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    

Antique 1947 Mobil Mobilgas Restroom Pledge 7.75" X 7" Porcelain Gas & Oil SignAntique Mobil White Daly's Gas Pump Globe Lens Pair 14 3/4"Gargoyle Mobiloil "bb" Lubricant Oil Meta Can Vtg Petroleum Gas Collectible CarVintage Mobil Mobiloil 11 3/4" Porcelain Pegasus Sign! Gas & Oil Pump PlateVintage Danbury Mint Mobil Gas Service Station Display - Gas Pumps - CoaGargoyle Mobiloil A Medium Body Oil Metal Can Vtg Petroleum Gas Collectible CarVintage Mobilgas Restroom Porcelain Sign West Coast Black Boarder Rare 8 X 7 3/4Vintage Mobil Mobiloil 18" X 12" Double Sided Porcelain Gasoline Oil Flange SignVintage Mobil Gas & Oil Porcelain Advertising Gasoline Pump Sign1920's 5-gallon Oil Can Mobiloil Mobil Gargoyle Theme Ratrod LookMobiloil Gargoyle Vacuum Oil Company Porcelain Sign Service Gas Station VintagePegasus Flying Horse Red Mobil Gas Oil Gasoline Station Neon Sign Beer Bar LightVintage Rare 1949, 1950, 1951 Mobiloil Lubrication Recommendations ChartsVintage Socony Vacuum Mobil Handy Oil Old 4 Oz. Lead Spout Oiler Oil CanVintage Mobil Mobiloil Gargoyle Race Car 16" X 10" Metal 2 Sided Flange Sign Nr!Original Mobil Pegasus License Plate Topper Gas Oil Tough Ribbed Version VintageVintage Vhtf Mobil Oil & Gas Flying Red Pegasus Silver Zippo Stainless SteelVintage Mobilgas Socony Vacuum Pegasus Gasoline Porcelain Shield Gas & Oil SignOld Mobil Oil Pegasus Pedal Car Hood Or Bicycle Fender Advertising OrnamentVintage 1940s Credit Card Gas Station 2 Side 18" Porcelain Metal Sign~gulf MobilVery Rare Early Mobiloil "a" Gargoyle Wooden Crate / Box For 1 QuartVintage Mobil Gas Porcelain Pump Plate Original Authentic SignAntique Mobil Mobiloil Aero 11 3/4" Porcelain Gas & Oil Sign Pump Plate AviationMobil Pegasus Mobiloil Oil Can Porcelain Gas Pump Sign Or Lubester Plate Nice!"mobil Gas Special" Vintage Pump Plate Lubester Steel Porcelain Advertising SignVintage Mobil Mobilgas 11 3/4" Porcelain Pegasus Sign Gas & Oil Pump Plate! Nr!Vintage Mobilgas Socony Vacuum 5" X 3 1/4" Porcelain License Plate Topper Sign!No Smoking Red Pegasus Socony-vacuum Porcelain Enamel Mobil Oil Gas Pump SignGas Pump Globe Mobil Gargoyle Globe Screw Base Brass 6" Outside 5" InsideVintage Mobil Mobilfuel Diesel 11 3/4" Porcelain Pegasus Gas & Oil SignVintage Old Gargoyle Mobil Oil Porcelain Enamel Sign Board, U.s.a. Rare Mobil Aviation Socony Vacuum Porcelain Gas Motor Oil Pump Plate Sign VintageVintage Mobil Mobilgas "visible Gas Pump" 9" Porcelain Pegasus Sign! Plate Oil!Vintage Mobil Mobiloil & Gargoyle 11 3/4" Porcealin Gas & Oil Thermometer Sign!!Flying A Tidewater Porcelain Restroom Sign General Store Gas Oil Mobil TexacoMobil Oil Corporation High Pressure Pipeline Warning Porcelain SignVintage Mobil Socony Vacuum Aviation 14" X 10" Porcelain Gas & Oil Sign AirplaneYellow Jacket Brand Trapper Knife Mobil Gas "motor Oil - Gasoline" Nice!Pegasus Graphics *1950s Vintage Mobil Motor Oil Old 5 Gal. Metal CanVintage Mobil Oil Company Pegasus Cast Metal Award Trophy Employee Service GasMobilgas Pegasus Porcelain Pump Sign Metal Garage Station Red HorseGargoyle Mobiloil Mobil "af" Oil Spout Cap 1 Quart Peerless Oil Dispenser Co.Lot Of Harley Davidson & Gmc Chevy Mobil Gas Metal SignsRare Vintage Mobil Pegasus Sae 20-20 Lubrite Oil Advertising Quart Metal Oil CanOld 1958 Mobil Oil Pegasus Belt Jack Knife Fisher Oil Riverside California S.s Vintage Mobil Oil & Gas Stainless Steel Pen / 18" Pointer Ballpoint Pen Working!1940s Vintage Mobil Mobilgas Special Old Gas Pump Glass SignMobil 12-41 Mobiloil Pegasus Porcelain Sign Vintage Gas Oil Lubester Rack PlateVintage Lubrite Mobiloil Metal Quart Oil Can 1998 Mobil 1:24 Limited Edition Collector's Toy Rollback TruckVintage- Original Pre-1964 1 Qt. Mobil Outboard Tin Motor Oil Can - EmptyVintage 1950's Mobilgas Flying Red Horse Receipt Book. Thiessen's - Ashland, Ne.Vintage Mobil Gargoyle Mobilgrease 1lb Can Nice Clean Writing On Can1940's Vintage Porcelain Mobiloil ''d'' Sided Enamel SignVintage Mobil Mobilgas Special 12" Porcelain Pegasus Sign Gas & Oil! Pump Plate!Mobilgas Mobil Sign Mechanic On Duty Oil Garage Gas Station Tow TruckVtg Flying Red Horse Pegasus Mobilgas Mobiloil First Aid Kit Metal Tin Mobil Vintage Original Ohio Advertising Company Clock With Mobilgas Glass No Reserve!!Vintage Mobilgas Porcelain Gas Pump Sign Vintage Mobiloil Special 1 Quart Metal Motor Oil Can