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Gas Pump Globes and other “Petroliana”

April 13, 2010

While performing an important search for an article one day—okay, I admit it, it was this morning, and I was bored, and I put “pergle” into Google just to see what would happen, you caught me!—I found this blast from the past: Pergl Gas Pump Globes. Remember those?

“Gas globes are spherical glass signs that sat atop gas pumps in the first half of the 20th century, advertising a specific oil company or brand of gasoline. Generally made from a ring of metal with a lens mounted on either side, they were produced in various shapes (like the Shell clamshell) and innumerable designs.

The purpose of gas pump globes was brand identification for drivers at a distance. Lighting wasn’t as good on gas stations as it is today. Sometimes all a motorist could recognize driving by was the gas pump itself lit up, and the globe glowed so they’d know what brand of gas was available. Post World War II, pumps started getting smaller, and by the 1960’s, it was unusual to have a globe.”

Pergl makes reproductions, but there are of course lots of dealers in actual antique globes, and over at OldGas.com, “The Gas Station & Auto Service Collectibles Web Site,” they have a huge gallery of photos of vintage globes.

It’s all part of “Petroliana,” a collectibles niche involving antiques from the oil and gas industries. Here’s a New York Timesstoryon it from 2008; here’s a link to the International Petroliana Collectors’ Convention, held in Dublin, Ohio, every year (June 24-26, 2010); you may be interested in petroliana related to Minnesota only; here’s another really great collection of photos from Petroliana.co.uk; and over at Vintage Garage they have a collection of photographs sent in by readers of globes from all over the world, even as far away as Australia. Fun stuff. If you’ve got any petroliana lying around the yard yourself, please let us know. We’d love to see it.

• The Mohawk Gasoline photo (click to enlarge!) came with permission from Mr. R. Ross of GasPumpGarage.com. Our many thanks. And here’s another, just because it’s such a beauty:




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