Unsung but Essential Icons

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As I control the creative direction of Aestheticons I choose what’s featured. Largely that means that I chose aspirational gems. However, instead of looking up in awe and appreciation we need to consider the more mundane.

The items featured in this piece are neither glamorous, alluring – unless you are into the really weird – nor really do anything in excess of their primary function. At that, they are superlative and without them elements of our busy lives would be a struggle. They are Unsung – not enjoying massive Instagram accounts with millions of adoring followers – but Essential Icons.

Cable ties

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I defy anyone who derives the smallest amount of pleasure from tending a garden, to fix a plant to a trellace or a bamboo cane or a brush screening to a gate without the use of a cable tie. Not only can this devilishly small but wonder strips of plastic fixing be a the gardener’s friend, they, with equal competence, support the work of electrician, plumbers and builders and many others in thousands of conceived and yet to be conceived ways.

Known as originally as Ty-Rap, cable ties were first invented, primarily to secure airplane wiring into the bulkhead, in 1958 by US based electrical business Thomas & Betts and more particularly their employee, Maurus C. Logan. Mr Logan developed into production the idea he’d conceived of aboard a Boeing during construction. The Patent was submitted on 24th June 1958.

Why not add to your tool drawer with this Amtech selection of 500 cable ties? Click the AMAZON link below the image

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Amtech S0680 Assorted Cable Tie, 500-Piece

WD40

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As our readers know I Like to cycle but over the winter months my bike has a tendency to be a little neglected and exposed to the elements. When the cooler seasons have done their worst on my waistline the time is right to look for the foot pump and adaptor and get some air into those bike tyres. The tyres are only half the battle. The gears, brakes and chain scream out for the TLC that can only be lavished on them by WD40 the spray delivered a light penetrating, protecting and lubricating oil.

As the saying goes a “Sucess has many Fathers” and there appears to be some controversy as to originator of WD-40. It seems that the formula of WD-40 was developed in 1953 by The Rocket Chemical Company in San Diego, California and first produced in commercially available quantities in 1958. The contributions – depending on sources – of a Iver Norman Lawson and a Norman Larson (President of Rocket) are named as the “inventor” of the formula with the name WD-40 seemingly stemming from the expression “Water Displacement  40th Formula” – suggesting there may have been a 39th, 38th and so on versions of the formula.

It may be that Lawson invented the low viscosity formula – still a trade secret but still has the original and distinctive smell – and sold it to Rocket where Larson had the bright idea of putting it into aerosol cans. It arrived in the UK in the late 1960’s.

For those many jobs around the home or office for which only WD-40 will do, why not pick up a can or two by clicking the AMAZON link below the image?

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3 x WD-40 Smart Straw Aerosol 420ml Penetrant, Lubricant, Releasant Oil / Stops squeaks / Cleans and protects / Loosens rusted parts / Frees sticky mechanisms

Paper Clips

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As a lawyer I am very pro the paper-less office, technology can teach us loads about sensible digital storage and retrieval. In parking our fears and posting to the Cloud we make a statement that’s more about efficiency and less about tree hugging.

For years we relied on the trust paper clip to secure our files, ensure correct attachments to letters and avoid inevitable embarrassment on a windy day. Called a “Trombone” in French, a literal use that I find very appealing, the simple paper clip does exactly what the tin says.

History tells us that in the US on April 23rd 1867 Samuel B. Fay successfully obtained the first Patent for a bent wire paper clip. On November 7th 1899 William D Middlebrook obtained a Patent for a paper clip making machine that produced an item – made popular as the “Gem Paper Clip” which went on sale in the UK in the 1870’s – and are similar to those sold today. The name Gem – trademarked in the US by Cushman and Denison in 1904 – became known Worldwide and in Sweden, I am told, that the word for paper clip is “Gem”.

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No desk is complete without a selection of plastic coated paper clips – please click the AMAZON link below the image to get yours.

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Zealor Paper Clips with Assorted Colors and Sizes (28 mm, 50 mm, 100 mm)

Image Credits – with grateful thanks – http://www.officemuseum.com, Zealor and the WD-40 Company Inc.

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MGB

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I was flattered to be asked to contribute To the January-February 2018 edition of The London Magazine – the Capital’s oldest. I was asked to write their 25th “My London” piece which you can see here please – My London by Mark FR Wilkins . I refer to one of London’s tribes, as a  “typical” MGB owner. I suggest that this still holds largely true, despite that the owner may now be in his 70’s although the corduroy’s will still be worn!

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These are adored British cars that have even described by Simon Chalesworth in his brilliant piece on the MGB in February 2018’s “Classic and Sports Car”, as the “gateway drug into whatever this is that we do with old cars”. I understand, that a good quality example of an MGB can be acquired at reasonable cost and by a proficient mechanic or a hired hand it can be up, running and looking fine in reasonably short order and comparable cost.

