The History of The Standard Oil Company 
The richest and most fascinating oil history in the world
 A lengthy History that is definitely worth the read!

John D. Rockefeller (July 8, 1839 – May 23, 1937) was the guiding force behind the creation and development of the Standard Oil Company, which grew to dominate the oil industry and became one of the first big trusts in the United States.John left high school in 1855 to take a business course at Folsom Mercantile College. He completed the six-month course in three months and, after looking for a job for six weeks, was employed as an assistant bookkeeper by Hewitt & Tuttle, a small firm of commission merchants and produce shippers. Rockefeller was not paid until after he had worked there three months, when Hewitt gave him $50 ($3.57 a week) and told him that his salary was being increased to $25 a month. A few months later he became the cashier and bookkeeper.In 1859, with $1,000 he had saved and another $1,000 borrowed from his father, Rockefeller formed a partnership in the commission business with another young man, Maurice B. Clark. In that same year the first oil well was drilled at Titusville in western Pennsylvania, giving rise to the petroleum industry. Cleveland soon became a major refining center of the booming new industry, and in 1863 Rockefeller and Clark entered the oil business as refiners. Together with a new partner, Samuel Andrews, who had some refining experience, they built and operated an oil refinery under the company name of Andrews, Clark & Co. The firm also continued in the commission business but in 1865 the partners, now five in number, disagreed about the management of their business affairs and decided to sell the refinery to whoever amongst them bid the highest. Rockefeller bought it for $72,500, sold out his other interests and, with Andrews, formed Rockefeller & Andrews.THE STANDARD OIL COMPANYRockefeller’s stake in the oil industry increased as the industry itself expanded, spurred by the rapidly spreading use of kerosene for lighting. In 1870 he organized The Standard Oil Company along with his brother William, Andrews, Henry M. Flagler, S.V. Harkness, and others. It had a capital of $1 million.By 1872 Standard Oil had purchased and thus controlled nearly all the refining firms in Cleveland, plus two refineries in the New York City area. Before long the company was refining 29,000 barrels of crude oil a day and had its own cooper shop manufacturing wooden barrels. The company also had storage tanks with a capacity of several hundred thousand barrels of oil, warehouses for refined oil, and plants for the manufacture of paints and glue.Standard prospered and, in 1882, all its properties were merged in the Standard Oil Trust, which was in effect one great company. It had an initial capital of $70 million. There were originally forty-two certificate holders, or owners, in the trust.After ten years the trust was dissolved by a court decision in Ohio. The companies that had made up the trust later joined in the formation of the Standard Oil Company (New Jersey), since New Jersey had adopted a law that permitted a parent company to own the stock of other companies. It is estimated that Standard Oil owned three-fourths of the petroleum business in the U.S. in the 1890s.In addition to being the head of Standard, Rockefeller owned iron mines and timberland and invested in numerous companies in manufacturing, transportation, and other industries. Although he held the title of president of Standard Oil until 1911, Rockefeller retired from active leadership of the company in 1896.

In 1911 the U.S. Supreme Court found the Standard Oil trust to be in violation of the anti-trust laws and ordered the dissolution of the parent New Jersey corporation. The 38 companies which it then controlled were separated into individual firms. In his biography, Study in Power, John D. Rockefeller, Industrialist and Philanthropist, the historian Allan Nevins reports that Rockefeller at that time owned 244,500 of the company’s total of 983,383 outstanding shares.

