FILL ’ER UP: Vintage Gas Pumps Are On Trend

Written by Nicole Ellan James

There’s always an incredible selection of authentic gas pumps selling with No Reserve at every Barrett-Jackson auction.

It seems fitting with the rise of electric vehicles that we take a moment to savor what we love about combustion-powered cars. The whiff of fuel when you crank the engine, the way it makes your car sound, we love it all. That’s right — gasoline.

Lot #8271 – 1960S AO SMITH MODEL 485 GAS PUMP – No Reserve

It can be challenging to picture a moment in time when gas stations weren’t on just about every corner. The first gas stations, also known as filling stations, were very different from the convenience stores we know today. Nostalgic pumps have become items many love to collect.

So, what makes gas pumps collectible in the first place? For some, it’s the brand, color, or era — for others, it is all of the above.

At the onset of the automobile boom, motorists purchased gasoline from grocery stores, hardware stores, machine shops, and even pharmacies that offered it by the gallon.

Sylvanus Freelove Bowser, an American inventor, designed the first kerosene pump to safely dispense kerosene and other “burning fluid and the light combustible products of petroleum.” Bowser’s pumps held up to 42 gallons, and he patented his invention in October 1887.

The first version of the Bowser pump consisted of a square metal tank with a wooden cabinet and a suction pump, operated by hand-stroke lever action. In 1905, the same year the first filling station was constructed, Bowser added a hose attachment and a nozzle to allow gasoline to be dispensed directly into the automobile fuel tank.

At the time, filling clerks would count the number of cranks — or pumps — made with the handle to determine how much gas had been delivered into a customer’s tank, with one crank equating to one gallon. The clerk would put an ear up to the vehicle’s tank and listen for gas filling; some even looked down the pipe to see if the tank was full.

Lot #8279 – 1930S MOHAWK OIL WAYNE 60 GAS PUMP – No Reserve

In 1915, the demand for a more precise way to measure what was being purchased led to the design of towering creations known as visible gas pumps, standing upwards of 10 feet tall.

“Filling a gas tank was still a novel idea at the time,” says Barrett-Jackson Automobilia Director Rory Brinkman. “Motorists were worried about unscrupulous gas station owners shorting them on the product.”

Thus, a transparent cylinder typically held 5 or 10 gallons at the top of each visible pump, marked like a measuring cup.

“By having the cylinder visibly filled, the motorist could watch the amount go down as it was pumped into their tanks, thereby reassuring them that they were receiving exactly what they were paying for,” Brinkman said. He added that the pumps also allowed customers to see the clarity of the gasoline. At the time, motorists were becoming increasingly aware that pollutants in gasoline would harm their engine.

Each pump had a manual lever you’d pull back and forth to pump the gas out of the underground tank into the cylinder; using a release valve, the gas flowed by gravity down the hose into the car.

“Visible gas pumps are most often associated with the Brass and Golden eras of motoring,” Brinkman said. “The most elegant gas pumps are considered those created during the wealthy and opulent Roaring ’20s, exemplifying the period’s taste.”

Lot #8282 – 1923 GULF OIL RAPID DAYTON GAS PUMP – No Reserve

When stand-alone gas stations popped up across the country, different businesses vied to attract customers away from their competitors by catering to the needs of the motorists. They knew that many car owners were not mechanically inclined and needed assistance to keep their vehicles on the road. Filling stations hired mechanics and provided customers with car maintenance and other routine services. Not only did a gas station attendant fill your gas tank for you, but they checked your oil, filled your tires, and cleaned your windshield.

Since art deco was the hottest design trend of the 1920s and 1930s, many gas stations featured this look. In a nod to modern times, they also had many neon signs. Vintage gas station memorabilia have become sought-after collectibles.

During Barrett-Jackson’s Automobilia Auctions, there are often several colorful and ornate gasoline pumps, topped by globes that help advertise the gasoline manufacturer and serve as a safe place to stop and refuel on the dimly lit streets for travelers.

The most sought-after and valuable of them all, however, are inevitably those colossal visible gas pumps. You’re likely to see only one or two at each auction due to their scarcity. The Las Vegas auction

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By: Barrett-Jackson
Title: FILL ’ER UP: Vintage Gas Pumps Are On Trend
Sourced From: www.barrett-jackson.com/Media/Home/Reader/fill-er-up-vintage-gas-pumps-are-on-trend/
Published Date: Mon, 23 May 2022 21:59:48 +0000