Hershey Auto Swap Meet, Hershey, Pennsylvania, October 9th-11th
Hershey Auto Swap Meet, Hershey, Pennsylvania, October 9th-13th 2012
I’m getting to love this show more and more every year. The scenery is beautiful, the setting is calm and the amount of stuff you can look at in a couple days is…let’s just say, quite overwhelming.
No, there isn’t a ton of gas and oil collectibles there, but there is almost just enough to keep you coming back year after year. At a gas show every vendor has some gas and oil stuff. But here you have to look through several thousand vendors here to find a few good items. Now if that isn’t fun for someone in our hobby then I don’t know what is. But you don’t go there for just that. You go there because anyone crazy enough to collect what we do will just about enjoy everything else you might find there: car parts, motors, old bikes, really great and rare cars everywhere, airplane propellers, etc. Yes, there is something there for anyone who likes old junk. Well, I don’t mean junk but if you are reading this, then you’ll understand. I only attend a few shows each year and this is the only show I don’t have to babysit a booth. Now you know why it’s my favorite show!
My son, Jaren and I hit the pavement early on Tuesday morning on our bikes. Yes bikes, so we can cover more territory. The drawback is I’m looking for gas globes and when I find one I quickly find myself steering my bike with one hand and the globe in the other. I’m not kidding I’ve done it many, many times with no casualties yet! And it’s worth it. When I do find something I return to the car quickly, which I always park right in Hershey Park, paying the exorbitant fee of $35.00, but again, it’s worth it. Your other option is to park in a lot farther away for a little less money. We always come up with some unplanned quick strategy to find the most goodies in the shortest amount of time. Then we plan to recover the ground again so we miss as few new vendors coming in as possible. Everyone knows it’s impossible to see everything there but you do your best to prove them wrong.
We started in the red field by the stadium, which for some reason always has some globes to offer. So we went with the flows from the past and quickly headed that way. Sure enough, I quickly picked up a Sinclair Diesel gas globe and a Gill frame at a reasonable price. A few spots away we saw a very rare “? Logo” Rotary 15” globe single with a Richfield “ROCOR” on the back for around $450. It was a good deal but I passed on it because of the mismatched inserts. Another vendor had a ton of neat signs, some neon and a couple more globes. We left that field and pondered where to go next.
Chocolate it is! We decided to quickly head to the nearby chocolate field as we’ve also had good luck there in the past. Hershey is divided into different fields for the vendors and over the years it has changed many times. These days there are the red, green, orange, and chocolate fields. Since it was still early Tuesday, and let me say early for Hershey is 8-9 AM, unlike the gas shows which often start with a flash light if you get my picture, vendors were still scarce. In other words, lots of spaces were yet to be filled in but we were able to get through one section of the massive chocolate field in less than 30 minutes on our bikes. We didn’t see a whole lot in gas and oil other than a few signs, cans and couple gas globes, many of which were overpriced. Pumps were plentiful this year it seemed and several were priced fair. Off and over the bridge to the farther orange field where two years ago I scored a very rare White Rose Motor Oils one piece gas globe, one of two known, which I still have today. Over the last couple years the orange field has expanded by several rows which make Hershey more exciting each visit. We saw several gas pumps, globes and signs but nothing I couldn’t live without. Rare, fancy and restored air towers are abundant every year at Hershey I have found. They appeared to be priced fairly to me anyway. One rare sign, a Red Hat Gasoline and Oils porcelain in fairly good condition was perched looking out the windshield of a vehicle, the owner off somewhere. Priced at $7,700, it wasn’t a bad deal at all.
I love how these days everyone is an expert! Partial thanks go to the American Pickers Show which, I will argue, has done little to help our hobby but made things more difficult in several aspects, but we’ll talk about that later. Anyway, we stopped on our bikes to look at a common Sinclair Dino gasoline globe and check the price. The owner had to explain to me that since it had “paper marks” all over the insert, that this was a sure way to determine it was original. In fact, he said, only NOS original globes would have these marks and he pulled it right out of the original box it came in-it was on a new, not original Capco frame so that part was false. I told him he was partially correct and paper marks do guarantee originality but original NOS globes often don’t have paper marks and his globe, in that condition, would not have a lot of value. He looked at me like I was an idiot and my son and I merrily went about our way!
We finished up the orange field and went way over to the other side of the chocolate field which we had not seen yet, then heading on to the red field before the huge circle would start again. In that part of the chocolate field I picked up a common Conoco Capco globe for $95. The vendor had all phony globes and this was in the mess. I told him it was real after I paid him his asking price just in case he would change his mind. Restored and unrestored gas pumps were found in several of the long rows of vendors. Signs, common cans, a few common globes here and there were scattered about the millions of car parts.
We stopped at Ron Bettin’s booth filled with some great rare signs and I gave him a copy of our new Gas Globe CD for his continued help with PCM Magazine. Pergl Gas Globe was just down the way and we did the same at his booth. Time Passages had their usual long row of gas pumps set up there and many other friends and PCM readers in the hobby would pass us by now and then. But you can get lost in all the stuff at Hershey and not see anyone you know for hours. That’s also what makes it so enjoyable, sorry guys…
For some reason this year I saw several glass frames with no inserts. One was $300, one $395, and one was $400. I told my son I had to start raising my prices--I passed on all of them. But then in an area of the far red field where I never find much, one vendor had a narrow glass frame for Richfield/Sinclair globes which is better than a wide glass frame, for $125! So there you go. You just have to keep looking when you’re at Hershey.
We started in the Chocolate field again and this time I found a very rare Rosolene one piece etched globe, one of two known, sitting right there on a table. It’s not a super graphic globe but the price was fair and I bought it for resale. Most porcelain pump plates I saw were the common Texaco Fire Chief ones or Sinclair Dino priced reasonable in most cases. Look at the photos and you’ll see many signs for sale, some common, some very rare. Again, gas pumps were everywhere it seemed from common visible to rare clock face pumps. Miles Little always has a nice display of pumps for sale but most of the other unusual pumps I saw were from vendors I did not know. We did the loop again and scurried back to the green and orange fields, then back to the red field, ending again in the chocolate field.
For some reason, I don’t see a lot of quart cans at Hershey or maybe I just don’t notice them. I did see some, mostly common Quaker State types, Texaco, etc. Rocker cans seem more popular there as there are many every year. Because of the rain this time of year very few vendors offer road maps or paper items for obvious reasons. And yes, it did rain, but not much on the two days we were there.
Seeing a 1950-something car with 608 original miles on it and a rare woody station wagon (can’t remember the make) from 1941 owned by the original buyer, along with other great cars really rounds out the show.
My son, Jaren bought home a partially complete go cart (winter project) which we had to pack gas globes around…everything arrived in one piece.
Please enjoy the photos and you’ll get a rough idea of some of what Hershey has to offer. And if you see some crazed soul on a bike with a gas globe in one hand and hanging onto his handle bars with the other, well folks, that would be me. Just wave as I pass you by because I probably won’t want to stop. I’ll see you in the next aisle though.