Paradise by the Vintage Bejewelled Dashboard Light

One of the most rewarding aspects of working with a large collection of artifacts is the opportunity of learning, first hand, about objects and items that were once so commonplace and have, since, fallen into the depths of time.

Certainly, finding an item that makes you exclaim “What the heck is this?” aloud can add excitement to any work day! This happens more often than expected when working in our artifact storage vault.

Sometimes these items can be creepy…Refer to Exhibit A…

Exhibit A : Creepy findings in the WDHM Artifact Vault

…sometimes they can be rather unique and intriguing. Anything colourful and flashy can be instantly eye catching. This was the case when finding artifact 1991.002.001 (Exhibit B).

Exhibit B

Wrapped in acid free tissue on a shelf in the vault was a very small round hollow metal item with many coloured jewels over the outer surface.

Hmmm. Is this a broken artifact, fragment of another object, some sort of weird jewellery, I wonder?

As Collections Manager can sometimes be a misunderstood job, I often get asked about how I work and what I do, or specifically, how I research items as it must be hard to find information on a lot of the smaller things. I will admit that it can prove to be a challenge and take some time to articulate ‘mystery’ objects of the past or fragments of artifacts. Finding the results and answers is the light at the end of the tunnel, or vault, as it were!

My findings of the shiny bejewelled metal scrap led me to the interesting notion of the importance of ‘pimping your ride’ 1920s style. Our small glitzy item is a dashboard lamp cap circa mid-1920s.

Before the age of radium glowing instruments or automatic and LED car lights, dashboards, as simple as they were, had no means of illumination. The dashboard light provided improved visibility of such things as the speedometer. As is custom in our society, surely there had to be some kind of add-on to make an ordinary thing more exciting…

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of


Photo courtesy of

The dashboard lamp cap was easy to add or remove and could provide just the right amount of romance to your ride! Imagine wooing your gal in your model T with a mini pre-disco style light, or your favourite roadster shining his dashboard light on your sheer thin pantyhose.

Losing the luxury of the glamorous dash lamp has gone unnoticed in our advances into glowing interiors and, if you’re lucky cup holders, cruise control, and fancy elaborate air fresheners. Although I would love to have a fun party dashboard light, the only lights that pop up in my car are ones I don’t understand, which can be interpreted in the following picture:


Photo Courtesy of


Delis Hill, Daniel. Advertising to the American Woman, 1900-1990. Accessed at




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