Glossary logoGas Station Collectibles Glossary

Compiled and edited by Guy Kudlemyer. Updated (and partially internationalised) by Ian Byrne since 2003.

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Ad Glass - A piece of plate glass attached to the uppermost part of a gas pump that features the oil company name and/or logo, usually backlighted. Similar in purpose to a gas pump globe, although integral to the pump itself.

Additive - Any chemical added to a fuel to improve its performance. Ethyl (Lead Tetraethyl) is best known, but others used include Boron, ICA and F-310. In recent years special additives and detergents have been used to give grades such as Shell's Optimax or BP's Ultimate their special qualities.

Air Globe - Globe attached to an air pump. Similar to gas pump globes, although usually smaller in diameter.

Aircraft (grade) - A super-premium grade of fuel marketed in the 1920's for use in airplanes.

All-Glass - 1) A pump globe that has a glass body, as well as glass lenses. 2) A one-piece glass gas pump globe.

Alternative Motor Fuels - Collective name for gaseous or vegetable-derived fuels such as Biodiesel, bioethanol, Palm Diesel, CNG/NGV (compressed natural gas for vehicles), Gasohol, Hydrogen and LPG, that have been introduced on a regional or experimental basis as alternatives to gasoline (petrol) and diesel.

American Petroleum Institure (API) - Organization which certifies alphabetical service ratings for each brand and grade of motor oil, which then appear within a "donut" symbol on the container's label as an identification mark for motorists to choose the correct rating and grade of oil for their vehicles. API began classifying oil ratings in 1947 and began its certification program (where bottles earn a "Certified For Gasoline Engines" starburst symbol) in 1993.

Applied Color Label - A variation of the old "painted" labels found on glass soda and beer bottles, used for plastic oil bottles. The label is printed directly onto the bottle instead of being attached to it; this type is less common than bottles with standard paper labels.

Attendant - An uniformed orderly employed at a service station whose major function is to dispense gasoline into customers' vehicles. In the era before self-service stations became widespread, the attendant's secondary duties included washing windshields, inspecting the engine oil level, and checking air pressure in tires of all customers' vehicles.

Authorised Distributor - British equivalent of a US jobber.

Autogas - Alternative name for LPG (liquid petroleum gas), but not recommended due to potential confusion with CNG.

Autojumble - British equivalent of an automotive swap meet.

Aviation - See Aircraft (grade).


Balcrank - Any glass body pump globe that uses three screws (positioned at twelve o'clock, four o'clock, and eight o'clock) to hold the lenses in place. Originally manufactured by the Balcrank Company.

Band - See Body.

Banded Glass - Glass-body pump globe featuring an internal ring to hold the lenses in place.

Banjo Sign - A type of roadside signage used by Texaco and many other US firms such as Cosden, so named because of its distinctive resemblance to the shape of a banjo, with the sign pole forming the banjo neck, and the Texaco star logo located at the top forming the banjo body. Banjo signs were an integral design feature used in the era of the of the Walter Dorwin Teague-designed Texaco gas stations.

Base - Portion of a gas pump globe that attaches to the pump. Most globe bases are one of three standard diameters: 4 inch (most are very early one-piece globes); 6 inch (more than 95% of globes have 6 inch bases); 7 inch (a small percentage of globes).

Beaulieu - The leading British autojumble, Europe's nearest equivalent to Carlisle. The main (Autumn) event is held in September, with a smaller event in May.

Bel Geddes, Norman - Prominent industrial designer who pioneered the application of streamlining concepts to gas station buildings in 1934 for the Socony-Vacuum Oil Co.

Bennett Pump Co. - Manufacturer of gasoline storage and dispensing systems.

Bensiiniasema - Finnish term for gas station.

Bensin - Swedish term for gasoline.

Bensinstasjon - Norwegian term for gas station.

Bensinstation - Swedish term for gas station.

Benzin - German term for gasoline.

Benzina - Italian term for gasoline.

Benzinestation - Dutch term for gas station.

Benzol - A clear, odorless, flammable liquid used as an early motor fuel, or as an early additive in gasolines. Benzol was also the brand name of an independent supplier of a gasoline/benzol mix based near Detroit, that installed a Benzol pump at many major branded stations until the 1950s.

Benzole - Benzol, but specifically when used a blending agent with petrol (gasoline). Benzole was a valuable by-product of the process used to make coke (used in the steel industry) from coal and so large quantities were available in major European steel producing countries. In Britain it was mainly used by National Benzole (part of the Shellmex-BP group from the 1950s), but Esso's secondary brand Cleveland also marketed a Cleveland Benzole Mixture. In Germany it was mainly sold through BV-Aral.

Biodiesel - Recently introduced alternative to conventional diesel, produced from crops. Austria and France favour RME (RapeMethylEster) from oilseed, but some suppliers simply use filtered vegetable oil, and it has recently been taken up in a big way by the German agricultural co-ops (Raffeisen and BayWa). In North America the feedstuff is more commonly soy beans. Generally used in a 5% blend with mineral oil diesel, not straight, although the Canadians use a 20% blend (B20). The English, with their long love of fish and chips, are investigating ways of refining biodiesel from used chip fat. In SE Asia the main source is palm oil, which leads to a high risk of the remaining rain forests being felled for palm plantations. See also Rapoleum.

Bioethanol - Ethanol produced from crops used as an alternative fuel. Common in the 1930s, ethanol (alcohol) blends of fuel included RKS in Germany (made from potatoes), Agrol in the USA (made from corn) and Cleveland in the UK, made as a by-product of the Scotch whisky industry. In the 1970s alcohol derived fuels gained prominence in Brazil (made from sugarcane) and the Midwest USA, again using corn. Cars can generally run without modification on a 5% or 10% blend (E5 or E10), and various other blends have been marketed up to E85 (85% ethanol). The EU is keen to encourage all biofuels through its Biofuels Directive setting minimum proportions, but some people are concerned that this could lead to large areas of monoculture crops, or to competition for land with food crops, which could ultimately make staple foodstuffs too expensive for some people in third world countries. Indeed in early 2007 food riots in Mexico and rising beer prices were both blamed on rising demand for grains/corn from the bioethanol industry. This has led to increased research into non-food sources including algae and cellulosic ethanol (from wood or grassy plants). Ethanol is also highly water soluble, and can leach out of underground storage tanks at service stations.

Blind Pump - An early type of gas pump, so named because the gasoline was pumped by hand into a vehicle without being seen. Because the customer was unable to verify the nature or quantity of the liquid being pumped, incorrect fuels or fuel quantities could be mistakenly dispensed. These occurrences led to the invention of the Visible Register pump.

