ornate in the early thirties and before the end of that decade were enclosed under an engine cover and replaced by the hood ornaments that ruled the road in the forties and fifties. My research indicates that this design was used on 1931 through'34 Dodge automobiles. I believe that this example was Dodge's first use of the ram logo to represent the toughness and dependability of their automobiles. The point of one horn is broken off, but otherwise this guy is in really good shape. Corrosion is minimal, but it is clear that this is the genuine article. The base still had the locking mechanism that held it onto the fill-spout of the radiator.
This one arrived this morning and appears to be a 1935 Dodge hood ornament, but it is made of solid brass. The brass era of automobiles ended with the 1920s. Hood ornaments in the thirties were made of pot-metal, a non-ferrous amalgam of lighter weight metal that would not rust. Also, the indentations on this example appear to be hand tooled. So I suspect that this is a reproduction, but an early reproduction because it shows evidence of use and weathering. Whatever the case, I am very glad to have it.
[Left} As the '30s ended, Dodge decided to move their product up market by bringing out a more luxurious model, the Luxury Liner. Notice that the ram ornament above is slightly more stylized than its predecessors. The horns no longer curl out into the air, but are tight against the head - with horizontal lines inside the curl (??). And the rear legs are more stylized with no tail or hooves as in earlier examples.
[Right} With the new decade there was almost a quantum leap into stylization. If you were not familiar with Dodge's past ornaments, I am not sure most people would recognize this as a ram. This design came in two versions: all-metal chrome-plated and one with a clear acrylic fin down the top. This example had a typically scarred and chipped Lucite fin, so I reproduced it in wood. When private cars went back into production in 1946, there were no more sculptures of realistic rams - stylization was in. Other manufacturers would use stylized ships, trains and airplanes through the 1950s. (Not to mention nude women)
I am still trying new show venues to find those that provide the most effective exposure for my works.