Gulf Oil was founded in 1901, the year the Lucas Gusher erupted at Spindletop near the east-Texas city of Beaumont on the Gulf of Mexico. The oil strikes in and around Beaumont signaled the beginning of a Texas oil boom that also created companies like Texaco, Humble (later renamed Exxon), and Shell.

Though associated with Beaumont, Gulf is also claimed by Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The northeastern was the home of its largest investor, William Mellon, and in 1913, Gulf opened the first drive-in service station there at the corner of Baum and St. Clair streets. When that station opened, Gulf was not yet using its familiar orange globe with the word “GULF” emblazoned on it in large, blocky, capital letters. Instead, the signage promised “GOOD GULF GASOLINE,” a slogan that was used until the middle of the 20th century.

Almost from the beginning, road maps with the Gulf name on them were produced for motorists. Naturally Texas maps were among the first, but by the 1920s, when the orange Gulf logo was finally ubiquitous, road maps were printed for other states where Gulf gasoline was sold, as well as major metropolitan areas.

Ink blotters also got the Gulf branding treatment. These thick, rectangular sheets were widely used until ballpoint pens took over from fountain pens after World War II. Gulf ink blotters promoted various Gulf products, including Good Gulf and No-Nox Gasolines, Supreme Motor and Auto Oil, a pesticide called Gulf Venom (later renamed Gulfspray), and a heating oil called Gulf Solar Heat.

Porcelain and tin signs are favorites of Gulf petroliana collectors. Early signs from the 1930s and ’40s have parallel blue lines or solid tints on the white sections of the lettering to create shading and give the brand's name drama and dimension. Later signs lacked these shading devices, and even more recent signs did away with the white outlines altogether. On those signs, only the first letter of the word Gulf was capitalized, while a white band extending across the circular logo like a belt differentiated the blue letters from their orange background.

Variations of these logos appeared on oil and gasoline cans, oil bottles, and gasoline pumps. The circular Gulf logo lent itself perfectly to the shape of the globes that used to crown gas pumps, while shields on the sides of these pumps advertised “That Good Gulf Gasoline” and “No-Nox Ethyl,” one of the first uses of the No-Nox name.

As with other brands of gasoline, Gulf signs and other advertising pieces created for aviation and marine uses are less common than those created for service stations, simply bec...

More common are promotional items with the Gulf logo on them. These range from still banks to belt buckles, coffee mugs to shot glasses, golf balls to marbles. In the 1960s, Gulf hired the Canadian comedy duo of Wayne & Shuster to give voice and face to its “We Hurry” advertising campaign. One of the products that resulted from the campaign were Converse-like canvas high-top tennis shoes, which had round Gulf logos on them where the Converse logo would normally be. Proving that even a multinational petroleum conglomerate could have a self-deprecating sense of humor, the company made pins with the words “We hurry” at the top and an upside-down Gulf logo below.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Primarily Petroliana

Primarily Petroliana

Jim Potts’ site for petroliana collectors, featuring image galleries and community features such as a discussion … [read review or visit site]

Alan Chandler’s impressive collection of early British and European petroliana, including galleries with beautifu… [read review or visit site]

Petromobilia Switzerland

Petromobilia Switzerland

Alex Wyler’s site is mostly in German, but the collection and images speak for themselves. You’ll find old gas … [read review or visit site]

