Herman George Ascher - Red-Ashay

Herman George Ascher - Red-Ashay

[Glass-study.com 2013: Unknown Author. This article has popped up all over the www with different owners attributed.... the original with images has yet to be found....]

The internet is a great thing. About a year ago, I wrote about collecting car mascots, including those made from glass between 1915-30 by Ren Lalique, Marius-Ernest Sabino and Edmund Etling in France, and Warren Kessler and Red-Ashay in this country. The latter company was founded by Herman George Ascher, a Czech migr who set up business in Manchester in the 1920s.

I received an e-mail this week. It read: "Herman George Ascher was my grandfather, but it is only over the past few years I learned exactly who he was, and about his life. This was mainly because my grandmother was his mistress, and as he died in 1943, my dad only knew a little about him, that he was a Czech Jew and that he had a big glass company. Grandfather's cousins and other members of his family died in the Holocaust.

"Due to this I have never been able to find a photo of my grandfather even though he went around in high circles including the King of Siam. Do you happen to know of any photos of him or any newspapers that may contain any? If you could help I would be most thankful, Janet Ascher, Calgary, Canada."

How could I not offer to help? Herman George Ascher was born in 1889, in the small town Vaditz in what was then called Bohemia. He attended the technical high school in Reichenberg and worked for a firm of calico printers, bleachers and dyers, and later as an aniline colour manufacturing chemist. His work took him to Germany from September 1912 until January 1914.

Fearing the worst on the outbreak of the Great War, he emigrated to England and was placed in an internment camp in Douglas, Isle of Man, remaining there for five months. He subsequently settled in Wakefield, where he began to develop his glass importation business.

Calling on his contacts in what is now the Czech Republic, well known for high quality glass production, he formed ties with Josef Riedel's Desna factory, the largest and most famous producer, whose artists and designers produced a range of stunning and beautiful items that were exported around the world.

Ascher married Annie Clarke in 1920 and the couple moved to Acomb Street, Chorlton on Medlock, Manchester. The premises must have been quite large, but no known photo exists of the property. All of the area has now been redeveloped and is mostly part of Manchester University.

From these premises Ascher formed HG Ascher Ltd and set up the famous Red-Ashay range of products still produced today under the Desna Classic label. Among the most famous and expensive of the range of mascots at the time were Night Butterfly - also known as Butterfly Girl - and Dancing Girl.

It is thought the latter was commissioned after a continental nightclub dancer of the 1920s called Helle Nice (nee Helene Delangle) who went on to become the main racing driver for Bugatti in the 30s. It cost pounds 5 10 shillings (pounds 5.50), a considerable price at that time and probably only attracted customers who could afford a car grand enough to sport them.

Importing and retailing the high quality glass car mascots proved to be a lucrative business. By 1930, Ascher was selling a range of more than 30 mascots throughout the UK and advertising them in several national trade and motor magazines. An early example was named Acceleration and is still produced by Desna under the name The Future.

He also took stands at the major motor exhibitions in London and Edinburgh, had shops in London, Glasgow and a counter at Jenners in Edinburgh, now a John Lewis store. The London outlet at Holborn Viaduct was destroyed in the Blitz, and it's thought the Manchester base in Acomb Street was also damaged by bombing in 1940.

Many of the glass mascots were intended to be illuminated by the car's electrical system. Special nickel silver or chrome plated bonnet mounts containing a six or 12 volt bulb were made at Ascher's Ducie Drove and Acomb Street works in Manchester. They retailed at between pounds 1 guinea (pounds 1.05) to pounds 10 guineas (pounds 10.50).

A novel and interesting feature was that by means of a cylinder of multicoloured glass surrounding the bulb, the colour of the illumination could be controlled. Some had a small hand control, others a more elaborate mount with a small fan or propeller at the front; this caused the cylinder to rotate, changing the colour as the car picked up speed.

Ascher died in Manchester in April 1943 and following the end of World War II all glass factories in the Czech Republic, including the Josef Riedel factory, were nationalised. The company struggled to obtain the high quality items needed for the business and in 1952 HG Ascher Ltd was dissolved.

However, collector interest in Red-Ashay mascots remains. Several dealers and auction houses sell old originals, while new examples are produced by Desna from the original moulds used by the Josef Riedel factory.

The latter are distinguishable by the Desna signature sandblasted on the base and are accompanied by a certificate from the Czech Museum of Glass in Jablonec nad Nisou in the north of the country.


