Vespa – Ca c’est formidable (It’s Great!), 1955. Artist: D Ambrose
In 1955, the high-energy French actor and singer Gilbert Becaud released the hit song titled C’est Formidable! (That’s Great!). It was a perfect marketing opportunity for Vespa to create a hip poster campaign. The poster shows the singer nimbly mounting the scooter as if it were a skateboard (a recently minted pastime itself, at the publication of this poster). The background was equally hip, with Vespa’s patented pastel colors in asymmetrical, intersecting shapes that echo Mid-Century furniture design. Fantastique!
Vespa, or Wasp in English, was named in 1946 for its narrow waist, high-pitched engine and antenna-like handlebar. The product was perfectly suited for the war-torn country, where consumer budgets and poor roads made larger vehicles impractical.
In 1952, the vehicle’s popularity skyrocketed when Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck teamed up on a Vespa in Roman Holiday. By 1956, 1 million Vespas had been sold. The Vespa survives today as one of the most fun products on two wheels.
This neat advertising display was intended for pharmacy storefronts selling VALDA Pellets – ‘to prevent and treat cough, colds, sore throats, laryngitis, bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma.’ For healthier ‘air, breath, lungs, muscles.’
If it’s good enough to keep this athletic acrobat going it’s gotta be good for those just taking in air.
The acrobat gets into his swing. The clown’s in position to spot.
The acrobat comes over the bar backwards and releases for a one-hand grip. His clown buddy enthuses for the viewers.
A view from the top.
This display is an electric sheet-iron lithographed piece. One can really appreciate the thought and craftsmanship put into these automaton displays. Apparently someone did in a real way – this particular item sold on auction for €1,298.00 ($1,458.17).
Bandai toys from Japan created a classic tin toy for the ages – the 1950s Space Patrol Super Cycle.
This friction powered futuristic cycle zips forward while the front fender mounted radar antenna rotates…
…and sparks emit from the gel over the back tire lighting up the red exhaust. Check out those rear fins too.
This particular Space Patrol Cycle includes the original hard rubber spaceman driver – he’s a bit cracked but he’s a rare find in any condition. He’s missing his clear plastic dome helmet – but seems to be doing fine without it.
The Super Cycle also has a working compass mounted between the handlebars – this pic gives a look at the some of the neat litho art too. All very cool.
On 30 May 2015 Morphy Auctions had this little beauty up for bids. Its estimated value was between $12,000 – $18,000. When all was said and done the final winning bid (with buyer’s premium) came to the lovely amount of $17,500.
A person could have purchased a human sized cycle for that chunk-o’-change. But then it wouldn’t be a 1950s Bandai Space Patrol Super Cycle now would it.