In the year 1904, it controlled 91% of oil production and 85% of final sales in the United States.As a result, an antitrust case was filed against the company in 1906 under the Sherman Antitrust Act, arguing that the company used tactics such as raising prices in areas where it had a monopoly, while price gouging in areas where it still faced competition.By the time the Standard Oil was broken up in 1911, its market share had eroded to 64%, and there were at least 147 refining companies competing with it in the United States. Meanwhile, John D. Rockefeller had left the company, yet the value of his stock doubled as a result of the split. This made him the world’s richest person at the time.Resulting Companies from Standard Oil The company was split into 34 separate entities, mainly based on geographical area in the USToday, the biggest of these companies form the core of the U.S. oil industry:Standard Oil of New Jersey: Merged with Humble Oil and eventually became ExxonStandard Oil of New York: Merged with Vacuum Oil, and eventually became MobilStandard Oil of California: Acquired Standard Oil of Kentucky, Texaco, and Unocal, and is now ChevronStandard Oil of Indiana: Renamed Amoco, and was acquired by BPStandard Oil of Ohio: Acquired by BPThe Ohio Oil Company: Became Marathon Oil, which eventually also spun-off Marathon PetroleumSources: Wikipedia, aoghs.org
Fun Fact:
Rockefeller’s $1.5 billion was about 1.6% of the economy in 1937. If he were to own the same percentage today, his fortune would be almost triple Jeff Bezos of Amazon.Source: Wikipedia
If you would like a copy of this chart, please let us know. It is pretty fascinating! In the next several weeks we will be breaking down the History of these separate entities that split off from Standard Oil Company. Stay tuned! Pictured is an original Standard Oil Products sign from our Garage Art Original Collection, measures 10 feet long x 10″ high and sits off the wall when hung 1.5″, painted metal. We offer a few different variations of Standard Oil Signs- small to large, satin style of vintage (patina) styles to choose from
You can purchase Standard Oil signs from us:
The History of the iconic Esso Tiger
“Put A Tiger In Your Tank!” Pictured is an Original Esso Tiger Globe Head made from plastic, which would originally have a metal base that would fix to the top of a gas pump, mostly seen in the 1960’s  in the UK.
Pictured is a marketing ad for Esso Extra
Put A Tiger In Your Tank
Do you remember or still have one of those fake tiger tails from the early 60’s?  Motorists all over the world were tying them to the caps of their gas tanks and sporting bumper stickers that declared: “I’ve got a tiger in my tank.”Some 2.5 million tails were sold in the US alone – and that they’re still in demand – is testimony to the durability of the campaign that convinced drivers that Esso fuel was so powerful that it was the equivalent of having a huge beast in their gas tanks.
“Put a tiger in your tank” was a slogan created in 1959 by Emery Smith, a young Chicago copywriter who had been given the task to produce a newspaper ad to boost sales of Esso Extra.The tiger wasn’t Smith’s invention. He’d first appeared as a mascot for Esso in Norway around the turn of the 20th century. But it wasn’t until the end of the Second World War – and the resumption of petrol advertising – that the tiger made his US debut.”He was a very different character back then. Cute, amiable and in cartoon form, he closely resembled Tigger in Winnie-the-Pooh and was intended to represent a new post-war optimism after years of shortages. He also gave an identifiable face to Esso in a market where brand differentiation has never been easy”It was in 1964 that the character really hit his stride with a campaign developed by McCann Erickson. As Esso sales soared and the advertising became the talk of gasoline advertising, Time magazine declared 1964 to be “The Year of the Tiger along Madison Avenue”The oil crisis of the early 1970’s put a stop to any conspicuous petrol consumption and, with little advertising activity taking place, Esso switched its efforts to promoting its pioneering role in North Sea oil exploration.The task of reflecting this change of emphasis in advertising terms fell to the long-serving McCann senior creative Chester Posey. He chose to represent the new global reality for the newly named Exxon Mobil by swapping the cartoon tiger for a real one and the line: “We’re changing our name, but not our stripes.”                                               Interesting Facts– In 1996, Kellogg took legal action against Exxon Mobil, claiming its use of the Exxon tiger to sell food at TigerMart convenience stores infringed its Tony the Tiger trademark created by Leo Burnett. The case went to the US Supreme Court before an undisclosed settlement was reached.- I’ve Got A Tiger By The Tail, the 1964 hit by the US country music band Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, was inspired when Owens saw the “Put a tiger in your tank” slogan at a petrol station.

– In the 1980s, a live-action tiger was used, filmed by expert cameramen.  Ever since, the Exxon Tiger has remained the same, racing up mountains and along beaches, portraying the energy and power of Exxon (now ExxonMobil) products.

– Exxon Mobil contributes $1 million a year to support the Save the Tiger Fund, which helps conserve Asia’s remaining wild tigers.

                                               Original Memorabilia
Original Esso Tiger Automobilia is hard to find. A good percentage is found in the UK. Prices range from $700 for an original 12″ pump plate sign to $7,000 + for an original Esso Tiger Mascot mold/statue that went on the roofs of Esso stations. 

Garage Art has several different reproduction Esso Tiger Signs to choose from; big and small. A great way to bring back the memories and as some fun to your garage! 

Batteries signs do not carry as much history as some of the old gas signs however the Delco Batteries might be an exception.   The history of Delco Batteries started with “The Remy Brothers” of The Remy Electric Company in 1896. They were one of the very early American companies producing magnetos for the auto manufacturers and the created the 1st automotive started in 1913.

 In 1916 The Remy Electric company was purchased by United Motors who was a holding company.  In 1918 United Motors was then purchased by General Motors and Delco Remy Corporation was established in 1926 as a division of General Motors.  In 1928 the current suppliers of batteries were Willard, Exide, USL And Preto-Lite. The batteries were sold to the car manufacturers as a loss leader in order to establish market share at the retail level. Delco Remy was able to establish a n production process that met the current OEM prices and still make a profit.  Delco batteries was introduced in 1945 and really hit stride in 1966 with the introduction of the Delco Energizer Battery. This design with a  1-piece plastic top and the Delco eye for checking the charge was a hit.  Delco Batteries signs are circa 1939 and hold a collector value due to their size (70” x 18” ) and color. We believe that these carry an incredible collector value due to current selling prices. At the 2020 Mecum Kissimmee auction  one was sold for $900.00 with an estimate of $2000.00.  Reproduction signs are available here at Garage Art!

