Collectible Petroliana is a niche market that encompasses a wide range of antique and vintage items related to the petroleum industry. These items include gas pumps, oil cans, signs, advertising thermometers, and other promotional materials used to promote gasoline companies. The term “petroliana” was originally coined in the 1980s to describe this type of collecting.
The history of Petroliana dates back to the early 20th century, when the automobile revolutionized transportation and created a demand for gasoline. Oil companies quickly realized the importance of advertising and branding to capture market share. They began producing promotional materials to differentiate themselves from their competitors and attract customers.
One of the most sought-after collectibles in this market are gas pumps. Early gas pumps were simple hand pumps that dispensed gasoline into glass jars or barrels. In the 1920s, electric pumps were introduced and quickly became dominant in the market. These pumps were often decorated with the logos of gas companies, creating a colorful and eye-catching display that could be seen from a distance. Today, vintage gas pumps are highly collectible and can sell for thousands of dollars.
Oil cans are another popular collectible in the Petroliana market. These cans were used to store and transport gasoline and other petroleum products. They were often decorated with colorful graphics that promoted the brand of gasoline they contained. Some of the most prized oil cans were made by the Gulf Oil Company, due to their iconic orange and blue design.
Advertising signs are another key component of the Petroliana market. These signs were made from a variety of materials, including metal, porcelain, and cardboard. They were often large and colorful, making them highly visible from the street. Signs featuring popular gas brands, such as Texaco and Shell, are highly prized by collectors today.
Other Petroliana items of interest include oil company uniforms, road maps, and even toy gas stations. These items were used to promote the gas companies themselves, as well as to create a sense of loyalty among customers. By collecting these items, collectors can gain a deeper understanding of the history and culture of the petroleum industry.
The value of Petroliana collectibles can vary widely depending on a variety of factors, including age, condition, rarity, and desirability. Some items, such as rare gas pumps, can sell for tens of thousands of dollars at auction. Other items, such as oil cans and advertising signs, can range in price from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.
Collecting Petroliana is more than just a hobby – it’s a passion for many enthusiasts. Collectors often spend years building their collections and seeking out rare and unusual items. They may attend auctions, estate sales, and antique shows to find new items for their collections. Many collectors also enjoy restoring old gas pumps and other items, bringing them back to their original glory.
In addition to collecting, Petroliana enthusiasts are also interested in the history of the petroleum industry itself. They may research the origins and evolution of gasoline companies, as well as the impact of the industry on American culture. By collecting and studying Petroliana items, collectors are able to gain insight into the innovation, competition, and marketing strategies that shaped this important industry.
In conclusion, Petroliana collecting is a fascinating, and often lucrative, hobby that allows collectors to explore the rich history of the petroleum industry. Whether you’re interested in gas pumps, oil cans, signs, or other Petroliana items, there is a wealth of information and resources available to help you get started. So why not dive in and explore this fascinating niche market for yourself? The treasures you uncover may surprise and delight you.
Among the most valuable Petroliana items are gas pumps from the 1920s to 1950s, particularly those made by the big manufacturers like Bowser, Wayne, and Tokheim. Collectors also seek out original globes that went on top of gas pumps, which can fetch thousands of dollars if they are rare or in excellent condition. Original enamel signs advertising gasoline or oil brands, especially those from the early 1900s, can also be highly valuable, as can antique oil cans.
Some of the most expensive vintage gas pumps have sold for over $100,000 at auctions. However, it is important to note that prices fluctuate and can be influenced by the overall market demand and the specific preferences of buyers.