Signed Accessory Mascots
by Tony Wraight, collector & dealer of fine art.

Andre Michelin:  Smoking Mr. Bibendum.

Mr. Bibendum (Michelin Man) standing on one leg and smoking, his arm held out with his finger pointing.  This 120mm high figure is the earliest and rarest of all Bibendum advertising mascots.  It was exclusively sold by Auto Omnia in Paris for 25 French Francs in 1910.  It is a much slimmer version than the more rounded figures used after WW I and to the present day.

The piece is superbly finished in a silvered bronze, with factory intaglio stampings Bibendum and Protégé.  An interesting point to note is that in 2002 Bibendum celebrates 70 years without a smoke!  From 1929 Michelin took steps to curb Bibendum's smoking habit in line with the company's policy of limiting tuberculosis, but he still had periodic lapses until he finally gave up smoking in 1932, after which he rapidly achieved his more rotund image!

Bibendum was born from a stack of tyres on a stand at the 1894 Lyon exhibition and from the ingenious intuition of Andre Michelin, who saw it as the silhouette of a man and managed to breathe life into it.  His motto was nunc est bibendum, or The tyre that drinks up obstacles, a reference to the ability of Michelin tyres to absorb obstacles without puncturing.