Red-Ashay glass car mascots White Horse (main), The Future (above left) and Oriental Fish (above right)

Other data for Glass-Study:


GB350442 - Improvements in illuminated mascots for motor vehicles, ornaments and other illuminated ornamental articles. 1931-06-08

350,442. Illuminated mascots &c. ASCHER, H. G., 4, Acomb Street, Chorltonon-Medlock, Manchester. March 7, 1930, No. 7547. [Class 132 (iii).] An illuminated ornament, such as a mascot for a motor vehicle, of the kind comprising a translucent ornament n mounted over an opening d in a casing b and illuminated from beneath by light reflected from a lamp e by a mirror or prism j, has the lamp disposed at a convenient distance to one side of the reflector to permit the distance from the mascot to the lamp to be increased without increasing the height of the device. A lens f is interposed between the lamp and reflector. The base of the ornament is square and is secured to the casing by a beading k and screws o.

GB356777 - Improvements in illuminated mascots for motor vehicles, ornaments and the like. 1931-09-14

356,777. Illuminated mascots. ASCHER, H. G., 4, Acomb Street, Chorltonon-Medlock, Manchester. March 14, 1930, Nos. 8334 and 12087. [Class 132 (iii).] The device comprises a translucent member secured to an opaque box by flanges or flanged members without screw threads and illuminated by a source of light secured directly to the box. A box a of metal or other material has an orifice f in which an electric lamp socket h is fixed, and is provided with a flange, or a series of inwardly turned flange members p integral with the box a or secured thereto by rivets or screws q which hold the translucent mascot r by means of the flange s of the latter. The lamp i may be particoloured, and, in a modification, Fig. 3, to enable the colours to be changed, the lamp socket g is fixed to a tube x which may be rotated by turning a handle z by hand, stops z<1> preventing more than a complete revolution. Alternatively the various colours may be obtained by controlling a number of coloured lamps from a multi-way switch. Specifications 272,403 and 309,301, [both in Class 132 (iii), Toys], are referred to.

GB372390 - Improvements in illuminated mascots, ornaments and the like. 1932-05-02

372,390. Decorative lighting. ASCHER, H. G., 4, Acomb Street, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester. Feb. 2, 1931, Nos. 3306 and 4610. [Class 75 (iv).] Lantern screens.-A translucent mascot or other ornament n is illuminated internally by a lamp h within a casing a on which it is mounted, varying colour effects being obtained by the rotation of a cylindrical or like screen u round the lamp. This screen comprises a frame having slots v in which the various coloured glass or celluloid plates ware held, and is mounted on a spindle p which passes through a bush q and terminates in a milled head r which is rotated by hand to obtain any desired setting ; locking is effected by the engagement of a pin s with any one of a number of holes t under the action of a spring x. The lamp holder e may be double-ended, the end g receiving an adaptor connected to the lead i. The ornament is located over an opening or transparent plate j in the casing, and is formed with a flange o engaged by a flanged member k which is screwed to the casing. A screw and nut attachment b, c may be provided on the device for mounting it on a car or elsewhere. The screen u may if desired be rotated continuously, either manually by means of a rack and pinion or else by electricity, clockwork, or an air-driven propeller. Specification 11112/09, [Class 3 (i), Advertising and displaying apparatus, Moving &c.], is referred to.

GB374022 - Improvements in illuminated advertisements, mascots, ornaments and the like. 1932-05-26

374,022. Lamps for ornamental illumination. ASCHER, H. G., 4, Acomb Street, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester. Feb. 26, 1931, No. 6073. [Class 75 (iv).] An advertising device, mascot, ornament, table lamp, &c. comprises an object o which is illuminated successively in different colours by one or more filters s disposed between the object o and a source of light g and rotated by a fan y located exteriorly to the colour filter. A stationary orificed screen 4 limits the light reaching the object o to one colour. The filter s may be mounted in a ring r fitted with a bevel pinion t geared to the fan y, intermittent rotation being effected by a single tooth on gear wheel u and a single tooth on gear wheel w. The fan y may be surrounded by a tunnel and protected by gauze. The object o has a flange p held by an annulus m.

GB374023 - Improvements in illuminated advertisements, mascots, ornaments and the like. 1932-05-26

374,023. Decorative lamps. ASCHER, Herman George, 4, Acomb Street, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester. Feb. 26, 1931, Nos. 6074, 9773, and 17480. [Class 75 (iv).] In a decorative lamp a mascot or the like 13 is rotated and is illuminated by light the colour of which is changed by a colour filter rotating over a stationary apertured screen 5. The mascot 13 is held on a plate 21 carrying the varicoloured filter 14, the whole being supported on the spindle 4 of a motor 2. In a modification, gearing may be introduced between the colour filter and the mascot to secure relative rotation therebetween, and the driving means for either may be put out of action independently. The colour filter may be of flat, prismatic, or cylindrical shape, and more than one may be employed. Manual, clockwork, electric motor, suction, or fan operating means may rotate the filter.

AT131216  (B) Beleuchtungskörper für Ornamente od. dgl. ― 1933-01-10

No abstract.

CH151802  (A)  Beleuchtungsvorrichtung für Artikel aus durchsichtigem Material. ― 1931-12-31

No abstract.