Road maps issued by lubricating oil companies - France
Celor, Igol, Motul, Valvoline and Yacco
France has always had a strong roster of domestic lubricant brands, so it is not surprising that several have occasionally issued branded road maps, mainly as promotional tools.
Celor was a large independent French lubricant manufacturer.
This Celor map of "La France Entière" was produced by Blondel La Rougery, possibly in 1920-25. Sold for 15Fr, it is an extremely narrow format (just 6.5cm wide) opening into 16 "accordion" sections. Inside the rear cover is a unique feature: a card slide rule that allows calculation of speed based on distances and travel time, and petrol consumption based on litres and distance.
Igol was formed in 1949 when a dozen independent regional lubricant distributors banded together to provide a common branding (not unlike AVIA in liquid fuels). It appears to remain a loose confederation of independent blenders/distributors, with a quite separate arm dealing with industrial lubrication.
This little map, printed on thick paper, of the exits from Paris was probably produced for Igol just a few years after it was formed. It opens out to a rudimentary map of 256x197mm at approximately 1:55,000, highlighting the main exit routes and a few central Paris landmarks. Distances from each exit are shown to all main French cities, both on the map at the appropriate Porte, and in an alphabetical table on the reverse. No cartographer or printer is credited.
The first three examples shown here are map booklets that listed all service stations selling Igol products. On 15 February 1976 there were 4,000 sales outlets, not just at filling stations, which required a 128 page booklet to list them all, with a map of France pasted inside the rear cover. Recta-Foldex produced the next four maps on the right, at 1:1,000,000 scale. Centre top dates from around 1979 (and is a scan of the map, as the card cover has been lost from the copy scanned. Top right is from around 1981 and is pasted into a card cover, together with a 72 page booklet listing garages selling Igol oils. The three bottom row maps lack a separate cover or address list, only saying (c1988) that Igol is available from over 2,000 garages. They are standard commercial maps with the most unusual feature being an inset map showing domestic air routes. The final map is credited to Blay-Foldex.
Motul is a French independent lubricating oil company, established in the USA as far back as 1853 under the name of Swan & Finch. On the central logo visible below, the black finch can be seen in front of the white swan, both with outstretched wings. It became part of the Standard Oil Trust, but running into financial problems in the depression was acquired by its French distributors in 1932. In 1934 the Motul name was introduced and although it is still especially active in France, Motul products are sold in over 70 countries. These days it specialises in high performance synthetic lubricants.
The first Motul map above (left) dates from 1954 and appears (probably misleadingly) to show a Motul petrol station on the cover. Inside it had a four colour map by Blondel la Rougery underlining towns with Motul dealers: the names & addresses were listed on the reverse. Two years later an unusual map was produced (next two images). Again produced by Blondel la Rougery it was printed in light green with white roads: the map suggested that users could mark their route on the map with a red pencil! Motul dealers were marked with thin red circles on the map and again listed on the reverse. By 1968 (centre right) Motul was presenting a more modern image and the sheet map had become two booklets linked by a card cover. One booklet had dealers' names and addresses and the other 32 pages of maps based on a Blondel la Rougery design dating back to 1957! The 1970 design (far right) differed mainly in its choice of cover and still used the same cartography.
Valvoline was established in New York state in 1866 and took its name from the valves on steam engines that it was designed to lubricate. By the 1870s Valvoline was already on sale in France, winning a prize at the Paris Exposition in 1878. In 1950 Valvoline was acquired by Ashland, still its parent company. Although it once had a few service stations in the USA it has only sold lubricants in Europe (although a licensee in Belgium operates a few Valvoline branded petrol stations). The French arm was for many years associated with Docarlub.
An earlier Valvoline map of France is very occasionally seen, with blue and red covers. Also at a scale of 1:1,000,000 it is understood to cover France on a single sheet, possibly by Blondel la Rougery, and carries the name of Ets. Henry Hamelle SA of Paris, not Docarlub.
Yacco was established in France in 1919 and grew to become one of the largest independent lubricant brands under its slogan "L'huile du records du monde" (the oil of world records). In 1991 it was acquired by TOTAL but the brand remains in use today and is sold widely throughout the world.
Despite looking like a Michelin production, the "Carnet de Route" shown here was produced for Yacco by Kossuth of Paris in 1939. A 24 page booklet pasted into light card covers lists all Yacco stockists listed alphabetically by town (not department), as well as providing blank tables for recording lubrication and fuel consumption. A very basic two colour map of France was pasted into the rear cover indicating little more than major roads and towns with Yacco stockists. No scale, distances, or road numbers were used.
This 1998 map of France (left) was prepared for Yacco by GT-Gabelli to a scale of 1:1,600,000. Printed on one side of the paper only, it is nonetheless a good quality map, with advertising panels for Yacco's lubricants and, on the reverse, space for the garagiste to affix his stamp: common enough on older maps but rare on such a recent issue. This suggests that it was intended purely as a promotional giveaway for customers and not for use as an on-pack promotion, unlike many of the more modern lubricant company maps.
No maps are known from other French lubricant manufacturers such as BretOil, Hafa, Kervoline, Labo, Orly, Pieroyl, RollsOil or Spidoleine.
Text and layout © Ian Byrne, 2000-14
All original copyrights in logos and map extracts and images are acknowledged and images are included on this site for identification purposes only.