Pictured is an original porcelain Signal Gas 72″ sign 
The Signal Gasoline Company began in 1922 when farmer Samuel B. Mosher started his first filling station. Mosher became quite a businessman with strong entrepreneurial skills as the operation quickly grew during the 20’s and in 1928 was renamed Signal Gas and Oil. In 1931, Signal partnered with the gasoline and oil giant, the Standard Oil Company.
Signal eventually grew to be the largest independent oil company on the West Coast. Signal Gasoline was known for its premium quality. 

Garage Art Family History with Signal Gasoline:
In 1956 my grandfather bought a Signal Gas station and ran it in Seattle Washington, West Seattle off California Ave for several years. Since then, our family has collected several Signal signs including the one pictured above. This picture below was not his station, but comparable to what a Signal Station on the West coast looked like and how it was set-up. 

The Washington Chief Gasoline brand was created by the Inland Refinery in Spokane, Washington, which operated between 1939 and 1957. Inland had plans to open stations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. The porcelain signs were produced and ready to mount as their new stations opened. Inland opened the 1st station in Spokane followed by Aberdeen, shortly thereafter they were bought out by Wasatch Oil.

The original signs went into storage with little to no value, only to start surfacing in the 1990s when a few of these signs in NOS condition turned up in an antique store in Seattle. 

Garage Art Family History with Washington Chief Signs:
We bought two, kept one, and sold the other years ago! The original 6-foot signs have vibrant colors and have become very collectible and valuable. Prices for originals sold between $20,000 – $75,000 + with larger auction companies such as Barrett Jackson over the years. A very sought after original sign for a collector.

Garage Art offers several different Made in the USA reproduction Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana Chief Signs ranging from $19 to $299 for larger versions

The “Coke Cop” Sign

As collectors we are always on the search for signs that are unique and have the wow factor. One of those signs we believe is the Coca-Cola Policeman Crossing Sign What makes this sign a real standout is its size, shape and the colors of the policeman crossing guard. Originally produced and released in the 1950’s as a promotional piece for Coca-Cola.  This was a very popular item for schools all over the country to warn drivers of an upcoming school and crosswalk The back side of the sign showed a Coke bottle and the words Thank You and Resume Speed. The original signs stand 5’ tall and have the Coke-Cola name cast in the base with a date stamp at the bottom (IE. A-M 1-56) What a ingenious marketing idea for its time that appealed to the kids, schools and local communities. The original signs are rare however can be found in the $2500.00 – $3500.00 range Garage Art has steel reproductions in sizes up to 60” from $40.00 to $250.00.

By: Steve Johnson (Founder of Garage Art)

I remember from a young age sitting at the window late at night watching the activity at the Texaco station on N.E. Halsey street in Portland, OR. The beckoning glow of the Texaco Star sign brought me comfort and to this day makes me nostalgic for the 60’s

The Texaco Star sign ignites memories of the “good old days” for even non-collectors. We all remember that road trip, filling up with our parents or first learning to drive. Texaco was ubiquitous on American roads. 

Texaco was an independent company until it merged operations with Chevron Corporation in 2001. For many years, Texaco was one of the only brands in the US selling under the same name in all 50 states. Hence, why most Americans alive during its tenure feel a connection to it. 

Personally, I always looked forward to going to Grandpa’s house because it was right behind the Texaco station. I remember the big Texaco Star sign illuminating the street and the station attendants running out when the driveway bell rang. 

There was just something fascinating about watching this activity at night from the upstairs bedroom window as a small kid. 

I’m fortunate to have followed my childhood curiosity and passion in my career. It evolved from collecting signs to founding Garage Art to increase access for other enthusiasts. Naturally, Texaco signs are some of our most popular. 

As I travel across the country, to this day, the sight of a Texaco sign still puts a smile on my face. 

For any collector, a Texaco sign is a must have. Original signs still run in a reasonable price range from $800-$15,000. 42’’ reproduction versions average around $325. 

By: Steve Johnson (Founder of Garage Art) 

My fascination with S&H Green Stamps started early on in my childhood years. In the early 1960’s I traveled with my Dad between Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon on highway 99. I always looked forward to the next gas stop at a Standard or Richfield station. These were Dad’s favorites.

The S&H Green Stamp sign predominantly displayed that S&H Stamps came with your fill up. As a kid, these souvenirs excited me. The rest of the trip was spent licking and sticking stamps in the redemption book.