Blotter - Blotting paper for use with fountain pens backed with oil company advertising, and given away to customers between the 1920s and 1950s. Some featured well known artists; the most sought after are from Amoco, Atlantic or Sunoco, which issued a series featuring Walt Disney characters. Over 100 different designs are known from Gulf. Although mainly collected in the USA, a few European examples can also be found.

Blunt-Nose Eagle - White glass globe shaped like an eagle; refers to the eagle's rounded beak.

Body - A gas pump globe band, made of metal, glass, or plastic. Glass lenses are attached to create a complete globe. Standard diameter sizes are 13.5 inch (typically made of plastic or glass), 15 inch (typically made of metal), and 16.5 inch (typically made of metal).

Boron - An additive developed by the Standard Oil Company (Ohio) that was used by a number of brands of gasoline at various times. Richfield used it in Western US markets and DX in middle America, but in Australia Ampol was the sole licensee and in Europe it was used by Caltex (and then briefly Chevron). Boron was also the secondary brand name used by Sohio in states neighbouring its Ohio base.

Boulevard signs - Those mounted on top of a projecting canopy or extending from forward edge of building to a support post forward of the building. These were most commonly found on the West Coast of USA.

Bowser, S. F. & Co., Inc. - Manufacturer of gasoline storage and dispensing systems, headquartered in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

Branded - Any petro-related item that has an oil company logo or emblem ("brand") attached to it or imprinted upon it.

Bulk Plant - Gasoline storage facility usually operated by an oil company or jobber, typically featuring several storage tanks where large quantities of fuel are stockpiled.


C-Store - Convenience Store, usually with attached gasoline station. The first C-stores are generally credited with being operated by Southland Corporation under the "Totem" brand in 1927; Southland had a number of tie-in locations with Transcontinental Oil (Marathon) in Dallas in the early 1930s. They became Seven Eleven in 1946 and became widespread in the 1950s, before selling out at one point to Citgo. Other c-store operators date from the 1950s, including Circle K (1952, El Paso and Phoenix) and QuickTrip (Tulsa, 1957). Today the C-store concept, either owned by retail chains or gasoline companies, dominates US fuel retailing. In Europe, the penetration of C-stores varies widely, with most directly controlled by oil companies rather than retail chains.
Some petroliana collectors regard C-stores as being outside their remit, especially as almost none had globes or porcelain signage. But there are some collectibles of interest, including a small number of road maps and oddities such as C-store branded beer cans or Caseyopoly - a version of Monopoly produced for Casey's General Stores' 40th anniversary.

Cancode - The number, assigned by the Item Identification Code System, to distinguish each individual oil container made in the U.S. by state, city, company, and content.

Canopy with Booth - Ninth in a series of ten architecturally-recognized standard gas station types; first appeared in about the mid-1970's. Typically featured a large overhead canopy sheltering self-service pumps; a lone attendant remained in a small booth (usually behind bullet-proof glass) and collected cash from customers. Vending machines and restrooms were delegated to small shed-like buildings usually located near the perimeter of the lot, a safe distance away from the main fueling activities.

CAPCO - Cincinnati Advertising Products Co.; headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. Manufacturers of gas pump globes.

CAPCOLITE - Plastic globe body for 13.5 inch lenses manufactured by CAPCO.

Carburant - French term for gasoline. The compound supercarburant is also commonly used.

Carlisle - Carlisle Collectors' Flea Market; an annual petroleum-related swap meet and auction, held each year at the Carlisle, Pennsylvania fairgrounds. Usually convenes in April and September.

Carta - Italian term for map.

Carte - French term for map.

Cartophile - Informal term used to describe one who is an enthusiast/collector of oil company or other roadmaps.

Cast Face - A glass lens (typically 15 inch diameter to fit a metal-body globe) that features the oil company logo or name "cast" into the face. Casting can be either concave or convex.

Cetane - A colorless liquid petrochemical derivative used as a solvent.

Cetane number - The performance rating of diesel fuel, similar to octane ratings for gasoline. Typical European fuel has a cetane figure of 51 or 52, but can occasionally be as high as 58 with special additives.

Chassis Grease - Pumpable grease for grease fittings. Used prior to the NLGI classification of grease categories.

Check The Oil! Magazine - A hobby magazine "dedicated exclusively to Petroliana." Headquartered in Wisnton-Salem, NC.

Chariot - An early type of mobile petrol pump, typically consisting of a metal frame on four wheels. A hand pump, sometimes with visible display, would be mounted at the front, and balancing it at the rear would be a steel barrel of the fuel to be dispensed. This arrangement allowed the pump to be moved out from a shop or garage to the kerbside when a customer wanted service.

Chimney Top - One-piece etched globe that features an opening at the top (similar to the base, but usually smaller) covered by a metal cap.

Clam - See Shell.

Clear-Vue Strip - The translucent line on the side of most plastic oil bottles which illustrates how much product remains in the container.

Clover Body - Clover-shaped gas pump globe body used by Cities Service Co. to hold their clover-shaped lenses.

CNG - Compressed Natural Gas (methane, CH4), sold on a small scale as a motor fuel. Although cleaner in terms of emissions than LPG, CNG is generally only used by fleets. There are public CNG stations in Italy (Metano), Germany, Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands as well as in New Zealand. Also known in the UK as NGV (Natural Gas for Vehicles).

Columbus - Annual petroleum-related swap meet and auction, held each year at Columbus, Ohio under IPCA sanctioning as its national convention. Usually convenes in June.

topComposite Can (CP) - An oil can composed of a foil and cardboard hybrid wrapped in multiple spiral layers, with metal lids at both ends. First marketed during WWII, possibly by Standard Development Company. MacMillan Oil Co. was the first to advertise composite cans nationally, for its Ring-Free motor oil brand in late 1942. Composite can usage increased in the mid-1960s and became the industry standard by decade's end.

Computer Pump - A type of gas pump that counts and stores fuel gallonage dispensing information by means of an internal mechanism consisting of gears and associated hardware. This information is displayed on the pump face by a series of rotating wheels imprinted with numbers representing the amount of fuel pumped, price paid per gallon, and total cost.

Conroe - Conroe Swap Meet. An annual petroleum-related swap meet and auction, held each year at Conroe, Texas. Usually convenes in October.

Convenience Store (C-Store) - A modest, single-story rectangular structure fabricated of metal or masonry where beverages, snacks, and usually gasoline can be purchased, the front facade of which is "opened up" through extensive use of plate glass.

Convenience Store with Canopy - Tenth in a series of ten architecturally-recognized standard gas station types. A convenience store in front of which stands gas pumps typically sheltered by a large, free standing, flat-roofed canopy covering two or more islands. Cash and pumping transactions are completed inside the store, necessitating at least one, and sometimes more, trips inside and back.

