Vintage Oil Cans

Are you a petroliana collector seeking your next gem? View our upcoming auctions for vintage oil cans or contact us at Rockability Auction Company today at (770) 652-8075 to learn more. 

When you think of a gas station, most people imagine modern pumps with automatic gauges and card-reading machines. Before this technology, though, gas station attendants used individual cans to hand-fill vehicles with fuel, often offering other personal services such as windshield cleaning and friendly conversation.

Vintage oil cans take us back to a simpler era, rich in history. At Rockability Auction Company in Hartwell, Georgia, we collect and auction antique oil cans so anyone can own a piece of the old days.

Vintage Oil Cans: The Early Days of Filling Your Tank

The first oil cans served as advertising opportunities for oil companies, featuring unique logo designs atop the metal oil can. The earliest cans were either box or square-shaped, typically in the one-quart size, though occasionally containing five or 10 gallons of fuel. Eventually, companies switched to the cylindrical shape that most of us imagine with cans, showing one soldered seam as a gray stripe in the back.

By the 1940s, a major shift happened in cans as World War II caused a metal shortage. Companies created paper quarts that typically featured a metal bottom with cardboard or paper sides and a metal top to conserve the material. Certain manufacturers, like Phillips 66, created solutions that used only paper and cardboard without any metal.

In 1960, innovators introduced the plastic can, featuring a round shape with a metal lid. Paper quarts remained popular from the 1950s to the 1980s. Because most people threw away oil cans after use, the remaining vintage models became quite scarce.

Identifying Valuable Oil Cans

Oil can value comes from the graphics, condition, age, and scarcity. A few surviving cans are dent- and rust-free, allowing them to retain incredible value. Collectors seek items with special-edition graphics in great shape.

Unique items, like cans containing motorcycle oil, pouring spouts, full cans, and region-specific brands, are hot commodities to many collectors. A rare Blue Vintage Paraffin Oil quart fiber drum and brass tap can go for $250 or more, depending on the condition.

A few popular collectors’ brands include the following:

  • American Can Company
  • Continental Can Company
  • Columbia Can Company
  • National Can Company
  • St. Louis Tin & Sheet Metal Works
  • St. Louis Can Company

We Want To Auction Your Vintage Oil Cans

If you have vintage oil cans collecting dust on your shelf, we will find them a new home. Whether you have questions about determining value or shipping vintage oil cans, our team can help. To sell antique oil cans, visit our gallery or schedule a consignment appointment by calling us at (770) 652-8075.

Interested in Owning an Antique Oiler?

If you’re interested in owning a piece of antique fuel history, you’ve come to the right place. At Rockability Auction Company, we collect vintage pieces and auction them to other passionate collectors. View our upcoming auctions for vintage oil cans or call us at Rockability Auction Company in Hartwell, Georgia, today at (770) 652-8075 to learn more.