The history of Mobil Oil encompasses brands as well known as Exxon, Standard, and Socony and as obscure as Vacuum Oil, which was founded in 1866. Vacuum’s first big product was Gargoyle 600-W Steam Cylinder Oil, an engine lubricant patented in 1869 and still in use today.

In the 20th century, Mobil’s evolution paralleled its most famous brand, the Flying Red Horse or Pegasus, as it’s also known. Curiously, the Flying Red Horse was introduced as a white-winged steed in 1911, the year an antitrust lawsuit divided Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey into 33 smaller companies, including Standard Oil of New York, or Socony. The Mobil brand was used in Socony products, as well as Socony-Vacuum products after the merger of those two companies in 1931. By 1966, the company was finally known as Mobil, and “Peggy’s” flight path had switched from ascending to the left to rising to the right.

Since Mobil products and those of its forebears were sold internationally, petroliana collectors around the world look for oil bottles, cans, signs, gas globes, gas pumps, calendars, and even matchbooks with Mobiloil, Mobilgas, Mobilubricant, Mobilfuel, Mobilgrease, and other brands on them. Mobil objects bearing Pegasus are obviously popular, but so are those marked with a red gargoyle, harkening back to the company’s Vacuum Oil roots.

Vintage Mobil signs range from square flanges and shield-shaped pump plates to horse-shaped “cookie cutters” and round “lollipops,” which were attached to the tops of bulk-oil dispensers. Sometimes signs offer clues to their origins, such as a Gargoyle/Mobiloil sign from the 1930s with the words “Rochester U.S.A.” on it—the prominence of the name of the upstate New York city suggests the sign was produced by a non-U.S. manufacturer of Gargoyle products, for whom the “U.S.A.” designation was probably a selling point.

Like the signs, some of the earliest Mobiloil cans also share branding with Gargoyle. The labels on these one-quart cylindrical and square cans are generally made of paper, which means finding one in pristine condition is next to impossible. Some of the most interesting Gargoyle/Mobiloil cans are the cone-shaped containers produced in Germany before World War II. Other Gargoyle/Mobiloil cans of note include the rectangular half gallons and square gallon varieties, which are filled with everything from “Arctic” oil (designed to work well in cold climates) to type “E” (a blend that was “Especially Recommended for Ford Cars”).

Oil bottles and spouts, along with the racks that displayed them, are also collectible. Look for “Filpruf,” diamond-shaped bottles with embossed gargoyles on their sides. The metal spouts of these bottles were said to be Filpruf because they could only be filled with Mobiloil, which assured the customer that he or she was not being sold an inferior brand.

Other Mobil memorabilia of interest to petroliana collectors includes glassware given away or sold at gas stations. Tumblers bearing the logos of NFL teams are common, while tall frosted glasses made during the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair are less so. The shape and graphics of Mobil 1 oil cans were repurposed from everything from transistor radios to banks, while Pegasus appeared on advertising thermometers, playing cards, folding knives, and cigarette lighters...

Naturally, toy trucks are popular with Mobil collectors, especially among those who also collect tinplate, friction toys produced in postwar Japan. In the United States, Smith-Miller built top-of-the-line Mobil trucks with retractable hoses, while Tootsie Toys made more affordable two-piece vehicles. Other makers of Mobil toy trucks include Dinky Toy of England.

Finally, there’s a good deal of paper for Mobil ephemera collectors. These pieces range from road maps to ink blotters to Flying Red Horse Almanacs. While most of these items are branded with the words Mobil or Socony, but other names to look for include Magnolia, General, and Gilmore, which were acquired by Socony Mobil in 1959.

