Sometime in the last few months, or may in the next few months, the oldest gas globes will be 100 years old! I started thinking about this the other day. I called Wayne Henderson, since he has viewed more gas station photos than anyone, to confirm what I thought was an approximate date of the first gas globes. I had felt that 1912 would be the date I had in mind and Wayne confirmed that date would be very close, perhaps as early as 1911 but no one knows for sure. We do have photos back to what we feel are 1912 or so but the problem is that many license plates were not dated at that time. So, even looking at a car’s license plate, if you are lucky enough to have that good a photo, will not always tell you the whole story. Maybe you could tell the year of the car in the photo, if there was one.
So that date can be narrowed down to only a year, and even that would be a guess, albeit a close one we feel. Unless we hear different I’ll stick with about 1912. Please, if you have an early photo with a gas globe that may date before this let us know!
Porcelain and tin signs no doubt predate gas globes by at least 10-20 years, and gas pumps about 27 years or so.
What prompted the thought I wonder. Somewhere, someone at that time said, “You know we ought to place a lighted glass sign atop these modern gas pumps…”
Back in the day there were many companies making gas globes, but who was the first? I would guess it would be one of the early Pennsylvania glass companies that made the first gas globe. Jeannette Glass Company, Hawes Manufacturing, Solar Electric out of Chicago, was just a few of the early makers of gas globes. Gill Glass Company, CAPCO-Cincinnati Advertising Products Company, Hull Glass, Fulton Glass, were just a few of the later companies that made gas globes.
But again, we do not know who made the first gas globes.
As far as we know, the first gas globes were of the generic type we call them. We have identified probably at least 30-40 different versions of these but in a nutshell they all said “Gasoline,” “Filtered Gasoline,” “Visible Gasoline,” “Guaranteed Measure,” “Visible Measure,” etc. We believe the examples known with the 4” bases would be older than the 6” base versions as the older pumps used the smaller bases.
But, we do believe at least one company, as best we can date from old photos, used an actual logo on their first gas globes. That globe would be a “Red Crown Polarine Gasoline” oval shaped one piece etched used by Standard Oil Company of Indiana. I expect there were actually several different companies using globes with logos on them as far back as 1912 or so. But again, these early pieces are hard to pin down as an exact date of when they were used.
I have in my collection a small one piece etched, 4” base, and chimney capped “Filtered Gasolene” globe that I believe dates to about 1912 or so. Note the spelling of the word “Gasolene.” Many companies used this spelling back then but the fact that I have seen this exact globe, chimney capped version, with the more traditional spelling of “gasoline”, leads me to believe this one is older.

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