We acknowledge Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land and give respect to Elders – past and present – and through them to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
87/1 Maquette, Holden lion, plaster, made by Rayner Hoff, South Australia, c. 1927. Click to enlarge.

Plaster macquette of Holden lion by Rayner Hoff

In 1927 Holden's Motor Body Builders Ltd of Adelaide commissioned Rayner Hoff, later responsible for the sculptures at war memorials in Sydney and Adelaide, to design an emblem for the firm similar to the lion used for the Empire Exhibition at Wembley in the United Kingdom in 1924. The emblem related to the myth that the invention of the wheel was suggested when a lion was observed rolling a stone.

This is the plaster lion marquette made by Hoff from which small diecast emblems were produced for nameplates applied to Holden car bodies built from 1928 until 1939. The design was adopted as a trademark for all Holden advertising, and the first Australian General Motors car, the Holden, in 1948. Updated in 1972 and again in 1994, this symbol is still used on all Holden cars.

Margaret Simpson, Curator


Object No.


Object Statement

Maquette, Holden lion, plaster, made by Rayner Hoff, South Australia, c. 1927

Physical Description

Maquette, plaster of paris, figure of a lion with a sphere. Supported on a wedge on a narrow rectangular pedestal base. The lean and muscular lion with foward looking head, erect and angled back, jaws open in a ferocious snarl and stylised mane falling in panels, the left foreleg held staight and tense while the right foreleg is raised with the paw placed on a sphere or ball. The body of the lion slopes back to the crouched haunces, the tail trailing back to the right.



405 mm


135 mm


420 mm



"By the latter part of the twenties, Holden's had decided that [the previous] corporate insignia of a winged man design was too detailed for embossing. Accordingly one of Australia's leading sculptors of the time, Raynor Hoff, who was renowned for his war memorials and mural plaques, was commissioned to produce a design in plaster. On the advice of the firm's advertising agents and staff designers, who felt that an Egyptian-style lion, as used for the motif of the 1924 Wembley Exhibition in London, with its significance to the British Empire, could be both simple and dramatic. Furthermore a legend held that the invention of the wheel by primitive man was inspired by the sight of a lion rolling a stone with its paw. This plaster plaque was reproduced in small die-cast or pressed metal badges, with the word "Holden" as a base, which were affixed to Holden bodies produced for thenceforth." (from "Restored Cars, No. 47, 25th December 1981, page 15)
Rayner Hoff, male, sculptor and teacher, b.1894 Isle of Man, England, d. 1937 Sydney. Renowned for his war memorials and mural plaques. (From "Scarlett, K., "Australian Sculptors")


Credit Line

Purchased 1987

Acquisition Date

8 January 1987

Cite this Object


Plaster macquette of Holden lion by Rayner Hoff 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 19 April 2021, <https://ma.as/68813>


{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/68813 |title=Plaster macquette of Holden lion by Rayner Hoff |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=19 April 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}