Questions Regarding Gas Pump Globes
I'm going to address some frequent and also good questions about gas pump globes. Most of these discussions are found in our Gas Globe CDs 2012 and 2016 editions. First a quick background on gas globes.
Gas globes were used from around 1912 until the 1960s for most companies. Some companies like Clark, Dixie, Imperial and a few more used gas globes at stations until the late 1970s or beyond. One must keep in mind that many glass companies made gas globes back in the day hence the countless variations and color differences. So here we go.
One piece globes, the etched ones being the oldest, dominated from around 1912 until 1931. Fired one piece or sometimes called “baked one piece” were lastly made from 1926 until 1931.
Metal frame globes overlapped the one piece, used from the mid 1910s through the 1930s generally speaking. Though several companies used metal frames well into the 1950s like Sunoco and Amoco.
Glass gas globes were used from about 1929 until the mid 1950s, again in most cases. Some companies like Sohio never used the later Capco frames and ended their globes with glass ones. Sunoco ended their run with metal frame globes never getting into the glass or capco ones! Early glass frames were made by Cincinnati Balcrank that used the strange inserts with frames notched at 4, 8 and 12 o' clock.
We generally associate Capco frames from the 1950s but companies like Phillips and Conoco used them as far back as 1931! We have many photos to prove that. But most companies used the capco frames by the 1950s and 1960s before phasing out of gas globes for good.
There are many variations in each category above. Again all of these variations are gone over in detail in our Gas Globe 2016 CD. By the way, we keep track of the weekly globes being found that will be in a future CD. The 2016 Gas Globe CD has about 6000 different globes in it since it was released last year. Believe it or not we've added about 250 more already, just in the last year. Albeit many are from old photos, we do have several from collections and others that keep turning up.
Let's start from their beginnings and then move forward with questions and observations. Chimney capped globes are rare and we believe the metal cap over the opening was there to vent potential fumes from building up inside the globes. With an electric light bulb inside there and a spark who knows what might happen. Back in the day people were quite concerned with 10 gallons of gasoline sitting on a street curb! The term “Chimney Cap” was coined by me back in the 1970s as I didn't know what else to call them and it stuck. I have seen three different sized metal caps over the years and many companies used them, though all are rare.
One piece globes are usually either fired/baked, etched or cast. Cast globes have fired details and etched globes were just spray painted and the paint often wore off quickly. Body styles in most cases are either wide, narrow or rounded wide as I call it. There are a few flat sided ones and other versions but these categories encompass 98% of what you'll find out there. Most stand about 16.5” tall unless they have a copper or metal collar. This is the same size as a typical glass or capco frame. Smaller or shorter one piece globes are typically older than normal size ones. Figural globes such as White Eagles, Texaco Fire Hat, Standard Crowns, Shell, Cities Service clovers, domed shaped, oval globes are one piece globes you may run across. Again I am just touching the tip of the many variations out there. Etched globes are fine to repaint and values do not change at all. Fired globes cannot be repainted to enhance value. Cast globes retain about 50-75% of their original value in many cases, but it's best not to repaint. Some one piece globes have writing etched into the sides like the famous “Indian Gasoline” globes with the word “Havoline” down each side of the globe frame. One piece Anthony White Mule gas globes have “It Kicks” down each side of their globes too.
Metal frame globes in most cases are either 15” or 16.5”. There is no proof as to which are older as it was more of a company preference. These 15” or 16.5” as we call them is the size of the insert in the frame with the frame added are actually much taller, around 18” or so. Frames are usually either high profile or low profile, though strange variations exist. Cincinnati Balcrank made a wide, flat, 15” metal frame but few are ever found. Standard used a rare “double stepped” up high profile frame with an extra high ridge but these are rarely found these days. Neon wrapped frames exist too. Several 11.25” inserts on small metal frames have surfaced in recent years but these are still rare. Socony used a rare 13.75” metal, 14” metal and other companies used 18” and 20” metals. Some companies used all metal inserts like Valvoline, GFL, Socony and others that were either painted onto the surface or had the popular “perforations” or holes that were bent inward to reflect out light. Once a very rare globe, we are finding out many companies used these back in the 1910s/20s but they are still hard to find. We have seen one piece all metal globes. By the way Texaco leaded glass inserts, the only company we know that used stained glass, are actually 13 3/4”. The frames are big so they look like they hold typical 15” inserts but they do not. The very rare large Texaco leaded glass globes have 21 7/8” inserts, but we call them 22” inserts.
