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These Vintage Gas Globes Are a Must-Have For Automobilia Enthusiasts

Whether you’re a petroliana collector or simply curious about them, these vintage gas globes are one of the most prized pieces amongst automobilia enthusiasts. Their unique and eye-catching appearance, perched atop service station pumps on dark sleepy highways, have earned them a special place in American history.

Gas globes are spherical glass signs that sat atop service stations in the first half of the 20th century, advertising a specific oil company or brand of gasoline. Generally made from a metal ring with a lens mounted on either side, they were produced in various shapes (like the Shell clamshell) and innumerable designs. Their primary purpose was to broadcast a brand at a distance, allowing motorists to recognize the station from the glow or light it emitted.

As motoring made its way into mainstream America, it was a new form of marketing that became popular for service stations to advertise their gasoline brands to traveling motorists. Curb Signs, Banners and Billboards had already become a common way to attract the attention of traveling Auto Tourists, but the addition of the gas pump globe was a bold and striking way to get the brand out there.

The earliest globes were painted with vibrant and eye-catching colors, but they quickly shifted from the fun and colorful aesthetic of early automobile culture into a more practical form as the technology of the time evolved. By the end of the 50’s they were becoming less and less prevalent, being replaced by a more box-like design as cars got more and more sophisticated and drivers started to prefer fuel efficiency.

As with all vintage items, the condition of a globe will play an important role in its value. Any cracks, chips or dents will significantly decrease the price and value of the piece. A collector should always carefully inspect the glass and make sure there are no issues prior to purchasing a globe.

Regardless of their age, the most valuable gas globes are those that are in mint condition. They should be free of fading to the color and have no cracks or chipping to the glass. It is also worth noting that some unscrupulous dealers or sellers will attempt to sell fantasy, reproduction or even outright fake globes as authentic. Collectors should only purchase from reputable dealers or auction houses that have a strong knowledge of the market.

Aside from the overall condition of the globe, it is also important to check the glass and graphics on the outside. Many older globes were made using a silk screening process, meaning the graphics are actually hand-painted rather than being printed on a decal. This is an important distinction because the difference in quality and authenticity can make a significant impact on the value of a gas globe. Also, as with any item of this nature, it is important to have a skilled conservator/restorer inspect the piece before making a purchase. They may have to perform a significant amount of work to restore the piece to its original glory.

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