Jan/Feb 2019 edition
Issue #3 AutoMobilia Resource Magazine
As Motoring traveled its way into Mainstream America in the early 1900s, Gas & Oil branding and advertising, became a new and very important way to attract the traveling customer. Traveling Auto Tourists would drive by Service Stations and see Curb Signs, Banners and even Billboards advertising Gasoline & Motor Oil. One of the most beautiful and eye-catching ways of advertising was the Gas Pump Globe. The illuminated Gas Pump Globe would sit atop the Gas Pump, as well as on sconces at the edge of stations, and attract the eye of the weary traveler, especially in the evening and at night. Gas Pump Globes were a new marketing tool to display the brand of gasoline being sold. Each brand developed unique and beautiful artwork to display their particular brand, and attract new customers.
Some of the earliest Gas Pump Globes are called a “One Piece Baked” or, “One Piece Etched” Globe. These globes were generally made of Milk Glass, and were either painted on the face, or the glass was etched or cast, then painted with a particular brand of gasoline. Most of the earliest glass globe lenses were screened or hand painted, and over the years began to flake or fade. This process was later perfected by screening the image, and baking or “firing on’’ the graphic to the backside of the lens, giving the back of the lens a rough, sandpaper like surface.
The most common sizes used in Gas Pump Globes are the 13.5” & 15” lenses. The 13.5” Globe lenses would sit in a Milk Glass Body, as well as a plastic Capco body. In an even more rare form, these lenses would sit in a beautiful glass “Ripple Body” that came in various colors. The 15” Globe lenses set into a painted Metal body, and are arguably the most desired lenses because of their larger size, as well as the amazing graphics given to this size of globe. Although not very common, stations also used very unique sizes, such as a 16.5” lenses on a metal body, as well as 12.5” lenses set into a Milk Glass Body.
In my opinion, the golden age of Gas Pump Globe Advertising was from the late 1920s into the 1930s. During this time, Aviation was huge in the United States, as well as auto racing. Aviation & auto racing advertising became a large part of Gas & Oil brand marketing. Also during this time, the Gas & Oil industry was full of small independent brands that were later bought out by larger corporations. These brands used so many great graphics in advertising, from Native Americans to animals, and top hats to propellers…. These brands displayed beautiful, graphic globes that were later taken down & set aside or destroyed.
If you’re new into Gas & Oil advertising, or thinking about collecting Gas Pump Globes, here’s some advice: You should always try to buy unique and rare globes in excellent condition, free of any fading or damage in the graphic. Gas Pump Globes are plentiful. You should always try to buy the rarest examples from particular brands you’re seeking. Another excellent way to avoid buying mistakes or being burned buying a fake Globe, is to buy from a reputable dealer or auction house. By far, the best purchase a new or veteran collector can make in the globe market, is buying Scott Benjamin’s Gas Pump Globe Guide & Valuation CD. This digital catalog shows photographs, rarity scales, and also a price guide valuation on the vast majority of globes. Do your due diligence before you buy, and remember to have fun!
To read more great columns like this one from petroliana expert John Mihovetz...
John Mihovetz is an Expert and Director of Acquisitions at Morphy Auctions focusing on automobilia, petroliana and antique advertising.