Co-Op - Fuel marketing firm owned by an association (usually farmers) to supply their own requirements. Most co-ops sell to the general public as well, but profits are distributed to the members of the association on a cooperative basis. Although many older co-ops used a simple or obvious co-op name, in recent years they have moved to more positive brands, such as Agway, Ampride, Cenex, Energy Plus 24, FS (formerly Illinois Farm Service), Sonic or Tempo. (The last two come from Canada; in Austria Genol and Switzerland Agrola carry the co-op flag.) In some countries (Germany and Austria) co-ops are been at the forefront of promoting biodiesel.
Retail co-ops have also been involved in gasoline marketing in Europe, often under the OK brand. Consumer co-ops of motorists have prospered mainly in Sweden (IC/OK). Finally, small oil distributors have also come together in co-ops sharing a common brand identity, such as AVIA (across much of Europe) or BFT in Germany.

Correct Measure Co. - Early manufacturer of gas pumps; headquartered in Rochester, Pennsylvania.

Cottage Station - A gas station designed to blend with suburban environments, usually by adopting "tasteful" home-borne conventions such as brick walls, shuttered windows, half-timbered walls, shingled roofs, wood siding, chimneys, or flower boxes. These softer, more "domestic" designs, built in the late 1920's and early '30's especially for Phillips 66 and Pure, were in direct response to public opposition of the harder edged, more elaborate, machine-age-based style stations that were beginning to proliferate.

Crown - Crown-shaped gas pump globe used exclusively by Standard Oil of Indiana. Shell-shaped globes carrying the word CROWN were used in Ireland as a secondary grade of fuel.

CSSMA - The Canadian Service Station Memorabilia Association. Ontario based club for those interested in Canadian sevice stations and their artefacts; publishes a quarterly newsletter Garage Door News. See also Free Air.

Curb Sign - Small free standing advertising sign, usually under 3 ft (1m) tall on a concrete of cast iron base. Sometimes the sign is bent and fixed vertically between bearings to allow it to rotate in the wind; sometimes it is suspended from a frame. Typically used to advertise lubricants, ethyl blends or, in the UK, "Agency" (a means of commercial payment for fuel), rather than gasoline.

Curbside - First in a series of ten architecturally-recognized standard gas station types that describes the "original" filling station: curbside pumps (with underground storage tanks) placed along streets in front of grocery stores, hardware stores, and other stores that included gasoline in their inventory. This type of station began to die out in North America after the 1920's due to fire dangers and corresponding fire regulations and ordinances, as well as traffic concerns. It continued to thrive in parts of Europe, and some stations survive in major Italian cities.

Cup Grease - Grease used on wheel bearings because of its thickness and higher dropping point or melting point. "Cup" may refer to the dust cover on the front spindle of the wheel hub; when the cup is removed, the spindle nut could also be removed and the front bearings exposed. The "cup" is designed to hold additional grease and could be used to pack the bearing if required. Used prior to the NLGI classification of grease categories; similar and sometimes interchangable with Wheel Bearing Grease. Often labeled as No.1, 2, or 3 for measures of thickness of the particular grease.

Cut - Refers to a gas pump engineer's or designer's blueprint number for a particular pump design; i.e. cut number 1 signfies the first design.

Cut-Throat Eagle - White glass, eagle-shaped pump globe featuring a slit under its throat; similar in appearance to the Blunt-Nose Eagle.


Dayton Pump Co. - Early manufacturer of gas pumps; headquartered in Dayton, Ohio.

DERV - British acronym from Diesel Engined Road Vehicle, later used instead of diesel for the fuel itself.

Dexron - General Motors vehicle designation for automatic transmission fluid, introduced in 1967 and upgraded to Dexron-II in 1975; Dexron-III became the industry standard in the early 1990's.

Diesel - Heavier, less-refined fuel used primarily for large trucks and other heavy equipment. Diesel burns more slowly than gasoline, providing a more prolonged explosion in an engine's combustion chambers.

Discol - Trade name of Distillers Co Ltd for alcohol added to certain Cleveland blends - see Gasohol.

Discounter - Limited-service independent or small chain marketer selling fuels and related products at reduced prices.

Diversified Map Co. - Major producer of oil company and other roadmaps; headquartered in St. Louis. Out of business since the early 1970's.

Divided Station - US term for a gas station selling more than one brand of fuel. Also known as a "split station" and usually called a free station in Europe and Australia. After World War II, divided stations were most commonly found in California, a practice upheld by a 1948 Court decision, preventing . The major brands differed in their attitude so that, for example, Sunoco retained a significant number of divided stations until the 1950s, often allowing a small Detroit-based brand called Benzol to supply a single pump with its premium product, but most other majors eliminated divided stations on the East Coast before 1939.

Dixie Gas - Annual petroleum-related swap meet and auction, held each year at Sevierville, Tennessee. Usually convenes in September.

Domestic Station - See Cottage Station.

Double Discharge - -Single gas pump that dispenses two different grades of fuel.


Elephant Bottle - One-quart and one-half gallon plastic oil bottles experimentally marketed by Citgo in the early 1980's that featured flexible spout nozzles not unlike the trunk of an elephant. The concept was reinforced by an elephant insignia embossed on every container.

Emails - French term for porcelain signs. Hard to use successfully in most search engines!

Enamelled Signs - British term for porcelain signs.

Estacion de Servicio - Spanish term for service station.

Essence - French term for gasoline.

Etched Letters - Gas pump globe or lens featuring an oil company's name etched into the glass.

Ethyl - A premium-grade gasoline named after its octane-boosting additive, tetraethyl lead (produced by the Ethyl Corp., a consortium formed by General Motors and Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey). Lead has been progressively banned from gasoline, starting in the USA in the 1970s, because of the health risks of long-term exposure to low levels of lead.


F-310 - Proprietary additive (based on Polybutene Amine) used by Chevron from 1971 onwards. In the 1980s this was replaced by Techrolene and in the 1990s Techron - useful indicators for identifying the date of Chevron petroliana with the current sign.

Fighting Brand - Term used to describe a secondary or discount brand used by a major oil company at sites that were unable to operate profitably under the main company name.

Filling Station - A refueling terminal for automobiles that dispenses fuels, but lacks other standardized services, such as chassis lubes, engine repair, and automobile replacement parts. In the early 1900's, a Filling Station might consist of only a single blind pump on wheels that was owned by a General Store proprietor and was rolled out to a street curb location during the day, and placed behind a set of locked doors overnight. However this term continues in use in the UK for almost any retail outlet selling gasoline, large or small.

Flame - One-piece, flame-shaped plastic or glass adornment attached to Standard Oil company signs.

