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 Rare Porcolien Mobifuel Disel Mobil Oil Pegathis Gas Station Sign Mc-axMobilgas Special 49 Porcelain Sign Original Red Flying Pegasus Pump Oil ServiceVintage Mobil Gas Pegasus Flying Horse - Drive Safely - License Plate TopperPorcelain Vacuum Motor Car Oils Mobiloil Flange Sign 20.5" X 16"~no Reserve~niceMobil Premium Gasoline Pump Porcelain Sign Service Station Oil Red Pegasus Nice3 Can Lot Vintage Mobiloil 1 Qt. Metal Oil Cans - Mobil Socony Pegasus Gas CanVintage 1930**rare** Socony Motor Oil Porcelain Sign Mobil Gas OilDanbury Mint Mobil Gas Station ClockMobil Sign 12 Inch Metal Lot Of 10 Vintage 1 Quart Oil Cans Mobil Texaco Cities Service Kendall PennzoilMobilgas Mobil Gasoline Porcelain Enamel Sign Pump Plate Vintage Gas & Oil BrandMobil Regular Gas Pump Filling Service Station Porcelain Sign 14x12 Red PegasusMobil Regular Gas Pump Filling Service Station Porcelain Sign 14x12 Red PegasusNear Mint Nos Full 1950s Vintage Mobil Outboard Motor Oil Old 1 Qt Metal Can2 Can Lot Vintage 2 Gallon Cities Service Blue Club Motor Oil Cans - Citgo MobilLot Of 11 Vintage Mobil Oil Gas Service Station Porcelain Sign Letters3 Can Lot Vintage Mobiloil 1 Qt. Metal Oil Cans - Mobil Socony Pegasus Gas CanMobil Flying Pegasus SignMobiloil Gasoline Metal Flange Gas Oil Sign Pump Vintage Porcelain Gas Sign Near Mint 1940s Vintage Socony Vacuum Mobil Lubrite Motor Oil Old 1 Qt. Tin CanVintage Early Brass Gargoyle Mobil Mobiloil A Arctic Gas Station Sign Oil Tag2 Can Lot Vintage Mobil 1 Qt. Metal Freezone Cans - Mobiloil Socony Pegasus GasGil Elvegren 1940's Pin-up Girl Art Mobilgas Advertising Glass Tip Tray 6"x5" NrGil Elvegren 1940's Pin-up Girl Art Mobilgas Advertising Glass Tip Tray 6"x5" NrMobilgas Gasoline Vintage Porcelain Gas Sign Pump Oil Service Station Oil Rare Vintage Mobil Gas & Oil Gas & Oil Co Advertising Mobilube For Gears Oil CanVintage Mobilgrease Uw For Underwater Gears Mobil Oil Socony Vacuum Oil Co. Mobilgas Gasoline Porcelain Enamel Gas Pump Oil Lubester Service Station SignMobil Red Horse Service Station Key Box Keys Storage Automotive MechanicMobilgas Special Sign Porcelain Enamel Mobil Pegasus Vintage Gas & Oil BrandMobil Regular Gas Pump Filling Service Station Porcelain Sign Rolled Edges Oil Mobil Pegasus Gas Vintage Porcelain Sign Lubester Plate Service Station Oil PumpVintage 1940's Mobil Freezone 25c Anti-freeze Gas Oil 26" SignRare Vintage Mobiloil White Motor Oil Old 1 Qt. Metal Oil Can No Reserve ! !Mobil No Smoking Garage Sign Mechanic Red Horse Gas Service Station Gasoline Very Nice Vintage Mobiloil Pegasus Advertising Lighter Made By Zenith Mfg.Vintage Mobil Oil Hat Collection ~ Mesh Snapback ~ Pegasus ~texas New Mexico CapRare Authentic Vintage Mobil Pegasus Motorcycle HelmetMobil Gas Bowser Oil Mobiloil Flying Horse Vintage Petrol Pump Globe Light ✔✔Vintage Mobil Pump Plate Sign Oil Gas Gasoline Regular Original Man Cave GarageVintage Glass Baseball Bank Mobil Gas Red Pegasus Blue StitchingMobil Permazona Gallon Tin Anti-freeze Socony Vacuum Red Flying Pegasus Oil NyMobil Red Horse Sign Service Station Mechanic Gasoline Oil Gas PumpMd2-526 1960 Vintage De Soto Mobilgas Economy Run California 4"x5" Orig NegVintage Recognition Plaque For Mobil Service Station Owner 25 YearsRare Vintage Mobil Freezone Motor Oil Old 1 Qt. Metal Oil Can No Reserve ! ! !Md2-563 1950's Americana Vintage Autos Mobiloil Service Station 2 1/4 " Orig NegMobil Hydrotone Cooling System Tin Can 8 Oz Socony Mobil Oil Red Flying PegasusMobil 1 Oil Blue Pegasus France Patch Gas Service Station Jacket Work Shirt Vintage Recognition Plaque For Mobil Service Station Owner 24 Years1962 Mobil Oil Wall Callander Md2-562 1950's Americana Vintage Autos Mobiloil Service Station 2 1/4 " Orig NegVintage Water Transfer Decal - "mobil Arctic Special Oil" - 9" DiameterFord, Taunus ,good Year,castrol ,mobiloil Lot 10 Vintage Pin Badge Usa GermanyMobil Jet Oil 254 Can BankMobil 1993 Limited Edition Toy Tanker Truck Collector Series In BoxAutomotive Flying Horse Mobil Oil Round Sew On Patch 2-1/2" In Diameter 1970s Vintage Mobil Heavy Duty Motor Oil Old 1 Qt Paper/ CanPorcelain Mobil Regular Pump Plate 14x12 *no Reserve*Vintage Esso Mini Salt & Pepper Paper Labeled Shakers & Mobil Leather Key Holder