Are you passionate about vintage gas pumps, antique gas station advertising, or anything else related to the petroleum industry? View our upcoming petroliana auctions for collections or call us at Rockabilly Auction Company today at (770) 652-8075 to learn more.
Petroliana is a term used to describe any antiques related to gas stations, the oil industry, and other products, like antique advertising signs and oil cans. The term combines petroleum with Americana to create “petroliana.” Vintage petroliana can transport you back to a simpler era, where gas station attendees used oilers to hand-fill vehicles and major brands painted their advertising signs one by one.
At Rockabilly Auction Company in Hartwell, Georgia, we specialize in collecting petroliana so that you can find new pieces to add to your private collection.
The History of Petroliana
Petroliana roots go back to the invention of the gas pump in 1885. What started as a major monopoly quickly broke into many competing brands, all shooting for the number one spot. In the early 1900s, recognizable brand names surfaced, creating quintessential logos, designs, and products that collectors will pay top dollar for today.
Much of petroliana ties back to unique problem-solving. For example, in the first few decades of the gas station industry, businesses did not have appropriate lighting for pumps at night, so they invented gas-pump globes with striking logos to draw in motorists from the road. During World War II, brands had to switch from using metal oil cans to paper or cardboard due to material shortages from the war.
Such unique factors make petroliana products rare and historically rich. Items featuring major brand names or specific advertisements can sell for over $100,000. Popular brands include Mobil, Standard Oil, Texaco, Shell, Phillips 66, Esso, and Sinclair.
Petroliana Collectors’ Items
Petroliana breaks up into a few major categories: gas pumps and air meters, advertising signs and antique oil cans.
Vintage Air and Gas Pumps
Nothing says petroliana like full-sized pedestal air or gas pumps from nearly a century ago. Collectors seek vintage air meters or gas pumps, ranging through the innovation timeline, including anything from 1890 crank-by-hand pumps to 1950s electronic machines with visible cylinders and clock faces.
Advertising Signs and Gas Pump Globes
Like all other technology, advertising has evolved greatly over time. “Back in the day,” oil brands individually hand-painted each sign on plaques of wood before developing stamping methods and new material options, like porcelain. Today, collectors seek various vintage petroliana signs and gas pump globes featuring different brands, logos, slogans, and materials.
Antique Oil Cans
It’s hard to imagine filling your gas tank by hand with cans, though this was once the norm. Oilers were another excellent branding opportunity for oil companies, though attendees typically threw them away once emptied, leaving only a handful in good condition. Now, these antique oil cans are sought by collectors for their rarity.
Buy and Sell Petroliana Collectibles
Whether you want to part with your petroliana or add to your collection, we can help. View our upcoming petroliana auctions, schedule a consignment appointment to sell items, visit our Georgia auction house, or call us at Rockabilly Auction Company today at (770) 652-8075 to learn more.