The MGB is a four cylinder, two-door British roadster – open topped/rag roofed sports car – produced by British Motor Corporation, later British Leyland, between 1962 and 1980, from its famed Abingdon (Oxfordshire) works. It used braking and suspension from the MGA and the engine dated to a design from the late 1940’s.

A previous outing of the MG brand was seen in Aestheticons with the MGA – please see here our previous piece – MG – MGA

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The MGA is a stunner and I thought it couldn’t be surpassed but those who know tell me that the MGB is infinitivly more fun and certainly a greater level of comfort – particularly later models – over its predecessor. The Sunbeam Alpine, also featured here before, seems to have set an newly raised bar one that the MGB sought to attain –  see our earlier post here – Sunbeam Alpine – Bond’s first car

Below is an MGB Mk 1, in Tartan red with a black interior and red piping. It was built in Abingdon in February 1963 and was an early car; the MGB being first shown to the market in September 1962. This car, a stunning example, is Norwegian owned and had 22 previous owners!

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The MGB with its 1798 cc BMC B-Series engine – which was upgraded in 1964 and again in 1967 – initially achieved a 0–60 is around 11 seconds but required detuning in 1975 to be comply to stricter US emission standards, the US being a key export market – you’ll note our featured image is a left hooker. The same year the MGB, which was one of the first cars to benefit from crumple zone technology, was fitted with black polyurethane bumpers to comply yet further with the US Health & Safety codes – some see these as a blight the MGB’s otherwise clean lines and great looks.

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Variants including the MGB GT – which first appeared in 1965 – the MkII MGB and MGC that both appeared in late 1967 with the latter benefitting from a six cylinder engine in a MkII MGB body. With around 9000 examples of the MGC made by August 1969 it was withdrawn and is highly regarded by collectors for its ride and handling.
 In 1993-5 the MGB bodyshell was brought out of retirement by Rover and used for a limited 2000 MG RV8 roadsters to celebrate the MGB’s 30th Anniversary.
As much as I adore these splendid small English sports car my garage is destined for others. I’d be more than keen to have a die-cast model of an MGB on the shelf in my Man Cave – join me by clicking the Amazon link below the image! 

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MG B MGB Cabrio grün Modellauto 10002 T9 1:43

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Photo credits with grateful thnaks – Trygve Sørli/www.petrolicious.com, The London Magazine, Marc Vorgers,

Airfix by Dominic Baker

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The unmistakable logo that is Airfix will instantly conjure up many very happy memories for some. Fathers, sons and grandfathers all over the U.K. ( and probably further a field). Tables full of newspaper, Radio 4 or the test match cricket on in the background – pouring over the assembly instructions whilst over enthusiastic offspring looked on, frantically chiselling the super-glue off fingers and surfaces before mother got home.

Airfix was founded in 1939 by Hungarian refugee Nicholas Kove – who originally set out to make rubber inflatable toys. The name ‘Airfix’ was very cleverly selected so as the company would come up first in directory searches and had little to do with the products they made at the time. The company introduced injection moulding in 1947 initially to make pocket combs. They were asked to make a scaled replica promotional model of a Ferguson Brown TE20 tractor moulded in cellulose acetate (the plastic often used, at the time, in glasses frames and photographic film) this to be distributed and hand assembled by the Ferguson sales reps.

The tractor went on to be sold by Woolworth retail stores as a kit and in 1954 a Woolworth’s buyer J Russon suggested that Airfix produce a model of “The Golden Hind”. It was made and put in a plastic bag with headed paper with assembly instructions on the reverse and sold for two shillings.

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This became an instant hit and galvanised Airfix into producing new designs with the first Aircraft kit in 1953 of the super-marine Spitfire and then the MK IX Spitfire in 1955 which was a 1/72 scale , it was thought that the new models would bomb in popularity but history has proved otherwise.

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In the 1960s & 70s the interest in the hobby grew exponentially, as did the range of models with vintage motorcycles, cars, space rockets, jets, trains and famous ships. Airfix produced a monthly modelling magazine full of their latest products from 1960 until 1993. In 1963 Airfix tried to compete with Scalextric to produce raceable models but this was shelved.

The 1970s are considered Airfix’s heyday. They produced much larger scale models and ramped up production to 17 different new models a year. At its peak 20m kits were  distributed worldwide and Airfix had 75% of the modelling business in the UK. During this era Airfix acquired Meccano and Dinky Toys to become the UK’s largest toy company.

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The 1980s saw a decline in sales, work place streamlining was met by industrial action, and with a strong £ sales to foreign markets collapsed. Eventually, Airfix filed for bankruptcy in 1981 and was bought by General Mills and then again by a Borden Group/Humbrol in 1986 itself entering liquidation in 2006 when Hornby, the British company that owned of Scalextric, acquired Airfix.

