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Petroliana has collectibles commemorating auto’s early days

October 1, 2018

Petroliana makes popular collectibles around the world. Pictured is a collection in the United Kingdom. Locally, one can visit Heritage Farm Museum and Village to see an extensive collection of American petroliana.

A rainy day and an empty gas tank can sure make a body wish for the good old days that included a gas station with an attendant who would fill up a gas tank. In a flash, many of us can remember the day when you could breeze into any gas station, never leave your dry car and just say, “Fill’er up.”

Those days are long past, but the memorabilia of those friendly stations, not only filling up the gas tanks but also cleaning the windows, has become quite popular. Items that fall into collections of old-time service station paraphernalia are called “Petroliana.”

The petroliana collector often seeks signage, oil cans, gas pumps and more. Such names as Gulf, Esso, Shamrock, Sinclair and Sunoco offered their goods for small change 50 or more years ago. Now in today’s world, collectors seek those same goods and pay pretty hefty bucks for them.

Some items, of course, are more sought after than others.

For example, those who collect gas pumps are quite taken with the Wayne 60 model. First introduced in 1935, it is considered the premier of tall computer pumps. Those who love this pump often comment on its shape, trim and color and for some models the classic globe that rises above its medal shoulders. Gas pumps are so popular and so sought after that companies have been created to restore, rebuild and reproduce this piece of petroleum history.

Signage is another favorite category. As we wander down memory lane many of us can remember the Fire Chief, the Sinclair Dino or the Mobilgas Pegasus sign at the local gas station. These and other logos of the period can be found not only on the big signs which once rose over the stations but on small signs that indicated the lady’s restroom or the station telephone. A collector would also be interested in all the giveaway items promoting a favorite gas station. Gas company logos were stamped on everything from toy trucks to cuff links and they now have a place in the petroliana market.

If you are interested in this venue then there is lots of information available. Petroliana is the subject of numerous books, price guides, clubs and online collector’s sites. There are also some real live examples of petroliana as part of the many displays located in the Heritage Farm Museum and Village on Harvey Road in Huntington.

Jean McClelland writes about antiques for The Herald-Dispatch.

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