Falvo Collectables Gallery

Falvo Collectables Gallery

Ralph and Carol Falvo's excellent collection of automobiles, petroliana, jukeboxes, soda, and general store items. … [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage 1950's Gulf Knockproof Gasoline Gas Pump Plate Porcelain Metal Sign~niceGood Gulf Gasoline Oil Pump Plate Vintage Thick Porcelain Old Heavy Steel Sign.Vintage Good Gulf Gasoline 11 3/4" Porcelain Gas Oil Pump Plate Sign Lubster NrVintage C.1960 Gulf No-nox Gasoline Gas Pump Plate Porcelain Metal Sign~nice21" Porcelain Good Gulf Gasoline Double Sided Heavy Metal Flange SignAmerican Flyer Gilbert #768 Gulf Oil Supply Depot + 8 Lionel BillboardsVintage C.1960 Good Gulf Gasoline Gas Pump Plate Porcelain Metal SignLot Of 13 Vintage Oiler Oil Cans Gulf G.m. Standard Oil Outers Gun Oil Others NrNear Mint 1950s Vintage Gulf Gulftane Old Gas Pump Plate Porcelain SignGulf Keys Service Station Lock Box Steel Key Cabinet Mechanic Gas Pump Oil NrMth Rail King Gulf Oil Company Pittsburgh Pa.tank Tanker Car 10247 30-7059aVintage C.1960 Gulf Gulftane Gasoline Gas Pump Plate Porcelain Metal Sign~niceGulf Gasoline Vintage Porcelain Gas Oil Sign Pump Lubester Service Station4 Vintage Oil Cans Gulf, Sunoco, Mobil, RpmVintage C.1960 Good Gulf Gasoline Gas Pump Plate Porcelain Metal SignLionel 6025 Gulf Oil Black Tanker O Gauge TrainsVintage Gulf Oil Can, Gulflube, Blue Checkers, Metal Quart.. FullGulf Gasoline Vintage Porcelain Sign Gas Pump Oil Service Station Lubester Vintage Gulf Gulfoil Household Oil Can- 4 Oz., Lead Spout And Cap, Full 1930's(12) 1930's Supreme Gulf Oil Road Map(s) - Exc Cond.Old Original 5 Quart Gulf Gulflube Paraffine Motor Oil Can - Empty Five Qt.(10) 1931 Supreme Gulf Oil Road Map(s) - Exc Cond.Old Gulf Porcelain Sign Le Mans 20" Heavy Convex Gasoline Oil Lubester RacingLot Of 10 Vintage Oil And Grease Cans Allstate Gulf Penn Drake Chevron Quaker1933 Gulf Oil Chicago Worlds Fair Road Map + (9) 1930's 40"s Gulf Travel - Exc S Scale American Flyer 5016 Gulf Oil Co Tank Car Train(9) 1930 Supreme Gulf Oil Road Map(s) - Vg / Exc Cond.Outboard And Snowmobile Oil Cans Valvoline Gulf Castrol Rislone Mccullogh Cott Vintage Good Gulf Gasoline 11 3/4" Porcelain Gas Oil Pump Plate Sign Lubster NrVintage Gulf Oil Deluxe Crown Service Station Tin Sign Gasoline Tires Nr! Old Vintage Good Gulf Porcelain Enamel Gas Pump Plate Sign Oil Original Station1/18 True Scale Tsm Gulf Oil PackHot Wheels Datsun 620 Truick - "gulf Oil"Gulf Supreme Motor Oil Can Shaped 3-d Metal Embossed Gas Service Station 8" SignVintage Outboard Motor Oil/gear Lube Can - Gulf - Twin Cap/spout - Nice - Nr - 6Vintage 1950's Gulf Gas & Oil Rotary Telephone Dialer Advertising PieceTyco Lot Of 3 Triple Dome Tank Car Gulf Oil Rolling Stock Ho ScaleVintage Antique Gulf Gas Lp-gas Thermometer Gallatin Propane Gas CompanyThat Good Gulf Gasoline Tin Sign Gas Motor Oil Pump Plate Vintage No NoxCmw - Classic Metal Works - Ho Scale - 1954 Ford F700 Tank Truck - Gulf Oil Gulf Gas & Oil Gasoline Embossed Metal Sign Shop Garage Man Cave.Lionel 6025 Gulf Oil Orange Tanker O Gauge TrainVintage 2 Gallon Oil Can- GulfLionel Postwar 6425 Gulf Oil Tank Car With Original Box - EucCast Iron Advertising Gulf Motor Oil Sold Here Sign Plaque Vintage Antique GasGulf Sign Gas Motor Oil Enamel Porcelain Pump Plate Vintage Bubble Curved No NoxVintage Gulf Oil CanVintage Gulf Oil Company Supreme Auto Oil Oil Blotter Pump Can Sign Nice!Vintage Gulf Oil Company Port Tampa Florida Brass Token Sign Oil Can Nr! Gulf Oil Can 5 QuartLot Of 6 Vintage Gulf Quart Oil CansGulf Supreme Motor Oil Refining Corp Embossed Metal Can Man CaveMobil Gas Station Gas & Oil Full Service Station Sign Mobil Oil Can Texaco GulfGulf Sign Gas Motor Oil Enamel Porcelain Pump Plate Vintage Bubble Curved No NoxVintage Gulf Oil Company Wrist Watch Very Neat Nr! Oil Can Sign CollectibleGulf Oil Co Credit Card No Expiration Computer Bumps Nice Logos On BackBurnco Cutlery Cheese Hatchet From Ankney Gulf New Washington, Ohio GeorgeGulf Oil Credit Card With Original Mailing Circa 1952 Laminated As MadeGulf Gas & Oil Embossed Arrow Next Right Metal Sign Sales Dealer Service ShopGulf Oil Co. Decal Reads "this Is A Non-gulf Product"