Airfix will always have a place in many peoples heart , the satisfaction of seeing all of its neatly arranged components come together to form such a splendid looking model became an addiction to some with many fine hours spent glueing , painting and, of course, saving up for that one model that would complete your set!

Please click the following link to buy your AIRFIX SPITFIRE on AMAZON  Airfix 1:48 Scale Supermarine Spitfire Mk.I Model Kit

If you’ve enjoyed Dominic’s piece please see Concorde by Dominic Baker

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Images courtesy of Airfix

Porsche 911 Targa

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The Porsche Targa has the distinct characteristic of being is a semi-convertible car body style with a removable roof section and a full width roll bar behind the seats. The term was first used on the 1966 with the launch of the classic Porsche 911 Targa and the name, “Targa”, remains a registered trademark of Porsche AG.

The Porsche 911 coupe first debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1963. Designed by Ferry Porsche, the son of the Porsche founder and his cousin, Ferdinand Piech, who developed the air-cooled flat-six engine. Launched as the 901, an objection from Peugeot who claimed naming rights to any three digit configuration with a zero in the middle resulted in Porsche renaming their new car the “911”.

Ferry on the launch of the Targa in 1965 described the car thus – “The Targa is neither a coupe nor a convertible”.

It is said that Porsche got the name, “Targa”, from the Targa Florino, a famous Sicilian road race. In Italian and Castellano, the word “Targa” means “number-plate”.

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The Targa style roof opening became popular in the 1960s and 1970s, resulting from fears that the US Department of Transportation (DOT) may ban convertibles because of safety concerns for the occupants should a car overturn.

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Over the years Porsche designs have varied. In 1996 the Porsche 993 Targa featured a retractable glass roof a design that continued into the 996 and 997 models. The glass roof retracted underneath the rear window revealing a large sky-facing opening. For me, in the earlier models of this style this gives the windscreen an almost too high pitch that affects the overall aesthetics of the car.

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The car received criticism as it was descriebed as a “coupe with a gigantic sun roof” – simply not what Porsche had intended and perhaps too far away from the core of this iconic car?

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With the introduction and production of more recent 911 Targa, including the Type 991, Porsche decided to take the latest Targa in a different direction from that of the previous water-cooled Type 996/997 cars.

Is 2014 car has somewhat returned to its earliest Targa roots by the utilizing of a solid roof panel spanning over the front seats which was mechanized for automated lift-away and storage under the rear glass roof, which itself is mechanized to lift up and out of the way as the roof panel is placed into its stowed position.

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Porsche seem to have decided that life should imitate art having produced a Targa that seems to take some design cues from a rather sophisticated toy from the late 1970’s. When I worked in the Christmas Holidays between University terms, I got myself a job at the now defunct Army & Navy Stores – a department store in Guilford (Surrey UK) in their Toy Department. I worked for a company called Bandai who were the licensees in the UK of the Transformer toy series. Those of you with either long memories or younger kids will know that Transformers were an amazing toy that “transformed” from a car to a Robot – for example – and subsequently has become a very successful film franchise. The range of car Transformers that I was selling – and I did hugely well outselling all other assistants – included a Porsche 911 in grey that transformed into a robot with green eyes. I still have one.

In August 2016 – the 50th Anniversary of its first Targa – Porsche announced an “Etna” blue Porsche Exclusive of the 911 Targa 4S Exclusive Design Edition – a collector’s edition!

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The 2018 version is here – quite possibly one of the most beautiful modern era Porsche Targas made.

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STOP PRESS

Our friends from Class Driver have recently posted the most remarkable film made by the Porsche Club of America about a secretive collection of over 65 Porsche cars dating from the late 1950’s to date each car being not only in pristine condition but all are uniquely painted white.

Enjoy the film here White Porsche Collection 

I defy any Porsche fan can control their passion for these fantastic vehicles – even a beautiful die-cast model should satiate some of the “must have one” moment. I have found the perfect two die-cast models – please click the Amazon link below the image in each case:

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Schuco 450035400 1:18 Scale Porsche 911 S Targa – 1972″ Model Car

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Porsche 911 (991) Targa 4S Metallic Blue 1: 18

You will need a range of various mechanical skills to maintain your 911 – built between 1965 -1989 – but you’ll also need a Haynes Manual – please click the Amazon link below the image

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Porsche 911, 1965-89 Coupe, Targa and Cabriolet Automotive Repair Manual (Haynes Automotive Repair Manuals)

The role of a Porsche in our lives cannot be understated. So celebrate your passion with this colourful T shirt – please click on the Amazon link below the image

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Dressdown Box 964 T 12 Colour Grid – Mens T-Shirt – White – XL

If you liked this post please “Like” and share it with your friends. We’d really like to hear your experiences of the subject(s) featured in this post. Please share them below in the “Leave a Reply” section. Thanks

Image Credit – Porsche AG and the Porsche Club of America with grateful thanks.