Five Gallon Can - Largest collectable lubricating oil can size, sold in the UK to motorists to keep a supply of oil in their garage. Some, such as the 1920s Gamages design, are highly collectable, but the plainer designs often sell cheaply as they are too large to display well.

Flange Sign - Enamelled (porcelain) sign designed to be affixed perpendicularly to a wall; commonly used to advertise petrol and oil up to the 1930s, when greater travelling speeds began to require more prominent pole signs outside a service station.

Free Air - Newsletter of the Western Vintage Oil and Gas Collectors Club, an Alberta based club for those interested in Canadian sevice stations and their artefacts. See also CSSMA.

Free Station - A Filling Station that does not have a supply contract with a single gasoline supplier (known as a divided station in the US). In the UK up to about 1969 they were commonly found selling up to four or five brands, from a row of pumps identified mainly by the tops (globes) which consequently were often of different shapes, in order to aid rapid identification.
In Germany, they were historically identified by the Freie T, or a simple T in a circle, sign outside. Latterly, Freie T became to be used only at stations supplied by members of the Bundesverband Freien Tankstellen (=State Association of Free Filling Stations), and most had normal supply contracts from small suppliers. To reflect this, the Freie T identity was replaced by the BFT brand around 1990. Genuinely free stations still exist with no tie to a regular supplier, but are these are now known in the industry as white stations, even when they carry their own one-off brand.

Friction Sealed Can - Grease cans with lids which are pried open and pushed shut, similar to paint cans.

Fridge - A restored petrol pump that has had its innards removed and replaced by (you guessed it!) a fridge. This strange surgery is widely performed in Australia, where collectors are always looking for somewhere new to store cold beer.

Frost, Frederick G. - Prominent gas station architect best known for his Mobilgas station design featuring a dramatically curved facade reminiscent of an oil drum (based on a Norman Bel Geddes idea), conceived in the early 1940s.

Fry Pump - Early gas pump manufactured by Guarantee Liquid Measure Co., headquartered in Rochester, Pennsylvania.

Fuel Oil - A lesser-refined oil used in space-heating equipment.


G-Store - Gasoline company controlled Convenience Store, as distinct from a C-store where the store branding was separate from the gasoline. As G-stores have expanded in size and range of goods on offer, the distinction has become lost, and these days almost all stores, including proprietary brands such as ExxonMobil's On the Run and Shell's Select or ETD are regarded as being C-stores, although Esso's Snack & Shop or the basic Shell Shop format might still be thought of as G-stores.

Garage Door News - Newsletter of the CSSMA.

Gargoyle - A grotesque mythical animal figure used as a trademark by the Vacuum Corporation until about the mid-1930s.

Gasauto - Italian term for LPG.

Gas Bash - A formal assemblage of Petroliana enthusiasts. These gatherings, usually lasting two or more days, are distinguished by activities including, but not limited to: buying, selling, and trading, of gas station memorabilia, gas pumps, signage, oil cans, roadmaps, and related items as well as consuming vast quantities of beer or Dr Pepper.

Gas Station - Generic term used to refer to any business whose primary function is the dispensation of gasoline for vehicles.

Gasohol - Relatively recent term for Gasoline/Alcohol (Ethanol) mixtures. Widely used in Brazil which lacks oil resources but has huge sugar cane plantations, corn alcohol has also been used in the US Midwest by companies such as Amoco. Most commonly it is sold as an E10 blend (10% ethanol) which can be used in almost all cars without modification, but it is also used as E85 (85% ethanol). In Britain it was sold until the 1960s through Esso's Cleveland secondary brand, in 2 grades: Cleveland Discol and Cleveland Super Discol (for which globes can be found). See also bioethanol.

Gasoil - French term for diesel. In an attempt to pursue linguistic purity, this was turned into the frenchified Gazole in the 1980s.

Gasolina - Spanish term for gasoline.

Gasolinera - Spanish term for gasoline filling station.

Gazole - French term for diesel.

Generic Globes - Gas pump globes used before the practice of placing oil company names or logos on globes became popular. Most generic globes simply said, "Gasoline", or "Filtered Gasoline."

Gilbarco - Gilbert & Barker Co.--Manufacturer of gasoline pumps and dispensing systems; headquartered in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

Gill Body - A hollow, glass gas pump globe body similar to the Hull body, but using a narrow metal band to attach lenses to the body. Originally manufactured by the Gill Glass Company.

Gill Glass Co. - Early manufacturer of gas pump globes; headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Gill Lenses - Pump globe lenses that fit only a Gill body.

Glass - A glass-body gas pump globe with glass inserts.

Glass-Body - Gas pump globe made of glass, into which glass lenses are inserted. Manufactured from the late 1920's to the early 1960's, but most common from the mid-1930's to the late 1940's.

Gousha, H. M. Co. - Major producer of oil company and other roadmaps; headquartered in San Jose, California. After being owned by Times Mirror, it fell into bankruptcy in the late 1990s and its assets were acquired by Rand McNally.

GPL - French term for LPG.


Handy Oiler - A small tube or can of refined oil intended to be used for small lubricating purposes around the household; usually sold or given away as a promotional item by oil companies.

Happy - Name of the Esso oil-drop character, widely used in the late 1950s and 60s. Also understates the reaction of the average map collector on finding a Mona-Motor map in mint condition for a dollar or two.

Hershey - Annual petroleum-related swap meet and auction, held each year at Hershey, Pennsylvania. Usually convenes in October.

High Profile - Metal globe body that holds 15 inch or 16.5 inch lenses. The metal above the lens is raised and has a "high profile" when viewed from the front.

High Rise signs - Signs mounted over 24' high and intended to be viewed from nearby limited access highways. These were an invention of the Interstate Highway era and some have been made that are over 100' high. Widely used in America and Asia, but rarely found in Europe, owing to stricter planning constraints.

High Test - See Premium (grade).

Holder - See Body.

Hoosier - Hoosier Petro Peddlars' Swap Meet. Annual petroleum-related swap meet and auction, held each year at Evansville, Indiana. Usually convenes in May.

House - Third in a series of ten architecturally-recognized standard gas station types; usually built after 1920, typically featuring house-styled buildings on large lots facing wide thoroughfares. Zoning restrictions and public opposition forced oil companies to build structures that were capable of blending into residential areas. Most often, these new stations were made to appear to be residences, as in the case of the Pure or Phillips 66 cottage stations. See Cottage Station.

House with Bays - Fifth in a series of ten architecturally-recognized standard gas station types, becoming popular after about 1925, when many gas stations were beginning to be equipped with lube racks and car washing facilities.

