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    

Mobiloil Gargoyle One Quart Motor Oil Can Super Lid OldNear Mint Full 1940s Vintage Mobil Pegasus Motor Oil Old 1qt Tin Can In Orig BoxMobiloil Old Porcelain Sign ~16-1/2" X 13-1/4" Pegasus Gas Station Pump LubesterRare ~ Early 1900s Vintage Gargoyle Mobil Motor Oil Old 5 Gallon Tin Oil CanMobil Oil Collectable Pegasus Statue Award From Mobile Oil , Vintage Orignal Vintage 1940's Mobil Gas Pegasus License Plate Topper Advertising SignMobil Oil Pegasus Bronze Desk CalendarVintage Nos Mobil Mobiloil Arctic Gargoyle 9" Porcelain Metal Gasoline+ Oil SignOld Mobil Gas Pump With SignsOld Socony Mobil Porcelain Graphic SignMobil Gasoline Finest Socony Ever Offered Canvas Advertising Huge Banner SignMobilgas Tin Sign 1941 ScarceVtg Mobiloil Authorized Service Genuine Gargoyle Porcelain SignMobiloil Double Sided Large Porcelain Island Or Road Sign Sheild. Ir-56. Vintage Mobil Gasoline Porcelain Motor Oil Gas Service Station 2 Sided Sign Vintage Socony Mobil Oil Pegasus Outboard Gas Can 2.5 Gal With Original NozzleOld Vintage Porcelain Enamel Mobil Oil Sign Board From Usa 1930Vintage Mobil Mobiloil Gargoyle Gasoline Porcelain Gas Oil Pump Plate SignVintage Mobil Gas Pegasus License Plate TopperVintage Socony Vacuum Aviation Pegasus Mobil Mobilgas Porcelain Gas Pump SignMobilgas Porcelain Sign Gas And Oil Pump Plate No ReserveMobil Premium Gas Pump Plate Gasoline PorcelainVintage Mobilgas Porcelain Gasoline Service Station Pegasus Pump Plate Sign Mobil Mobilgas Special Porcelain Gas Pump Sign Pegasus Red Horse Garage StationMobil Pegasus Mobiloil Oil Can Porcelain Sign Awesome Patina!Vintage One Quart Huffman Motor Oil Bottle W/ Gargoyle Mobiloil "a" Spout Vintage Mobiloil Porcelain Gas Pump Sign Vintage Mobilgas Mobiloil Mobil Socony Vacuum Products Pegasus Porcelain Sign!!Super Rare Original 1936 Texas Centennial Mobil Oil/gas Cardboard Sign-pegasusLot Of Vintage Mobil Calendars - 1945, 1949, 1950, 1953, 1962, 1964, 1965Vintage Mobil Pegasus Gasoline Porcelain Enamel Metal Pump Plate Gas Used SignVintage Old Rare Mobil Gargoyle Mobiloil Sign Gas Oil Garage Advertising Pegasus Flying Horse Red Mobil Gas Oil Gasoline Station Neon Sign Beer Bar LightVintage Mobiloil Special Oil Can Pegasus Full 1 Qt Metal Mobilgas Special Pegasus Porcelain Gas Pump Sign Very Heavy Nice Gloss!Mobiloil Motor Oil Can - 1 Quart Full Near MintMobilgas Porcelain Sign Mobil Pegasus Gasoline Diesel Gas Vintage Pump PlateVintage Mobiloil Arctic Gargoyle Gasoline Porcelain Gas Sign Pump Plate OilPorcelain Mobil-oil Single Sided Enamel Sign Size 12" X 12" Inches Porcelain Mobil-oil A Single Sided Enamel Sign Size 12" X 12" InchesSocony Mobil Pegasus Mobiloil Oil Can Porcelain Sign Made In Usa Nice Porcelain Mobil-oil Enamel Sign Size 25" X 22" Inches1941 Mobilgas Keyhole Sign With Pegasus Mobil Oil Near Mint Unused!!Vintage Lot Metal Empty Quart Oil Cans Texaco Conoco Mobil Skelly D-x Gas! Vintage Mobiloil "ask For Gargoyle" Porcelain Gas Pump Sign Porcelain Sign Mobiloil Garage Size- 12.5 X 2.5" Inch ApproxPorcelain Sign Mobiloil Please Shut The Gate 15.5x4.5 Inches ApproxMobil Mobiloil Porcelain Gas Pump Sign I.r.40 Pegasus Red Horse Can Lube GaragePorcelain Mobiloil Enamel Sign Size 13" X 13" InchesGargoyle Mobiloil "e" Vacuum Oil Co.,advertising Tin Oil Bottle Spout,1920'sMobil Gas Porcelain Pump PlateMobil Gas Porcelain Pump PlateMobil Gargoyle Arctic Service Porcelain Gas Pump Plate Sign DatedMobil Gas Porcelain Pump PlateMobil Gas Porcelain Pump PlateMobilgas Pegasus Porcelain Advertising Sign Oil Gas Sign Gas Station Pump PlateVintage Mobil Oil 5 Gallon Metal Motor Oil CanMobil Mobiloil Aero Porcelain Gas Pump Sign I.r.40 Pegasus Can Airplane Pilot UsMobil Gas Oil Pegasus Horse Pin VintageVintage Mobil Gas And Oil Pegasus Flying Horse Cuff Links Rare To Find A Pair