You Had Me at Scarab

4 02 2017

Journey’s album cover for Captured, 1981. Scarabs within scarabs within scarabs…..

Thank you Journey and Stanley Mouse.



Up and Away

23 04 2016

Egyptianizing themes are found more frequently than expected in transportation-related advertising applications. For example, this 1940s ad from the Warner Aircraft Corporation, which announces the opening of their new “Scarab” engine plant. There is no reference explaining this choice of iconography, but I suppose one might draw a correlation to the Egyptian god Khepera, who was believed to push the sun on its course through the sky.

Warner engines ad-large

Purr-fectly Timeless

26 10 2015

Cartier introduced their ‘les must’ collection c. 2009 – which featured modernized scarabs. See what I mean about Egyptomania being so random? Not necessarily always linked to major events, never mainstream, but ALWAYS popping up over and over again throughout our history.

Cartier ad-small

Before the Hustle….

19 02 2015

…there was the Fox Trot, a ragtime invention that lasted well into future decades. Although I try to limit my collection to American items, I could not resist this sheet music from a London publisher. Gyptia was composed in 1920 and the cover art is a fun melange of ancient symbols and figures getting their shimmy on.

Gyptia sheet music

Don’t Be Fooled By Imitations

13 08 2012

Scarab jewelry was quite the fashion statement during the 1950s.  Etched glass, plastic, or semi-precious stone beetles were arranged in various setting styles, ranging from the more common oval to filigree and botanical forms.  Most arrangements included an array of colors.  Burt Cassell was one of the leading designers producing higher-quality scarab pieces, as pictured in this advertisement.  Also pictured are two pins, the first by Cassell and the other unmarked.

Pimp My Lodge

9 07 2011

This early 1920s ad (detail shown) from the De Long Furniture Company must have had their phones ringing off the hook.  Velvet thrones, gilt podiums, winged scarab light fixtures – what self-respecting Grand Poobah wouldn’t want to trick out his lodge room with such dope furnishings?

The Chariot of the Future

22 05 2011

Introducing the Stout Scarab – one of the most revolutionary, and thus extinct, vehicles of all time.  This detail is taken from a 1936 ad that reads:
“The challenge: Created after a decade of aircraft and automotive research, the Scarab rear-engine motor car comes as a friendly but direct challenge to the necessary conservatism of the big-production motor car manufacturers.  The Scarab expresses Vision vs. Conservatism; Functional Design vs. Traditional Design; Individuality vs. Standardization; Fine Craftsmanship vs. Mass Production.  Produced by a group whose soundness of experience and engineering finesse is thoroughly established, the obvious “rightness” of the Scarab design is its greatest challenge.
The prophecy: The new Scarab will set all future styles in motor cars.  The following features now exclusive to the Scarab, will be adopted by all makers of fine cars within three years.  These features mark the final departure of motor car engineering from all horse-and-buggy tradition:
Engine in the rear – Unit body, no chassis – Inside floor area: 7’6″ x 5’7″ – Running board and hood space usable inside body – Loose chairs, adjustable to all positions – Rear davenport seat convertible to full-length couch – Card and dining table – New, full-vision driver’s position – Thermostatically controlled heat – Forced, draftless ventilation, with rain, dust and insect filter – Fully insulated against sound and temperature – Smooth body lines minimizing wind noises – Concealed, recessed rear window – Grill-enclosed headlights – Electric door locks, no projecting handles – Flush-type hinges – Exceptionally long wheelbase for overall length (no overhang) – Minimum unsprung weight – Soft, individual springing of all wheels – Less weight on front axle for easier steering – Maximum brakes at rear, not front, for safe, rapid deceleration – Slanted windows, no reflections.  Production for 1936 will be limited to 100 cars.  Priced from five thousand dollars, f.o.b. Dearborn, Michigan.  Demonstration upon invitation only.”
Check out this website for some awesome photos, and more history, of this truly remarkable vehicle.

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