The Fascinating History of Collecting Gas Station Signs, Gas Pumps, and Gas Globes

Automotive sign collectors enthusiasts have long been captivated by the charm of gas station memorabilia. From vintage gas station signs and gas pumps to colorful gas globes, these artifacts from a bygone era hold a special place in the hearts of collectors. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the rich history of collecting gas station signs, gas pumps, and gas globes. We will explore the origins of this hobby, its evolution over time, the iconic pieces that have gained legendary status, and the dedicated community of enthusiasts who keep this passion alive.

The Birth of Gas Station Collecting

Gas station collecting had humble beginnings. It all started when the automobile industry was in its infancy during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Gasoline, once a relatively uncommon commodity, became more readily available as the demand for automobiles grew. Gas stations began to pop up across the United States, and with them came the need for signage to attract customers

History of Collecting Gas Station Signs

The Rise of Gasoline Advertising

As gas stations became more prevalent, the competition between them intensified. To stand out, gas station owners started to invest in eye-catching signs to draw motorists to their pumps. These early signs were often made of porcelain enamel and featured vibrant colors and intricate designs. They showcased the brand of gasoline being sold and became a vital marketing tool.

The Birth of Gas Pumps

Around the same time, gas pumps evolved from rudimentary hand-cranked devices to more sophisticated machines. These early gas pumps were often adorned with decorative elements and served as functional pieces of art. Collectors soon recognized the historical and aesthetic value of these vintage pumps.

The Nostalgia Factor

As the decades passed, many gas stations and their iconic signs disappeared, replaced by modern, generic designs. This led to a sense of nostalgia for a simpler time when the open road beckoned and filling up at a quaint, locally-owned gas station was an adventure in itself. This nostalgia played a significant role in fueling the interest of automotive sign collectors enthusiasts.

The Evolution of Collecting Gas Station Memorabilia

Gas station memorabilia collecting evolved as a hobby during the mid-20th century. What was once a casual interest among a few enthusiasts began to gain momentum, and collectors started organizing events and swapping stories about their acquisitions.

Early Collectors’ Clubs

The first collectors’ clubs dedicated to gas station memorabilia were formed during the 1950s and 1960s. These clubs allowed enthusiasts to connect with like-minded individuals, share their collections, and trade items. These early gatherings laid the foundation for the thriving community of automotive sign collectors enthusiasts we see today.

History of Collecting Gas Station Signs

The Role of the Internet

The advent of the internet in the late 20th century had a profound impact on the hobby. Online forums, auction websites, and social media platforms provided collectors with unprecedented access to a global marketplace. Collectors could now buy, sell, and trade gas station signs, gas pumps, and gas globes with ease, making it easier for enthusiasts to find rare and valuable pieces.

Iconic Pieces and Legendary Finds

Throughout the history of collecting gas station memorabilia, certain pieces have become legendary and are highly sought after by automotive sign collectors enthusiasts. These iconic items hold a special place in the hearts of collectors and often command high prices at auctions.

The Flying A Sign

The Flying A sign is one of the most iconic gas station signs ever produced. Featuring a distinctive winged logo, it was used by the Tidewater Oil Company, which later merged with the Flying A Petroleum Corporation. Today, this sign is highly prized by collectors for its unique design and historical significance.

Flying "A" Motor Oil Company Sign 13"

Wayne Model 866 Gas Pump

The Wayne Model 866 gas pump, produced in the 1930s, is considered a masterpiece of art deco design. Its sleek lines, chrome accents, and illuminated glass cylinder make it a coveted item among collectors. Finding a well-preserved Model 866 in good working condition is a dream come true for many enthusiasts.

Gas Globes

Gas globes, which adorned the tops of gas pumps, are also highly collectible. These glass globes often featured the logos and branding of the gasoline companies. Rare and beautifully designed gas globes can fetch substantial sums at auctions and are prized by collectors for their aesthetic appeal and historical significance.

The Thriving Community of Collectors

One of the most remarkable aspects of collecting gas station signs, gas pumps, and gas globes is the passionate and tightly-knit community of enthusiasts that has developed over the years. Automotive sign collectors enthusiasts come from diverse backgrounds and share a common love for preserving the history of the gasoline industry and the golden age of motoring.

Collector’s Stories

Collectors often have fascinating stories behind their acquisitions. These stories range from uncovering a rare gas pump in a dusty barn to meticulously restoring a damaged gas station sign. Sharing these stories with fellow enthusiasts adds depth and meaning to the hobby.


Restoration and Preservation

Many collectors are also skilled at restoring and preserving vintage gas station memorabilia. They take great pride in bringing old, weathered pieces back to their former glory, ensuring that these artifacts will be enjoyed for generations to come.

Annual Shows and Swap Meets

Automotive sign collectors enthusiasts gather at annual shows and swap meets to showcase their collections and trade items. These events offer a unique opportunity for collectors to connect, learn from each other, and discover new pieces for their collections.

The history of collecting gas station signs, gas pumps, and gas globes is a testament to the enduring fascination with the golden age of motoring and the aesthetics of a bygone era. What started as a niche interest has grown into a thriving community of automotive sign collectors enthusiasts who are dedicated to preserving the history and artistry of the gasoline industry.

Signs, Signs, Signs, Everywhere Are Signs

As collectors continue to seek out rare and iconic pieces, the hobby remains vibrant and dynamic. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or just starting to explore the world of gas station memorabilia, one thing is certain: the allure of vintage signs, pumps, and globes will continue to captivate the hearts of automotive sign collectors enthusiasts for generations to come.