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Navigation aidGASOLIN

Brief History

Gasolin was formed after the Second World War to take over the West German retail operations formerly supplied by Leuna, a part of the IG-Farben conglomerate that was broken up by the allies. Around 1954 Gasolin acquired Nitag (Deutsche Treibstoffe AG) to form Deutsche Gasolin-Nitag AG, but the NITAG brand name was soon discontinued. Apparently acquired by Aral soon afterwards, the Gasolin name continued in use until August 1971. NITAG had been part of the Wintershall group, and as a result Wintershall remained a minority partner in Aral until the 1990s, when BASF - its parent - sold its stake to Veba. The Gasolin name was reintroduced on a couple of filling stations in Eastern Germany in the mid-2000s, apparently to protect the trademark.

Maps

Gasolin issued maps for much of its period as an independent company. These were not generally given away and the cover price rose from 25pf in 1957 to 50pf in 1963 and 1DM in 1968. Up until the mid 1960s they were produced by K.G. Lohse of Frankfurt and located Gasolin filling stations; the later maps came from Dr te Neues.

1952 Gasolin map of Southern Germany

Section A from 1954 Gasolin Germany series

1956 Gasolin map -Germany sheet C

1957 Gasolin map

1961 Gasolin Map 5

The first map is the Southern section of West Germany from a 1952 map. Two years later, Gasolin covered West Germany in 3 sections labelled A to C (running North to South); all three sections shared a common cover design. The maps were produced by Georg Westermann at 1:600,000 and marked Gasolin locations with a T; on the reverse there was a planning map of Germany which also located Gasolin sites selling diesel by the letter D. By 1956 the covers had been redesigned to show attractive ladies in a number of poses: on section A she is in a swimsuit. Berlin was covered by a fourth section, numbered D. The cartography was now credited to KG Lohse. In 1957-8 there were 8 sections - the rear cover advertised the 30th anniversary of Motanol, and the scale had been enlarged to 1:500,000. In the early 1960s only 6 sections were used although the same scale was able to be retained partly by dropping the section linking Western Germany with Berlin. Section 5, from 1961, covers Baden-Wurttemburg & the Black Forest.

1967 Gasolin atlas

ca1963 Gasolin map 1968 Gasolin map

In the 1960s, Gasolin moved to photographic covers. Section 3 (from ca1963) shows the view from Bacharach above the Rhine; the arrangement of sheets was the same as for 1961. However by 1968 West Germany was again covered in just two sections by expanding the sheet size and using both sides of the paper for the main map.

Left Gasolin issued this specially prepared 64 page softback road atlas of Germany and Europe in 1967.

Picture and Panoramic maps

1954 Gasolin Bildkarte of Northern Germany

Gasolin's first pictorial maps were described as "Bildkarten" and carried colourful maps by Georg Westermann at 1:400,000. Gasolin stations were marked with a small T symbol, but these maps were not really practical for motoring use. The extract shown here from the 1954 map of Northern Germany covers the area just South of the Danish border on the North Sea coast. The reverse of the map carried conventional street plans of major towns.

extract from 1954 Gasolin Bildkarte of Northern Germany
1956 Gasolin Panorama map 1960s Gasolin Panorama map Gasolin later moved to series of 10 Panorama maps, covering about two-thirds of West Germany. The far left example is section 6 - Neckarland, Odenwalt & Spessart from 1956. The cover shows Heidelberg, which is in the area covered. Near left is a 1960s version of the Black Forest (Schwarzwald).
Part of 1956 Panorama map

City Plans

1950s Gasolin city map

The area close to Pforzheim from the 1956 map shows its distinctive cartography above right, which appears to be by Bruckmann of München. Despite its immediate pictorial effect, it is quite usable as a road map and even locates Gasolin filling stations. On the reverse there was an extensive description of the main tourist areas covered by the map and a gazetteer of interesting towns and villages. These maps cost just a few pfennigs more than conventional Gasolin maps.
Gasolin also issued a few small city maps with attractive covers, such as this mid-1950s example from Frankfurt (left). One side contained a street plan and the other a district map; both showed where Gasolin stations were located.

This Gasolin map of Hannover (pictured rear and front covers) may be a little earlier, as inside, on a very basic map of the city, the company marks its 23 locations with a symbol based on Leuna's pre-war design of zapfstelle. Meisterstudio of Hannover prepared the design locally, which also had ink drawings of local landmarks, including the Gasolin Haus (head office) and a list of hotels and restaurants.

early 1950s Gasolin map of Hannover

ca1961 Gasolin Tips Booklet ca1962 Gasolin Tips Booklet ca1962 Gasolin Tips map

Gasolin also issued a booklet of "Tips" each year; the content varied and did not always include any maps. However the two examples shown above, believed to date from 1961 and 1962 respectively each contained maps drawn by K.G. Lohse of Frankfurt. The left example provided plans for 45 German cities (Aaachen to Würzburg), and the centre one contained 52 single sheet sectional maps. Both faced the maps with a list of the main attractions in the town or map area, interspersed with brightly coloured cartoons and occasional full page adverts for Gasolin products. The maps covered only around 95% of West Germany, with small gaps between them if there were no points of interest. This significantly reduces the usefulness of the booklet as a road atlas. The page shown is map 1, of the coast near Sylt and Heide. The sectional maps, but not the street plans, located Gasolin stations.

Austria

Top of PageGasolin (as the successor to Leuna) and Nitag also operated in Austria. In 1955 the Allied powers signed a treaty under which all formerly German oil assets (which included the BV-Aral chain, as well as smaller firms such as Donau-Oel and WIFO) passed to the Russians in an organisation called MARTHA. However when the Russians withdrew, the Austrian state took over these operations which had been consolidated under the Aral brand name. As a result Aral was the largest petrol company in the country until the 1990s, when the Martha elements were transferred to OMV.
ca1952 Gasolin map booklet of Austria ca1952 Gasolin map of Austria 1954 Gasolin map booklet of Austria
Gasolin produced map booklets covering Austria in the early 1950s. Around 1952 it had eight pages of fairly basic maps, faced by station address lists. Oddly, though, the map of Vorarlberg/Tyrol was opposite the listings for Graz & Styria (centre). By 1954, it had a new logo and had been expanded to 11 double pages of maps by Freytag-Berndt, with the station listing was annexed at the rear.
Lists like these can be used to trace the history of European service stations. For example, of the eight outlets in Graz listed in this booklet, five had been included in the 1939 Leuna Zapfstellen-atlas of Germany. However according to a 1960 map only four were still selling Aral, which had by then replaced Gasolin in Austria. Surprisingly, 20 years later three stations remained in Aral colours. But by 1997, only one of the ex-Gasolin sites was still selling petrol; it had switched to the independent co-operative brand Genol. This station too has now closed: indeed no more than two or three of the early 1950s Gasolin locations listed in Styria are thought to be still selling petrol.
The 1954 Gasolin map indicates the primary function of most of the locations where Gasolin fuels could be bought. These are analysed on the page devoted to an overview of Austrian maps.

Top of PageThanks to Richard Horwitz and Jon Roma for help with some of the images on this page.

Please follow this link to a page of Leuna and Nitag maps.


Text and layout © Ian Byrne, 1999-2007

All original copyrights in logos and map extracts and images are acknowledged and images are included on this site for identification purposes only.