S&H Green Stamps, operated by the Sperry & Hutchinson company, began in the 1930’s and ran through the late 1980’s.  The height of its popularity was in the 1960’s. It was one of the country’s first retail rewards programs. You could obtain stamps at supermarkets, department stores and gas stations. They boasted that their rewards book was the largest publication in the United States and they issued three times more stamps than the U.S Postal System! 

Like many rewards programs, it seemingly took thousands of stamps to redeem even just a toaster. This was especially true in the 1970s when the program’s popularity started to decline. Customers needed more stamps to earn rewards. 

If you have ever owned an old car, then surely you have found old S&H Stamps stuffed in the glove box or hiding under the seats. 

Naturally, one of the very first signs we purchased for our collection was an S&H sign which we still have today.

These signs are unique and colorful. They’re a great addition to any sign collection. Original signs are still very affordable and run in the $150.00 – $500.00 range. Reproduction versions run from $40.00 -$125.00.  Owning one of these signs is like owning a piece of American history! 

By: Steve Johnson (Founder of Garage Art)

My obsession with old gas signs started 32 years ago with the purchase of an original Texaco Petrox pump sign. I bought it from the owner of a local orchard in Manson, Washington. My family collected old signs and antiques. However, I never saw the value in collecting them because of the cost. But after my first treasured purchase of that Texaco sign I was hooked. I went on to buy every old gas sign I could afford.

Any collector will tell you that the hunt is just as much fun as the actual purchase. Over the years, my collection grew. At the outset, I considered myself a purist collector and never bought reproduced signs. 

In 2005, I pivoted and started turning toward reproduced signs. Original signs were too cost prohibitive to grow my collection to the level I wanted. I thought that there must be more people out there that love old signs but couldn’t afford the originals. Our company, Garage Art, was born out of this idea. 

In 2006 we opened our doors as a place where people could buy quality reproduction signs and garage decor. One of the first signs we reproduced was a Washington Chief Gasoline sign. 

A few Washington Chief Gasoline signs in NOS (new old stock) condition surfaced during the 1990’s in an antique store in Seattle.  This brand was created by the Inland Refinery in Spokane Washington which operated from 1939 to 1957. Inland originally planned to open stations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.  The porcelain signs were produced to mount in advance of new stations opening. Inland opened the first station in Spokane followed then a second in Aberdeen Washington. Shortly thereafter they were bought out by Wasatch Oil. 

The original signs went into storage with little to no value only to surface 30 years later. The original 6-foots signs have vibrant colors and have become valuable collector items. Prices for originals sell between $20k – $75k. For most, this is just too much. Our production version certainly does not replace or devalue the originals, but allows people to enjoy owning a version of this sign. 

Garage Art now sells over 3500 items including an expansive collection of other vintage oil and gas signs. Over 90% of our items are made here in the USA. Our goal is to provide more collectors access by marketing quality reproductions as an alternative to originals. But we still highly encourage the hunt for the originals! 

By: Steve Johnson (Founder of Garage Art) 

Neon signs beckon customers to stop by. They’re timeless, fun and welcoming. Depending on your business model and clientele, a neon sign for your business may be the right move to draw in customers or invite them to stay a while. You may go the custom route or go with a stock item that’s on brand. In this post, we’ll walk you through a few tips for choosing the perfect neon sign for your business. 


Neon signs pack a punch. That’s why you don’t want to make a frivolous decision when buying one for your place of business. The most important factors to consider are aesthetic and messaging. Who do you want to attract? What does your business stand for? What caters to the tastes of your prime customer base? 

Once you can answer these questions, you can dive into the specifics like design, materials, colors and price point. 

Neon Sign Designs 

Neon signs are a versatile art form. The design you choose will depend on your budget, space and how much attention you want the sign to draw. One of the most popular and classic designs is the 36’’ circular sign. The 36’’ size draws attention without being obtrusive. You can find a plethora of logos, brands and slogans in the 36’’ design in stock at Garage Art for your business. 

LED lighted signs provide ample illumination to light up a space but are more subdued than a typical neon sign. This design is well suited for garages and race shops as it can easily substitute for an otherwise boring light bulb or lamp. 

Marquee neon signs are perfect for businesses that want to add a touch of nostalgia. These signs capture the old school essence patrons are looking for at diners, cafes or bars. 

Simple neon signs highlighting a word or phrase in one or just a couple colors can make your space instantly Instagrammable. Generate organic social media buzz with an Instagram friendly neon sign. Draw some inspiration from these examples

Neon Sign Colors 

Before purchasing or custom designing a neon sign consider the colors you want. Many design-forward companies maintain a style guide with specific colors, fonts and layouts they use for anything tied to the business. Although many businesses aren’t that specific when it comes to design, you want your sign to be on brand

For example, if I want to purchase a Ford sign but I want it to pop and warm up the room, I may choose this red Mustang sign over a classic blue logo sign. 

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