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    

Original Mobilgas Socony-vacuum Pegasus Porcelain Advertising SignVintage 1930**rare**mobil Porcelain Double Sided Mobilgas Oil Sign. Fill Up!Original Socony Vacuum Mobiloil Gas Oil Porcelain Pegasus Shield Sign Will Ship!Mobiloil Mobill Vacuum Motor Oil Bottle Tin TopWarning Bigfoot Area Stay On Marked Trails Embossed Metal Sign Sasquatch AnimalVintage C.1930 Mobil Mobiloil "b" Gargoyle Motor Oil 2 Sided Metal Lubester SignMobiloil Mobil One Imperial Quart Embossed Oil Bottle Property Of Vacuum Oil CoMobil Oil Pegasus Drive Safely License Plate TopperVintage C.1960 Mobil Pegasus Gasoline Gas Pump Plate 14" Porcelain Metal SignMobilgas, Mobilefuel, Diesel Porselain Gas Pump SignVintage Original Mobil Tin Gas Pump Plate Not PorcelainMobilgas 1950s Porcelain Pegasus Gas Pump Sign Not Shell Sinclair No ReserveVery Nice Original Mobilgas Special "dropleg" Porcelain Pump PlateMobilgas Special 1950s Porcelain Pegasus Gas Pump Sign No Reserve1940 Mobil Oil Pegasus Porcelain Sign,not A Repo,original,nos,gas/oil No SmokingNice * 1950s Vintage Mobil Mobiloil Pegasus Motor Oil Old 1 Qt. Metal CanOld Original * Pegasus 1950s Vintage Mobil Regular Gas Pump Porcelain SignVery Rare! 1946 Mobilgas Mobiloil Porcelain Pump Plate Pegasus Sign Gas Oil 1930's Old Vintage Porcelain 18.5" X 18" Mobilgas Flying Horse Enamel Sign.Mobil Oil Gas Large Pegasus Dealer Or Vip Desk Cast Metal Advertising AshtrayVintage Mobil Oil Bb Gargoyle Filpruf 1 Qt Bottle & Cap 1920's MobiloilNear Mint 1940s Wwii Vintage Mobil Radiator Flush Old 1qt Oil Glass Bottle ~ CanVintage Mobil Oil Authorized Service Porcelain Enamel Ad Sign BoardMobiloil Gargoyle Porcelain SignGargoyle Mobil Motor Oil Hm Brass Oil Tag Vintage 1920s Petroleum MobiloilMobiloil Flange Sign. Porcelain GargoyleVintage Original Mobil Porcelain Sign Double Sided With PegasusVintage Mobil Oil Standard Vacuum Porcelain Enamel Ad Sign Board 1930'sGargoyle Mobiloil Rusty Porcelain Gas Pump SignMobiloil 2 Gallon Petrol Can Large Letter Type Mobiloil Special Tin Top Pourer Mobil Oil Australia And Glass Oil Bottle OneLot 305 Antique 1 Quart Glass Oil Bottle With Gargoyle Mobiloil A Spout Nice Gargoyle Mobiloil "a" Motor Oil 5 Gallon Can Vacumn Rochester Square Medium BodyRoad Runner Coyote 3d Metal Sign Super Bird Plymouth Petty Dodge Mopar Chrysler1950s Magnolia Pipe Line Co.pegasus Mobil Warning Porcelain Sign No ReserveVintage Mobil Dri-lube Dry Lubricant Tin - 1930's Saucony-vacuum, Mobiloil Vintage Mobil Petroleum Oil Well Lease Porcelain Pipeline Double Sided SignOriginal Vintage Gas Oil Station Advertising Metal Sign Sohio Gulf Mobil $19.95Old 7 Oz. Mobilgrease No. 8 Socony Mobil Oil Co. Full Can Hemi Powered 3d Metal Sign Daytona Petty Hemi Charger Challenger Cuda Dodge UsaMobil Gas Station Gas & Oil Full Service Station SignGilmore Red Lion Gasoline California Map Lion Head Motor Oil & Mobil Oil Ads MapAntique Style Porcelain Look Mobil Pegasus Motor Oil Gas Pump Dealer Plate SignMobil Oil Gas Mobilgas Station Service Award Metal Pegasus Winged Horse WiltonMobiloil Rusty Porcelain Gas Pump SignMobil Flying Red Horse Paper Towel Dispenser Service Station Winshield Box Vintage 1962 Zippo Lighter; Mobil Oil Advertising, 'top Award Battery Sales' Flying Red Horse Outhouse / Toilet Sign - Mobiloil Mobilgas - Restroom Door SignOld Mobil Freezone1 Gallon CanAntique Style Porcelain Look Mobil Gargoyle Motor Oil Gas Pump Dealer Plate SignClassic Cross Mobil Pegasus Pen And Mechanical Pencil Set - Updated!Sealed Gearbox Tokheim Limited 1950 Special Mobilgas Pump Coin Bank Mib #66008Vintage Mobil "hefty" Motor Oil Metal Quart Can Full! N.o.s.1930 Dallas, Tx Texas Skyline Downtown Night Mobil Gas Pegasus Vintage PostcardFull & Unopened 1950's Mobiloil Canada Pegasus Motor Oil Tin Can Quart SignVintage 1 Gallon Mobil Oil Metal CanOld 8 Oz. Mobil Hydrotone Socony Vacuum Oil Co. Full Can Old 5 Qt. Mobiloil Can Socony Mobil Oil Co. Original Lot Of 5 Mobil Oil Heat Halstead Company Gas Service Station 8x10 PhotoEe039 Rp 1952 Pe Pacific Electric Train Wreck Los Angeles Ca Vs Mobil Gas Truck