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]

Petroliana.co.uk

Petroliana.co.uk

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 C.1950 Mobil Fan Belts Pegasus 33" Metal Gas & Oil Hanger Rack SignOriginal Gargoyle Mobiloil Porcelain Sign, Ford CarsMobilgas Mobilfuel Diesel Porcelain Gas Pump SignMobil Oil Rare Wadhams Double Sided Vintage Porcelain Sign 78" X 70"Nos Unused 1930s Vintage Lubrite Motor Oil Old Tin 15x4 Inch Pegusus Mobil SignVintage Gargoyle Mobiloil Cc Oil Lubricant Can Sign Nice Original UnusedLighted Arrow Metal Sign Red Large Man Cave Theater Carnival Exit Sign NostalgicMobil Oil Gargoyle Vintage Double Sided Porcelain Sign With Flange 24" X 16" Original Mobil Gas Pegasus License Plate Topper Sign Drive SafelyOld Mobil Oil Arctic Pump Badge Porcelain Vintage Gargoyle Mobiloil Porcelain Sign Vacumm Oil Co,ask For Gargoyle,oldLighted Arrow Metal Sign Garage Man Cave Theater Diner Body Shop Retro Ford Mobiloil Gargoyle Antique Triangle Oil TinVintage Mobil Oil "a" Gargoyle 5 Gallon Can Wood Crate Mobiloil SignOriginal Porcelain Mobil Oil Gargoyle 2 Sided Flanged Mobiloil Sign 24" X 15"Old And Original Porcelain Mobil Gas And Oil Sign Off An Old Service StationVintage 1940's Mobiloil Mobil Pegasus Motor Oil 2 Sided 62" Porcelain Metal SignVintage Mobil Oil Mobilgrease No.5 Tin Vacuum Oil Company Grease Mobil Mobilgas Served Here- Enamel Sign PegasusVintage Mobil Oil Bb Gargoyle Filpruf Bottle 1920sBeautiful Vintage Mobil Porcelain Gas Station Premium Fueling Tank SignVintage 1930s Mobiloil Gargoyle Mobil Motor Oil 2 Sided 61" Porcelain Metal SignVintage Porcelain 1946 Mobilgas Special Sign Off Pump- Very Nice!!!Vintage Porcelain 1949 Mobilgas Sign Off Pump Original-beauty!!!Original Mobilgas Gasoline, Pump Half GlobeVintage Mobil Oil Bottle Tin Spout & Cap-gargoyle Logo-arcticVintage Mobil Regular Porcelain Gas Pump Plate Sign Pegasus Pegasus - Rare Round Porcelain Plate Sign Mobil Gas Oil - No Reserve!Vintage Mobil Oil Can Spilling Coin Savings Bank Gas Station Advertising Rare Near Mint * Pegasus 1950s Vintage Mobil Regular Old Gas Pump Porcelain SignNear Mint * Small Size 1950s Vintage Mobil Premium Old Gas Pump Porcelain SignNear Mint * Large Size 1950s Vintage Mobil Regular Old Gas Pump Porcelain SignNear Mint * Small Size 1950s Vintage Mobil Regular Old Gas Pump Porcelain SignRare Wadhams Mobiloil Gargoyle Process 3 Gal Special Close-out Oil Can 1934Mobil Gas Station Gas & Oil Full Service Station SignMobil Checkered Pegasus Flag Oil Sign Gas Station Banner Mint Condition 3x5 FeetMobil Gas And Oil Key Box Sign, Gas Station,teaxco, Gulf,shell,oil Can, Service Vintage Mobiloil "bb" Gargoyle Oil Spout W/peerless 1 Qt. BottleMobil Gas Station Gas & Oil Full Service Station SignVintage Mobil Oil Pegasus Ash Tray 1950's! New And Original1960s Cromwell X3 Oil Sign,texaco/mobil/gulf/sunoco Gas Station Used.22x9,mintGas & Oil/boe Mfg.co.minneapolis,minn./motor Oil Bottle/glass/quart/mobil PourerTexaco Motor Oil Can Metal Gas Station Man Cave Garage Chevy Work Shop Ford SignMobil Handy Oil Can 4oz - BlueMobil Fan Belts Rack Sign - Vintage - Great Condition - 33 Inches Long4 Vintage Unused Mobil Gas Boost For The Cincinnati Reds Baseball Window DecalOriginal Vintage Mobil Oil Gas Thermometer Sign Bathke Oil Co. Greene,iowa Sign Pennzoil Safe Lubrication Sign Gas Motor Oil Vintage Style Texaco Mobil SinclairOriginal Mobil Premium Porcelain Gas Pump Plate Sign Vintage Mobilgas/oil Exit Way Out Metal Sign Garage Man Cave Theater Movie Cinema Body Shop Bar RetroVintage Mobil Handy Oil Tin Can 4 Oz Rare Original C1920's Vintage Gargoyle Mobiloil Porcelain Sign Gas Oil SignSocony Gasoline Mirror Oil Sign Mobiloil Mobilgas Pump Globe Vintage, Mobil Oil, Tire/tube Repair Kit, With Some Contents, Oil CanMobil Artic Gas & Oil Company Pump Can Red Collectible Petroleum Decal GarageToy Mobilgas StationMobil Oil Company Advertising Glass Bottle Hand Lotion Pegasus Flying Red HorseNice * 1950s Vintage Mobil Mobiloil Motor Oil Old 5 Qt Metal CanVery Nice * Small Size 1950s Vintage Mobil Premium Old Gas Pump Porcelain SignTexaco Non Porcelain Sign Texaco Metal Cash Box Gas Station Box Not Mobil Nice!!