House with Canopy - Fourth in a series of ten architecturally-recognized standard gas station types; developed concurrently with the "House with Bays" designs. In instances where a new filling station was being constructed, additional automotive services such as lube racks and car washing facilities were often included under the roofline of the new structure. At older locations, additional structures were needed to accommodate these new services. Thus, outlying canopied bays were retrofitted, separated from the main building (the "house") .

Huile - French term for oil.

Hull Body - Glass gas pump globe body made by the Hull Glass Company.

Hull Glass Company - Early manufacturer of gas pump globes.

Hydrogen - Seen by many as the ultimate alternative motor fuel. H2 can be used in several ways:

  • as a compressed gas to fuel an internal combustion engine; this is liked by some car manufacturers (BMW) and Shell opened the world's first hydrogen refuelling station in Reykjavik, Iceland in 2003;
  • as a blend of 20% hydrogen and 80% methane (hytane), which has better combustion properties and has been tested on a bus fleet in Dunkerque, France; or
  • as the energy carrier for a fuel cell, a means of propulsion being tested by several manufacturers including Ford and DaimlerChrysler.
    All versions require a clean source of hydrogen to be used, such as electrolysis of water by renewable electricity (Iceland). Realistically, hydrogen will not be a widespread motor fuel before 2050, if then.

    Hypermarket - European term (after the French hypermarché) for a large retail food store, typically of 5,000m2 or more, and almost invariably with an attached low-cost gas station. Hypermarkets have indirectly led to the closure of many thousands of smaller service stations, especially in France and the UK. The first example was opened by Carrefour in 1963 at Sainte Geneviève-des-Bois.


    ICA - Ignition Combustion Additive, widely promoted by Shell in the 1960s.

    Ice Box station - Gas station design introduced in the 1930's by the Gulf Oil Co., so named for its Streamline Moderne styling made up of white porcelain-enameled panels that were reminiscent of current designs in domestic ice boxes.

    Independent - Single gas station or small chain of stations that is a regional retail marketer, but has no production or refining capabilities.

    Inserts - See Lenses.

    International Petroliana Collectors' Association (IPCA) - Originally an organization of petro-hobbyists whose primary focus is the collection of branded oil company ephemera, and the study of oil company histories, headquartered in Powell, Ohio, but now subsumed into Check The Oil!

    Iowa Gas - Annual petroleum-related swap meet and auction, held each year at Des Moines, Iowa. Usually convenes in August.

    Isooctane - A highly flammable petrochemical derivative used to determine the octane numbers of motor fuels.


    Jewel Body - Metal gas pump globe body with 24 colored-glass "jewels" embedded.

    Jobber - Petroleum wholesaler selling to retail marketers within a limited geographic area. Usually sells one or more major company brands, sometimes with their own jobber brand. In the UK the nearest equivalent is an Authorised Distributor (AD).

    Jobber Association - A group of petroleum wholesalers operating under a common cooperative brand.

    Jobber Brand - A jobber-operated retail brand used in a limited geographic area.


    Kaart - Dutch term for map. Note that if is is an autokaart it is of Netherlands origin, whereas if it is a wegenkaart it is more likely to be from Belgium.

    Kart - Norwegian term for map.

    Kartta - Finnish term for map, often in compounds such as autokartta or yleiskartta.

    Karte - German term for map, often in compounds such as Landkarte or Straßenkarte.

    Karta - Swedish term for map, often in compounds such as bilkarta or snabbkarta or vägkarta.

    Kerb Sign - Small free standing advertising sign. UK spelling for Curb sign.

    Kerosene - A lesser-refined grade of fuel used primarily for heating or lighting. Kerosine is usually used for aviation (jet) fuel, although in England it is also known as paraffin when used for domestic heating oil. English globes for paraffin are not uncommon; Pink Paraffin (a Shell/BP joint venture), Esso Blue and Gainsborough Gold are among the colourful variants found.

    Kort - Danish term for map, often in compound terms such as vejkort.


    Leaded Glass - A multi-pieced Texaco gas pump globe lens comprised of stained glass. These are extremely rare.

    Lenses - A glass gas pump globe insert that fits into a globe body; usually decorated with the word "Gasoline," or an oil company logo or name.

    Lithium Grease - Refers to the lithium hydroxide used in producing quality automotive grease; it is a thickener combined with fat, fatty acid, oil and chemical additives.

    Logotype - Lettering characteristic to a particular oil company, used without the accompanying logo design.

    Loewy, Raymond - Industrial designer primarily known for bringing the concept of streamlining to common objects (ranging from pencil sharpeners to buses and gas stations) in the 1930's. Also well-known for redesigning the Shell Oil Co. corporate image in the 1960's and for fathering the Exxon corporate identity in the 1970's.

    Lollipop Shaped - Describes the shape of the typical round globe, as distinguished from an the shape of an atypical globe (such as a Blunt-Nose Eagle.)

    Lollipop Sign - Curbside sign, usually porcelain enamel, measuring 24 to 30 inches in diameter, used by oil (and other) companies in the 1930's. Usually supported by a heavy metal base and signpost, standing approximately 2 1/2 feet tall.

    Low Profile - Metal gas pump globe body for 15 inch or 16.5 inch lenses. When viewed from the front, the body has a "low profile," allowing the lenses to be the more dominant visual feature.

    LPG - Liquified Petroleum Gas used as a motor fuel, sometimes known as "Autogas". Cleaner in terms of emissions than petrol (gasoline) or diesel, cars running on it suffer from slightly lower performance than typical petrol cars, as it has a nominal octane rating of 89. In mainland Europe LPG is generally a 50:50 mix of propane and butane, to comply with EN 789, but in the UK it is generally over 90% propane (with small amounts of propylene and butane) to meet BS 4250. North American LPG is largely propane as it is remains gaseous in very cold weather.
    First tested as a road fuel as long ago as 1912, public LPG stations, or pumps attached to ordinary filling stations, have existed for over 40 years in Benelux and Italy, and the fuel has recently been encouraged by state support in Britain and France. Although there are over 30,000 public LPG sites worldwide, many carry unfamiliar names such as Primagaz. Some of the oil majors (eg. Shell and Total) maintain their own LPG subsidiary brands, whereas others either sell third party gas or offer it as own brand. There are relatively few collectibles for LPG, although several companies have issued road maps. LPG should not be confused with compressed natural gas (CNG).

    Lubritorium - A late-1910's addition to the still-developing gas station prototype, featuring lube racks and pits, usually enclosed in a separate building situated away from the main station office and pumps, and used for minor automotive servicing, such as chassis lubes and oil changes.