Some companies used thick “Cast” inserts with painted or fired details. Some used milk glass inserts like Socony with the logo fired onto the outside of the insert. A very few companies like Pure Oil used 18” inserts draped with neon inside a large special frame. These variations are but a few of the many out there and make collecting interesting. Flat glass inserts were rarely used by oil companies and I've never seen one that was fired so I believe most of these were made by local sign companies.
Glass globes are either regular glass-wide or narrow, Gill glass, Banded glass or Hull glass. Variations include the three notched Balcranks, 14” Gill or glass, five notched inserts made for either Balcrank or regular glass frames, 15” large glass frames just to name a few. Regular glass inserts are 13.5”, Hull 13.5”, Banded about 13 5/8” just slightly larger, Gills are 13.25” in 95% with no notches and the full size Gills are 13.5” with no notches like what Texaco used. See the photos here with this article to sort this out. Gill Glass Company also made the sought after ripple frames with the crinkled glass surface. By the way all ripple Gills are clear glass with painted colors that were fired inside of the globe. Phony ripple globes have a distinct “seam” that runs front to back on the top of the frame as you face the globe. Any solid glass ripple would be phony too. Years ago I saw an all glass purple ripple-not painted glass frame. This would be a phony ripple. Two piece globes exist and the two halves are held together by a short tiny bar at the top of the globe and the screw base and that's it!
Different Gill ripple colors bring various prices, green being the most sought after. By the way most green ripples are either ice cream or beer company globes as only a few oil companies used green ripples. Standard Crowns that are original all have 7” bases whether that is a flared glass base or a collar base. Any 6” base Standard Crown is phony. Shell Oil used the familiar “shell shaped” globes from the 1920s until the 1950s. Earlier Shells were either one piece round, metal frame or different shaped shell shapes. Repro Shells are dated 1994 in the base though a few undated ones exist but rarely turn up. Standard Flames or torches were used on sign post only, never on gas pumps. They are either all glass or all plastic. No repros were ever made as of this writing.
The glass globes have so many strange variations and these are all covered in our CDs. 14” glass globes were made by Solar Electric Company of Chicago who were better known for their one piece etched globes. This is why I believe 14” glass globes are quite early. Hull glass company made 13.5” and 14” red glass frames, many for Fleet-Wing but a few other companies used them too. Frames with threaded bases like copper, aluminum or steel are sought after by many collectors though it adds minimal value to the globe. Yellow Hull glass frames do exist. No other colors are known as of this writing. Tokheim 36 pumps used glass tops with the company logo fired into the sides in some cases. Shoe-Box globes are also unique and Tydol used many versions of these. We have seen Texaco Shoe-Box globes in old photos though none are known to exist. Glass oval globe inserts have notches on the sides and are different in size than the later oval capco globe inserts. They are not interchangeable in their frames. Oval capco inserts never have notches by the way. Recently we have found a few flat sided oval capco inserts that are fired. Why would they make those?
Capco-Cincinnati Advertising Products Company-globes were made from around 1931 as we can best determine through the 1970s. Original molds were found at that time so they are still being made today. Inserts for capco frames are typically notched shallower to fit into the bump on the side of the capco frame to hold them in place. Each plastic “half” has this bump on each side on original frames so a complete capco frame would have four of these. New capco frames are only notched at two sides, one side each half, unlike the four sides on original globes so one has more “play” to adjust an insert into the frame. Some inserts are all plastic and only a few companies made all plastic inserts. Capco inserts are all 13.5” though many Sunray inserts are about 13.25” with notches!
There are several plastic one piece globes as we call them though many are two halves that are held together by some fashion. Some are actual formed one piece plastic.
The above synopsis about gas pump globes is really just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many variations of gas globes you could never collect them all. People sometimes ask me what I should collect? I always tell them collect what you like and try not to pay too much for it and you will be fine. A group of gas globes on a shelf or a wall looks really cool and it doesn't matter what you collect.
We find new discoveries of gas globes every week, yes every week. We will never know the final count of different globes made. We are keeping track for now but in the meantime enjoy this fascinating hobby of collecting gas pump globes.