Aug 24 2016

The Michelin Wheel of Fortune Poster on the French 1905 Gordon Bennett Elimination Race Course

Eagle-eye Pau Medrano Bigas, Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Barcelona, has identified a spectacular Michelin poster in this photo of Louis Wagner participating in the French 1905 Gordon Bennett Elimination Race.


Howard Kroplick

The Michelin poster can be seen just in front of Louis Wagner's Darracq.

Professor Pau Medrano Bigas: "The story of this Michelin early poster has never been published. It is from my own research.

"Michelin Tire: The only adapting to the Wheel of Fortune" (Pneu Michelin: Le seul s'adaptant à la Roue de la Fortune) is the slogan of this poster, signed by Michels (no biographical information) and printed by Imprimerie Moderne M. De Brunoff & Cie, Paris in 1900-1903.
This is a comparative advertising poster that uses the allegory of the Wheel of Fortune. In Roman classical mythology, the goddess Fortuna embodied both good and bad luck and her main attribute was a roulette or a wheel symbolizing the randomness of existence and the capricious nature of destiny.
In the foreground of the composition we can see how the goddess Fortune (holding a palm leaf in hand as a symbol of victory) rides on a winged wheel (the Michelin, of course!). In the background of the scene, a nymph lies and looks sadly resigned to the winner, as his wheel/tube is deflated and inert.

Some Michelin modern articles made an hypothesis that the poster was designed by one of the Michelin brothers (due the "Michels" signature), but there are no real reasons to atribute it to them. I do not believe i. It is more likely it can be attributed to an artist related to the family founders of the printer and engraving house "A. Michels" (later "Michels et Fils" in Paris, active between 1860s to 1900s". But no real information about the artist who signed the poster.

Michels presented a first version of this composition to the poster competition organized in 1899 by Michelin Company in the French magazine La Revue Parisienne. The design was awarded with 100 francs and published into the magazine in black and white, remaining the property of the Michelin company. It is assumed that on behalf of Michelin, the artist adapted the idea of the Wheel of Fortune in the poster color that we know today, signing it with the monogram initial M underlined and inside a circle.
The positive iconographic image of the Winged Wheel of Fortune was adopted  early as a symbol by many manufacturers of bicycles and cars and was also present in the design of the emblems of the first automobile clubs and in the header-logotype of most of the pioneer motorsport  magazine."


Aug 25 2016 frank femenias 11:41 AM

From a previous mystery, the mystery painting on the wall gets closer to a Michelin poster!

Aug 28 2016 S. Berliner, III 10:26 AM

In the U. S., Packard most notably used the wheel held out by a wing├Ęd Victory as their radiatpr mascot ca. 1931-33.  <‘31_Packard_833_(MIAS_’10).jpg> Sam, III

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