    Mack - Swedish term for petrol pump, station or collectibles. Like DERV, it started as an abbreviation - Matthiasson, Andersson, Collin och Key - who formed a company in 1915 to build the newly arrived petrol pumps. Mackmeter pumps dominated the Swedish market in the 1920s, to the extent that Mack became synonymous with the pump and, by extension, the garage. In the 1970s, the name was used at a chain discount of unmanned discount stations, later acquired by BP. (A rival chose Maxi, which sounded similar, but they were bought out by Jet.) Combined with the worldwide reputation of Scots for parsimony, other firms dropped the K to be used in "Mac" on their own discount automat stations, most noticeably MacFina, which underlined the connection through a tartan livery. The leading co-op chain got the Gaelic right, but changed to an Irish image for its discount stations under the short-lived "O'Key" brand - a triple pun owing to the Swedish pronunciation of OK being "O'Key", and the concept of a key operated station.

    Major - A fully-integrated oil company that operates its own exploration, drilling, production, refining, transportation, and retail ventures over a large regional or national area.

    Map Hunt - The systematic visitation of several antique malls, flea markets, swap meets and/or antique shops within a given geographical area to purchase road maps for one's map collection or to trade to other collectors.

    Martin & Schwartz - Manufacturer of gasoline storage and dispensing systems founded in 1937 and jointly owned by Standard of Indiana, Socony, Conoco and Sun Oil until 1949.

    Mass Gas - Annual petroleum-related swap meet and auction, held each year at Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. Usually convenes in September.

    Mason-Dixon Gas - Annual petroleum-related swap meet and auction, held each year at Frederick, Matyland. Usually convenes in March.

    Mazout - Belgian French term for fuel oil.

    McSavaney Corp. - Early manufacturer of metal gas pump globe frames, headquartered in Springfield, Ohio.

    Mercon - Ford vehicle designation for automatic transmission fluid, introduced around 1993 and replacing Dexron-II as the industry standard for Ford vehicles produced after 1980.

    Metal - Metal rim holder for gas pump globe lenses (with or without lenses).

    Metal Body - Gas pump globe body made of metal, into which glass lenses are inserted. Manufactured from the mid-1910's through the mid-1930's, although some were manufactured as late as 1960.

    Metal Ring - Used to hold lenses in place on some gas pump globe bodies.

    Mint In Box (MIB) - Many petro-collectibles (such as toys) are significantly more valuable to collectors if they are offered for sale in their original box or other original packaging.

    Milk Glass -Gas pump globes made of milk-colored glass. Most early one-piece generic pump globes are made of milk glass.

    Milk Glass Inserts - Lenses made of milk glass (as opposed to clear glass) that usually fit 15 inch metal bodies. Often the words "Gasoline" or "Filtered Gasoline" are etched into the glass.

    Mint - A subjective term used to describe the condition of a piece of petroliana, usually suggesting significantly-better-than-average. Synonyms include "fine", "excellent", and "high-grade." The reverse is not always true; excellent is rarely as good as mint, and "high-grade gasoline" most definitely isn't mint!

    Mobilia Magazine - A hobby magazine focusing on Petroliana-related collectibles such as gas pumps, signage, petro-toys, roadmaps, automobiles, and aircraft. Headquartered in Middlebury, Vermont.

    Multi Product Dispenser (MPD) - Current terminology used to denote "gas pump,"so named because of its ability to dispense several grades of gasoline from the same location on the pump island.

    Motor (grade) - A 1930's economy grade of gasoline, usually with low tetraethyl lead content and correspondingly low octane rating.

    Motor Spirit - Pre-WWII British term for gasoline, when Carless Capel & Leonard still owned the rights to the word "petrol".


    Narrow Body - Glass gas pump globe body that is typically 5 inches wide.

    National Pumps Corp. - Early manufacturer of gasoline storage and dispensing systems Headquartered in Dayton and Cincinnati, Ohio.

    NFR - Globes are commonly found in the UK saying "NFR", standing for "Not for Retail" - they may be either generic in design or shaped like a leading brand. Until the 1960s, many garages had petrol pumps for their own use, but by marking them NFR they did not have to undergo regular and costly inspections by the local Weights and Measures inspectors.

    National Lubricating Grease Industry (NLGI) - Organization which maintains industry standards for and classifies numerical categories of automotive greases.

    New Old Stock (NOS) - Usually gas station-related supplies (such as roadmaps, oil cans, TBA's) that were delivered new to a retail outlet, but never sold to the end user. May have been in storage for a prolonged period of time, but can be in excellent to like-new condition, thereby commanding a high price at gas bashes and auctions.

    Notched Inserts - Gas pump globe lenses (typically 13.5 inch) that have notches at the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock positions to aid in the correct placement in the globe body.

    Noyes, Eliot - Designer/architect of Mobil Corp's. 1964 gas station re-imaging program. His design stressed the repetition of Mobil's longtime oil drum symbol, as well as the eventual retirement of the famed Pegasus in favor of the current blue "Mobil" logotype with the prominent red "O."


    Oblong Box - Sixth in a series of ten architecturally-recognized standard gas station designs; developed in the 1930's, featuring flat roofs and offices integrated with service bays. Large plate glass was adopted in lieu of exterior residential ornamentation (bay windows, planters, etc.). Residential color schemes were replaced by corporate colors applied to building walls and signage. Streamlined, "modern" architecture replaced earlier references to the domestic-styled station. Also something used to store, maps, cans, globes, or anything else that other family members don't want to see on display.

    Octane - 1. A colorless inflammable hydrocarbon found in petroleum and used as a solvent.
    2. Canada's leading trade magazine for the service station industry.
    3. London-based independent petrol brand acquired by VIP in 1965.
    4. Popular abbreviation for Octane Number (or RON) as in "99 Octane".

    Octane Number - A numerical measurement of the anti-knock properties of a motor fuel, based on a percentage by volume of isooctane of a standard reference fuel. Octane numbers in the US and Europe are not directly comparable. In North America, regular grade unleaded fuel is quoted as 87 octane (occasionally lower in mountain states) with premium at 91 or 92 octane and a mid-grade in between. In Europe the regular grade is quoted as being 95 octane and confusingly called "Eurosuper" in some countries, as it replaced Super grade when cars were converted to run on unleaded fuel. Premium grades (such as Super Unleaded in Britain, which was generally phased out by 2003) are often rated at 98 octane, and some European countries also carry an intermediate grade. However there has been a move away from straight octane ratings to using detergents or other additives that improve performance without significantly uplifting the octane number. Fuels such as BP Ultimate (typically 97 octane) and Shell Optimax fall into this category.

    In the 1960s, there were "Octane Wars" in some countries, with fuel being sold at ludicrously high octane ratings, culminating in Esso Golden in the UK at RON 104. Star Ratings led to the demise of these fuels, as (for example) both Esso Extra and Esso Golden qualified for the maximum five-star appellation under BS4040. See also under Star Rating.

