Sunday, November 6, 2011

My little collection of American and Philippine "antique" petroliana signs

This is just a short post that might be of interest to some of the folks who happen to like old service station, gas and oil, and advertising signs and memorabilia.  It's a new hobby of mine - I'm not really too serious or passionate about it, just for fun and to decorate the garage a bit.  So I thought I'd upload to the blog a picture of some of the signs I collected, all within the last year and a half, some of which I picked up in Pennsylvania, and some of which were obtained by my mother-in-law after I scouted the signs out during our trip to my wife's hometown in the Philippines. 



American gasoline/oil signs (antique): 

The Tiolene sign is "porcelain" (meaning steel core coated with beautiful colored porcelain glazing, which was probably phased out for stamped tin or steel signs by the mid-50's),  I think about 26" in diameter, and was made by the Pure Oil Company in Pennsylvania in 1937.  It's not in the greatest of shape, but its cobalt blue (which unfortunately came out too dark in the photo) and white color pattern and neat type font and graphics are pretty stunning to me.  The small "Ethyl" sign is also porcelain and has gorgeous glazed colors too, but shows some significant rust and corrosion.  I would say it dates from the 20's or perhaps 30's, although I am not sure (please post a comment if you read this and have more information).  It is curved to fit the curved contour surface of a gas pump from that era.  I like the contrasting black and yellow, the Art Deco "sunburst" of yellow behind the black triangle, and the phrasing of the logo "Ethyl Gasoline Corporation, New York, USA".  Finally, the Armstrong Rhino-Flex Tires sign has some really interesting graphics, and is stamped tin or steel coated with somewhat reflective paint.  It's in not too bad of shape but has a slight crease.   From my research on the internet including advertisements in magazines with the exact same logo of the rhinoceros, I estimate that this sign is pre-1956 and post-1951.   The artist who illustrated the Rhino, Keith Ward, was a famous and prolific illustrator who had some iconic assignments including the original "Dick and Jane" reading primer illustrations, superb illustrations in "The Scandalous Adventures of Reynard the Fox" in 1945, designing "Elsie the Cow" for Borden condensed milk, the Texaco Fire Chief Dalmatians, and "Elmer the Bull" for the Elmer's glue.   Here is a link to a blog which has a page about Keith Ward's work:

http://todaysinspiration.blogspot.com/2007/10/keith-ward-1906-2000.html

For the 3 of these signs together I paid $100 at a flea market, so in comparison to the prices I see on Ebay and the prices that the guys on 'American Pickers' turn their signs around for, I feel that I got a pretty good deal.   These things are collectible in any condition, so I thought they made a nice addition to my otherwise very bland garage wall.  

Philippine propane and epoxy signs (age unknown):

The remaining 4 various Philippine signs are either propane vendors (three of them) or an advertisement for epoxy adhesive (one of them), and all are made of very thin steel (which made bringing them back home from the Philippines quite easy after I popped them out of their wooden frames).   I thought that the artwork and color on them was quite nice, and to have them as a souvenir/memorabilia of our trip and of our "second home" was pretty neat.  I was very grateful that my mother-in-law simply asked for these signs, and was given them - "ask and you shall receive", I suppose.  Just my own personal preference, but I actually prefer signs with some rust and character to them as opposed to a mint-looking sign, which tends to look like a reproduction to me.    I don't think these are terribly old, perhaps early 70's at the oldest, but I think they look pretty neat.   I think it would be neat to stimulate some interest in collecting these amongst citizens of the Philippines - not necessarily to create a market for them, but just to hopefully preserve some from the scrap heap/recycling, which is unfortunately where a vast majority of such things end up.   If anyone from the Philippines reads this and has any information about these signs or the companies, I would love to have you comment about them.   

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