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Gasoline PumpsPage6
The Antique Shoppe  August, 2016

By Larry LeMasters                                                     America with gasoline becoming a key commercial commodity.              Gilmore, and Wilshire; however, some collectors only search for
                                                                                                                                               particular types of pumps, such as clear cylinder pumps. There
LeMasters’ Antique News Service                                        New mechanical and electrical innovations fueled the need               are collectors who only look for lighted gas pump globes. Since,
                                                                                                                                               in the early days of automobiles, there were no street lamps or
    Petroliana is the collection of antiques related to gas stations   for new gas pumps. An electric pump allowed gasoline to be              lighted gas station lots, many stations used lighted gas pump
and the oil business. One of the most popular items to collect in                                                                              globes on top of their pumps and lighted signs on their lots. The
petroliana is an antique gas pump.                                     pumped from underground storage tanks without the driver                lights were designed to attract and reassure drivers—in essence,
                                                                                                                                               to help drive the darkness away. Today, these globes, on or off
    The earliest gas pumps were “visible gas” pumps, indicating        being reduced to manually pulling the pump handle “back and             the pump, sell for top dollar. Recently, an authentic 1950s Fleet-
that a clear glass cylinder, located on top of the pump, held five                                                                             Wing gas pump globe with notched lenses and Capco body was
to ten gallons of gas. These were gravity fed pumps that allowed       forth.” Even though the pump was now electric, drivers wanted           offered on eBay for $1,350.
you to see the gasoline you were buying since gasoline was
notorious for being “dirty” or full of organic material at that time.  to visibly see the gasoline they were buying, so a small “sight             Toy gasoline pumps also attract collectors, especially
A manual, pull back and forth, pump allowed a driver to manually                                                                               collectors with limited space for full size pumps. Wardie Products
pump gasoline from a storage tank into the clear glass cylinder. If    glass” cylinder rested on the pump. Pumps of this era also had a        of England offered kids a colorful six-pack of painted metal gas
the driver liked the color of the gas, then gravity fed it downward                                                                            pumps with company names on paper labels. These sets are
into the car’s gas tank.                                               clock face that kept track of the gallons, but the driver still had to  hard to find today in good condition and can easily sell for $225
                                                                                                                                               or more.
    The Bowser Company of Fort Wayne, Indiana, built the first         compute how much he was spending on gas since the pump face
gas pumps in the mid-1880s. Bowser must have felt certain that                                                                                     Even Arcade toy gas pumps, not modeled after real pumps,
if it built a pump, cars would come.                                   did not multiply gallons by cost per gallon, which would be the         sell for hundreds of dollars. I recently saw one on eBay with a
                                                                                                                                               clock face, offered for $675, and it was missing its gas hose!
    By 1898, gasoline pumps were developed that could pull fuel        next innovation in gas pumps.
from underground holding tanks, allowing gas stations to sell                                                                                      Many full size gasoline pumps are sold in “restored”
hundreds of gallons before needing                                     All of these changes and innovations in pumps allow modern              condition, making the pump look desirable, especially for
refueled.                                                                                                                                      displaying or decorating. Keep in mind that “restored” does not
                                                                       collectors to have large collections of old gas pumps. Collectors       mean “restored to working order.” If you want a working pump,
    The heyday of the early gas                                                                                                                ask the seller if the pump works (you might want to buy only
pump was the 1920s when gasoline                                       enjoy seeing all old pumps, but they enjoy buying the oldest            from known, reputable dealers) and plan on paying quite a bit
service stations sprang up all over                                                                                                            more for working pumps.
                                                                       or the “prettiest” of the pumps. The early pumps with glass
  1926 WAYNE # 515, 10-gallon                                                                                                                      You should also be aware that many vintage looking,
 visible gas pump with Mobilgas                                        cylinders on top are highly sought after, as are the old face pumps     reproduction gas pumps are on the market today. Make sure you
                                                                                                                                               are buying an authentic antique if an antique pump is what you
    brand. This is an original,                                        that only registered gallons and not the cost.                          are looking for.
   restored pump, ten-feet tall;
                                                                       Art Deco pumps from the 1930s are increasingly                              If you are a novice gasoline pump collector, you might want
         valued at $11,000.                                                                                                                    to purchase Gas Pump Collector’s Guide by Scott Benjamin. This
                                                                       sought after for their styling and height—they are very                 book is full of useful information and photographs that will help
                                                                                                                                               a novice quickly become a pro. The book sells on Amazon.com
                                                                                                      tall.                                    for $35.

                                                                       < Restored                         By the 1960s, gasoline pumps             Antique gasoline pumps have surged in prices in the past
                                                                       National Union                 had become boxy in appearance                                                       decade as gas and oil
                                                                       76 gas pump.                   and no new innovations have                                                         memorabilia collectors and
                                                                       While restored,                come along since then, so the last                                                  even interior decorators
                                                                       this pump is not in            truly collectible gas pumps come                                                    become more aware of gas
                                                                       working condition.             from the 1950s.                                                                     pumps’ beauty and nostalgic
                                                                       It is valued at                                                                                                    appeal.
                                                                       $14,000.                           Some collectors search for
                                                                                                      particular major gasoline brands
                                                                                                      such as Mobil, Texaco, Standard

                                                                                                             Oil, Phillips 66, Shell,

                                                                                                             Sinclair, and Esso or

                                                                                                             regional oil company

                                                                                                             brands like Signal,

                                                                                                             << Art Deco, fully restored
                                                                                                             WAYNE #60 Gilmore Gas
                                                                                                             Company gas pump, circa
                                                                                                             1930s.
                                                                                                             Gilmore always
                                                                                                             advertised, “Someday
                                                                                                             you will own a horseless
                                                                                                             carriage.
                                                                                                             Our gasoline will run it.”
                                                                                                             This pump is valued
                                                                                                             at $9,250.

                                                                                                                                                  Beautifully restored
                                                                                                                                                      1932 Shell Oil

                                                                                                                                                  “Tokheim” clock face
                                                                                                                                                  gas pump; $12,500.

                                                                       < Arcade Toys gas pump with             Restored WAYNE #615 visible gas          >> Vintage Red
                                                                       clock face, circa 1926.               pump, circa 1920s. Restored to mint       Crown clock face
                                                                       This toy is missing its gas                                                 gasoline pump with
                                                                       hose and is valued at $675.               condition; valued at $19,000.    beautiful glass globe

                                                                                                                                                                   on top.
                                                                                                                                                      This reproduction
                                                                                                                                                   pump (note it is not
                                                                                                                                                    a vintage pump) is
                                                                                                                                                      valued at $7,000.
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