    Oil Globes - Globes used on oil cabinets or dispensers. Similar to gasoline pump globes, although usually smaller in diameter.

    One-Piece - Gas pump globes with no lenses; entire globe is one piece of glass. Used primarily between 1912 and 1931, and usually made of milk glass.

    One-Piece Plastic - Gas pump globe made of a single piece of formed plastic, or assembled from two or more pieces of plastic.

    Orange Disc - Slang term for Gulf Oil Corporation, based on its sign. Also the name of its in-house magazine.


    Palm Diesel - Alternative fuel blended from 10% purified palm oil and 90% conventional diesel, promoted in Thailand as a way of reducing dependence on imported mineral oil products. Apart from advertising, too new to have collectibles. See also Alternative Fuels.

    Paraffin - (US) A semi-solid, waxy, colorless hydrocarbon used to make candles, wax paper and lubricants. (UK) Kerosene

    Paraffin Base - Oil refined primarily from paraffin, augmented by the addition of friction-reducing additives.

    Pate - 1) Annual petroleum-related swap meet and auction, held each year at Cresson, Texas. Usually convenes in April. 2) Oil company, founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1933. Acquired by Standard of New Jersey in 1956. The family which founded the company operates the swap meet.

    Pegasus - Red "Flying Horse" logo created by Standard of New York in 1934 to replace the Gargoyle logo used by Vacuum Oil Co. after the merger of Socony and Vacuum.

    Peotone - Location of Chicagoland Petroleum and Advertising Show (Gas Bash) held each March and October.

    Petrojumble - British term for Gas Bash. None have ever been held, but there may be some one day...

    Petrol - British/Australasian term for gasoline.

    Petrol Station - British term for gas station. Known as a Petrol Kiosk in Malaysia.

    Petroleum Collectibles Monthly Magazine - Hobby publication by Wayne Henderson and Scott Benjamin.

    Petroliana - Collectable artifacts associated with the history of the petroleum industry and its attendant icons, strictly a trade mark owned by Three Fifty Six, Inc., but widely used by hobbyists.

    Petromatica - See Petroliana; an alternative term created by the late Earl Ma to avoid infringing the Petroliana trade mark.

    Petromobilia - Canadian term for petroliana.

    Picker - Person who deals in petro-collectibles for monetary gain only, with no discernible interest in the petroliana hobby or in petroleum-related history.

    Plastic Body - Gas pump globe body made of plastic, into which glass lenses are inserted. Manufactured from about 1932 to the present, although most common in the 1950's.

    Pole Sign - UK English term for the external street sign advertising the brand sold. Typically supported by a single pole, older signs are collectible, but newer plastic ones tend to be too large. In recent years twin pole signs, often with moulded plastic panels hiding the metal supports, have become more common and are sometimes referred to as totems or pylons. These are unlikely ever to be collected owing to their large size.

    Porcelain Enamel - A silicate glass or ceramic made by firing a pure clay and glazing with various colored fusible materials.

    Porcelain Signage - Early type of signage used by gas station and other businesses for advertising purposes, made of porcelain enamel.

    Portland Gas - Annual petroleum-related swap meet and auction, held each year at Portland, Oregon. Usually convenes in September.

    Poste d'Essence - French term for filling station without servicing facilities.

    Premium (grade) - Highest grade of gasoline commercially available for automotive use. Denoted high tetraethyl content and octane ratings of 100 or greater before the tetraethyl lead ban went into effect in the 1970's; current octane ratings are approximately 92.

    Pump - Gasoline dispensing device, invented in the early 1900's. Prior to its invention, gasoline was distributed to vehicles in buckets filled from a bulk storage tank.

    Pump Plate - Metal tag attached to gasoline pumps by the manufacturer that specifies manufacturer name, pump model number, unit serial number, and other pertinent data.

    Pump Topper - Interchangable two-sided cardboard or plastic advertising display in a metal or plastic frame, perched on top of a modern gas pump; latter day equivalent to traditional globe.

    Pump Tops - British term for pump globes.

    Pylon - Twin pole external advertising sign, incorporating company identification and, commonly, prices.


    Quick - Correct spelling of a word that many US gasoline brands appear to have problems with as in Kwik Fill, Kwik Trip, Quiktrip, Quik Start, Qik'N'Ezy. Kwick Farms (a New Jersey C-store chain) is particularly objectionable. At least Quick Stop (The Pantry) gets it right...


    Rack - (1) a rack on which pipes were stacked by oil drillers, hence (2) the often overhead arrangement of pipes that carry fuel from storage tanks to road tankers, hence (3) to buy "ex-rack" is to buy from a storage depot, usually on a non-contractual basis by a smaller independent distributor. There is no evidence that this is connected with paying "rack" rates, which is derived from an old word for above-market rents.

    Raised Letters - One-piece cast glass gas pump globe featuring an oil company logotype or logo that is raised above the other surfaces of the globe, with an appearance similar to embossing.

    Raised-Letter Crown - Crown-shaped globes used by Standard Oil of Indiana that features the words, "Red Crown," "Red Crown Ethyl," "Solite," or "Crown" in raised letters.

    Rand McNally Corp. - Major producer of oil company and other roadmaps; headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.

    Rapoleum - Alternative to biodiesel based on simply crushing oilseed-rape, as an alternative to esterification. Yields are higher, but engines need some modification. Rapoleum is a trade name owned by an Irish farmers' co-op.

    Regular (grade) - The principal grade of gasoline available at most gas stations. Formerly, a mid-grade gasoline sold during the era when economy grades were available.

    Refinery - An industrial plant used for purifying a crude substance, such as petroleum.

    Refinery Sealed - Any oil container shipped "sealed" from the refinery to prevent contamination of the product. Before refinery sealing became common, oil was shipped to gas stations in bulk, where it was then transferred by station operators into glass oil bottles with metal spouts. This created the possibility that unscrupulous station operators would sell a lower-grade oil for a premium-grade price, as there was no way that the purchasing public could discern between differing grades by sight, smell or texture.

    Repro - See Reproduction.

    Reproduction - A petro-collectible that is an exact duplicate of an original (or a copy so painstakingly produced so as to appear to be an original to all but the most experienced of collectors), but not necessarily made by the same company that produced the original. Many petro-collectors shun repros in favor of an "original."

    RetroMobile - France's leading classic car show, with large associated swap meet/autojumble, held each February in Paris.

    Re-refined - A more politically correct term for "recycled," typically used in reference to motor oil which has been reclaimed, cleaned, and repackaged for sale as usable product.

