"My Favorite Museum Exhibit": John Lennon's Rolls Royce

"My Favorite Museum Exhibit" is a series of posts aimed at giving BoingBoing readers a chance to show off their favorite exhibits and specimens, preferably from museums that might go overlooked in the tourism pantheon. I'll be featuring posts in this series all week. Want to see them all? Check out the archive post. I'll update the full list there every morning.

This car sits in the lobby of the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, British Columbia. It once belonged to John Lennon, hence the paint job. But that's not the only customization. Inside, apparently, there is a fold-out bed, a portable refrigerator, and a record player. There also used to be a TV. Bear in mind, all these changes were made in the mid-to-late 1960s, when the whole refrigerator-and-TV-in-a-car thing were much more impressive feats of technology.

Sean Rodman works at the Royal BC Museum and sent in this photo, along with a request for assistance. On the roof of the car is a symbol that is, ostensibly, the sign for Libra. Except that it doesn't really resemble the sign for Libra. The Royal BC Museum is confused. Maybe you guys know what this is:



  1. two eggs, sunny side up in a frying pan.


    the logo of swiss musician dave phillips [http://www.davephillips.ch/index.html]

  2. I really wish I could find a picture of a “ritual object of uncertain purpose” (British Museum label) from Tutankhamun’s tomb.

    From a bucket-shaped base with leaf designs rises a vertical stalk of about 1.5 metres height, topped with a stylised lotus flower. Around the stalk twines a leafless vine[?] or rope, to the lower end of which (about 1/4 up the height of the stalk) is attached a “wine-skin” (a leather vessel still very much in the shape of the headless beast it came from).

    The whole thing is carved in wood and covered with gold leaf.

    The exhibition was a temporary one in the mid-1970s so the museum won’t have a photograph; but maybe one exists in a full catalogue of the tomb furnishings.

    It has me wondering what 21st-century objects might, many centuries from now, attract a “ROUP” label.

      1. Thanks for that: interesting to see how inaccurate my memory of the object’s detail was. Significantly different from the image in my mind; but clearly it’s the right one :)

      1. I had originally thought this as well – his glasses re-arranged.  But the flipped Libra symbol theory is a good one as well…

  3. There are a couple of similar unicode symbols, the genealogical symbol indicating divorce and a mathematical symbol for negated infinity.

    When I put the image above into Google image “search by image”, this came up. http://i.imgur.com/NHQCN.jpg

    PS: Couldn’t they just write to Yoko?

  4. Perhaps a take on the peace symbol. The symbol’s “Y” branches are presented as circles, denoting a desire for peace in perpetuity, as well as peace from both sides.

  5. The most I could find is that it’s used on his stationery when he was living at the Kenwood House in Surrey. This is where he had the gypsy caravan and the Rolls. The correct orientation is with the line horizontal, with a circle above and below, enclosed in another circle.


    Someone in the comments says it is a “spirit wheel”, but this is wrong because a spirit wheel should be a single circle with spokes. I think the speculation that it has something to do with transcendental meditation is more likely, but I can’t find any such symbols with that connection.

    1. The letterhead is a great connection that we hadn’t seen before – we’ll follow up with that blog and see what else we can turn up.

  6. In much the same way the familiar peace symbol is composed of the semaphore signal positions for “ND” for “Nuclear Disarmament” this is a stylized construction of “YOKO”

  7. Certainly not Western astrology, but all kinds of meta-spacey unity/duality themes could hide in it.

  8. Maybe the problem is  focusing in too much, maybe it’s part of a larger image or idea. Here’s a full view. 

    The full figure could be considered an estoile, or star with wavy arms, I prefer to think of the entire image as a compass rose with an undefined center, especially since this is a moving craft, a funny twist on a Land Yacht ala Yellow Submarine.

    A logogram?

    Some of the old Apple Label images are not all that different, an apple cut in half with the stem intersecting, all within a circle. Abstract, yes, but not far-fetched.

    Personally, I see a lowercase d and p within a circle.

  9. It’s an infinity pill, the kind with an indentation down the middle so it’s easy to split in half.

  10. Roof murals are usually intended for viewing from the front or back.  I expect that this is no different, and so is a pair of circles over and under a horizontal line.  This seems to me to be a classic reflection ideogram, where the horizontal line is a horizon and the lower circle is the top circle reflected.  Is it the sun or the moon?  Reflection would be consistent with his transcendental leanings.

  11. The idea to paint the car was by a Dutch artist who was a part of the artist collective known as “The Fool”, who also painted Eric Clapton’s SG guitar that he used with Cream. The car itself was painted by gypsies.

    1. I think there is some confusion as to who did the painting. There is an invoice from Steve Weaver who did the work on behalf of J.P. Fallon Ltd.

  12. Two things immediately came to mind.  The first was that it was reminiscent of the “Vesica Piscis” also known as the “chalice well” design.  But that images has the two circles intersecting creating a lozenge and the line is at a 90 degree angle to this one.  So it’s close but not quite.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vesica_piscis

    The other thing that came to mind was the image of The Devil in Crowley’s “Thoth Tarot.”  The goat there is posed over two testes which have dancing people inside, but the two spheres are bisected by a rod with an Egyptian style winged cap.  http://passingstrnge.tumblr.com/post/1466407821/xv-the-devil-thoth-tarot-deck-by-lady-frieda  Though that one is not circumscribed…

    I keep looking at this and thinking that it reminds me of a magical symbol. I tried a whole round of google image searching and all I’m getting is spreadsheets and psychedelia. 

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