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    

Rare 30" Dsp Rebel Gas Porcelain Sign Double Sided Flag Mobil Sinclair Dx DeereOld Mobil Pegasus Porcelain Gas Oil Sign (restored) Will Ship!Large Vintage 1920's Mobil Mobiloil Motor Oil 60" Porcelain Metal SignVintage Original Gas Station Motor Oil Bottles W/ Tops And Wire Mobiloil CarrierVintage Porcelain Mobil Gas Aviation Gas Pump Plate Sign Pegasus Socony1930's Shell Gasoline Porcelain Pump Plate Sign Die-cut Mobil Sinclair Dx Deere Mobiloil Porcelain Sign No Reserve Gas Oil Pump Gargoyle Service Station MobilVintage Danbury Mint Mobilgas Mobil Pegasus Sign Gas Pump Service Station ClockMobilgas, Pegasus, Vintage Gas Pump Globe Lens, Capco, Glas Body Globe, Vintage 1958 Mobilgas - Mobil Car Trial Rally Bumper Badge /license Plate TopperOriginal 42" Mobil Marine Porcelain Sign Pegasus With Waves Mobiloil Very Rare Vintage Genuine Mobil Mobilgas Milk Glass Globe Original ConditionMobilgas Special Porcelain Sign Gas And Oil AdvertisingMobil Special Gasoline Porcelain Sign Gas And Oil Mobiloil Standard Vacuum 2 Sided Porcelian Enamel SignRare 1950s Vintage Mobil Pegasus Old 17 Ft. Gas Station Banner SignAll Original Mobiloil Gargoyle " A " Heavy Medium Motor Oil Can One Gallon Vtg Pegasus Mobil Gas Gasoline Glass Globe Insert For Service Station PumpVintage C1930 Mobiloil Gargoyle Lubester Double Sided Porcelain SignRare 1930's 44" Humble Gas Oil Metal Sign Texas Mobil Sinclair Pennzoil Deere Mobiloil Standard Vacuum 2 Sided Porcelian Enamel Sign1920's Mobiloil "af" Metal Oil Bottle Spout Mobil Oil Gargoyle VacuumMobil Mobilgas Porcelain Gas Pump Plate Sign Car Tractor Garage Station Oil CanNos Full * Near Mint * 1950s Vintage Mobil Mobiloil Motor Oil Old 1 Qt Metal CanVintage Original Mobil Oil Flying Horse Pegasus License Plate TopperMobiloil Arctic Porcelian Enamel SignMobilgas Mobilfuel Diesel Porcelain Oil & Gas Pump SignMobil Mobilgas Special Porcelain Gas Pump Plate Sign Car Tractor Garage StationFour Fluid Ounces (0.118 Ltr) Mobil Penetrating Oil Tin, Socony Vacuum, FullNear Mint * 1942 Vintage Mobil Pegasus Motor Oil Old 1 Qt Metal Oil CanVintage Original Mobilube Mobil Pegasus Outboard Gear Oil Can Metal Oiler Sae 90Near Mint Full 1950s Vintage Mobil Pegasus Mobiloil Motor Oil Old 1 Qt Metal CanGargoyle Mobiloil Vacuum Oil Company Porcelian Enamel SignStp Engine Products 3d Metal Sign Super Bird Plymouth Petty Dodge Mopar ChryslerMobilgas Porcelain Sign Gas And Oil Gargoyle Mobiloil Door Push Porcelain Metal Sign ~6" X 4" Gas Pump Oil StationGas Pump Sign, Gas Pump, Gas Station, Gas Globe, Porcelain Sign, Mobil, TexacoVintage 1 Quart Oil Bottle With Tin Spout - Mobil Gargoyle-arctic A-1926 PatentNos Old Antique 40's Vintage Mobil Socony Vacuum Lubrite Pegasus 1 Quart Oil CanMobil Mobilgas Special Oil Gas Gasoline Porcelain SignVintage Original Socony Vacuum Sanilac Axle Grease Oil Can Metal Mobil PegasusMobil Regular Gas Pump Sign Pegasus Porcelain Original Vintage 14x12" 1950sVintage Socony Vacuum Mobil Hand Window Spray Cannister Service Pegasus StationOld Original Rare Gargoyle Mobil Oil "a" Quart Bottle Metal Spout Cap Can SignMobiloil Vintage Mobil Gas Service Station Old Ford Model A T Auto Oil LubesterSocony Vacuum Mobil Oil Gas Sign Original 1950's Station Advertising Credit CardVintage Gargoyle Mobil Oil Porcelain 21.5" X 14" Enamel SignVintage Porcelain Gargoyle Mobil Oil 15.5" X 10" Enamel SignBuick Grand National Sign Turbo 3.8 Regal T Type Gnx Gas Oil Garage Mobil Gulf Gas Station Vintage Sign Service Center, Gulf Mobil Shell Texaco Oil CanTexaco Outboard Motor Oil Vintage Gas Station Sign,oil Can Shell Mobil MancaveVintage Gargoyle Mobiloil Porcelain Sign Mobil Oil Co. With Pegasus Round Advertising KnifeAc Delco Rocket Spark Plug Vintage Look 3d Metal Sign Chevy Ford Usa Nasa Moon Fire King Coffee Mug Rare White Mobil Friendly Service Clean CollectableHolley High Performance Carburetors 3d Metal Sign Gasser Drag Strip Race Hemi RtMobil Tires Porcelain/enamel Sign Circa 1960. Dimensions Approx 8.8' X 2'Mobil Gargoyle 10 Gallon Barrel Can! Amazing! Socony! Nice!Mobil Gas Station Gas Restroom Full Service Station Sign Mobil Oil Can Texaco Mobil Socony - Vacuum Bug-a-boo 1 Quart Can, Vintage Flying Red Horse Logo