    Ribbed Steel - A steel motor oil can which features ribs along its body, typically horizontal ones akin to a soup can.

    Rim - See Metal.

    Ring - See Metal Ring.

    Ripple Body - A Gill body, sometimes made of colored glass, featuring a "ripple" texture on the outside of the body.

    Road Map - A representation, usually on a large sheet of folded paper, of a region of the earth (such as a city, state, province, or country) that depicts various classifications of auto routes and roadways, as well as other significant physical features and landmarks, such as mountains and rivers.

    Road Map Collectors of America (RMCA) - Organization of hobbyists whose primary focus is the collection and documentation of twentieth century roadmaps. Organises an annual swap meet and get-together in Hammond, IN each September.

    Rodefer-Gleason Glass Co. - Early manufacturer of glass gas pump globes, headquartered in Bellaire, Ohio. They had one of the largest hand-made OEM glass facilities, specializing in opalite (or carrera) glass; they also were the sole manufacturers of the old round dental trays and cuspidors.

    Round Globe - Spherical-shaped pump globes; usually one-piece glass generic globes.


    SAE - Society of Automotive Engineers - Organization providing technical information and expertise used in designing, building, maintaining, and operating self-propelled vehicles for use on land or sea, in air or space; publishes many new, revised, and reaffirmed Ground Vehicle Standards each year, including motor oil weights.

    Sample Bottles - Set of small bottles, often in a leather case, showing all the different grades of lubricating oil available from a supplier. Some samples kits had as many as 18 different bottles in them.

    Screw-On Base - Any base that screws on to the bottom of the pump globe.

    Script-Top Pumps - Type of gasoline pump manufactured by Martin & Schwartz (and possibly others) that used embossed metal lettering or backlighted glass plates to display the oil company name or logo, usually near the top of the pump, and intended to replace pump globes. See Ad Glass.

    Secondary Brand - A brand name used by a major company on lower volume or less highly developed service stations. Sometimes also used as a discount brand, when the owner does not want to de-value his main brand. Secondary brands tends to have fewer collectibles than major brands, although they sometimes continued to use globes after their parents has dropped them in favour of a more "modern" image. As service station numbers fell after the 1970s, companies often sold or closed secondary locations, leading to fewer secondary brands, although they remained more common in Canada. Secondary brands are also used by some firms in Scandinavia on their unmanned automat stations.

    Self Service - A gasoline marketing concept originated in 1947 by a Los Angeles independent gasoline marketer named George Urich, founder of USA (U Save America) Gasoline, wherein the customer pumps gas into vehicles instead of having it done by a station employee. To quote Texaco, "Service you can Trust".

    Service Station - A gasoline fueling depot for automobiles where additional services such as repair, maintenance, or replacement of electrical or mechanical components can be obtained.

    Service Station Equipment Co. - Manufacturer of gasoline storage and dispensing systems, headquartered in Conshocken, Pennsylvania.

    Seven Sisters - The seven big Anglo-American oil companies (Esso, Shell, BP, Gulf, Mobil, Chevron and Texaco). Term popularised by Enrico Mattei, boss of the Italian state oil company Agip, in the 1950s (Italian: sette sorelle) and used for the next 20 years, usually in a slightly derogatory manner. Three were former constituents of Standard Oil (Esso, Mobil and Chevron) and two British, or Anglo-Dutch - BP and Shell. In truth, if downstream volumes had been considered Amoco (Standard Indiana) should have added, but its low level of international activity meant it was off Mattei's list. Conversely, if oil production and international reach were deciding factors, CFP-Total should have been included, but as a French company, it would have spoilt Mattei's thesis that the industry was dominated by Anglophone interests. Chevron bought Gulf in 1975 and Texaco in 2001; Exxon (Esso) bought Mobil in 1998, leaving just four sisters (and Total).

    Shed - Second in a series of ten architecturally-recognized standard gas station types; developed in about 1915. Most were simple enclosures, similar to buildings located in lumberyards and coal yards, with gravel or dirt driveways.

    Shell - Milk-glass gas pump globe shaped like the Shell Oil Company logo. Used exclusively by The Shell Oil Co.

    Sight Glass - A clear glass device used on gas pumps, beginning in the 1940's, through which gasoline flowed, allowing customers to view the product being pumped into their vehicles, so as to give visual verification of the quality and quantity of the purchased product.

    Slim Olson, Inc. - Owner and operator of what was in the 1950's considered to be "the world's largest" self-service gas station, with 43 pumps, located in northern Nevada.

    Small Box - Seventh in a series of ten architecturally-recognized standard gas station types. Developed by independent dealers in the 1950's, who often offered no TBA's or repair services, in response to full-service dealers. With service bays, TBA showrooms, and storage spaces not necessary, a diminutive building large enough for only a small office and perhaps a cigarette or soft drink machine was all that was required, as these dealers usually relied on their low advertised gasoline prices as the main draw for customers.

    Small Box with Canopy - Eighth in a series of ten architecturally-recognized standard gas types; similar to the "Small Box," but with canopy added to help protect customers from severe weather.

    topSocony - Standard Oil Company of New York. Forerunner to today's Mobil.

    Solar Electric Canteen Co. - Manufacturer of gas pump globes, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.

    Solus Station - (UK, Australasia) Petrol station selling just one brand, at a time when most sold several names. Used mainly from the 1950s (when Mobilgas started the push to solus sites in Britain) until the early 1970s when multi-branded (or "free") stations disappeared completely. Solus stations are sometimes called "tied" stations. In the USA they are known as "undivided" and were prevalent earlier, except in certain states such as California.

    Southwest Pump Co. - Early manufacturer of gasoline storage and dispensing systems, headquartered in Bonham, Texas.

    Spangler Sign Corp. - Early manufacturer of gas pump globes, headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    Sphere Globe - See Round Globe.

    Split Station - See Divided Station.

    Standard Flame - See Flame.

    Star Rating - British gasoline was sold by its star rating from the mid 1960s to 1990s set according to a British Standard BS4040. Most stations sold two star (92-93 octane) and four star (97-99 octane). Until the late 1970s, five star (100+ octane) was commonly sold as well, and mid grades (three star, 94-96 octane) were found at most stations. BP introduced blender pumps into the UK (also used by Skelly in the US) that could dispense 7 different octane ratings between 2 star and 5 star. Most cars would run happily on three star, but most motorists used four star. The introduction of star ratings led to the demise of grade names:

    Two Star

    Three Star

    Four Star

    Five Star



    Shell Economy


    Super Shell



    Esso Mixture

    Esso Plus

    Esso Extra


    BP Regular

    BP Blend

    BP Super

    BP Super-Plus

    Regent or Texaco

    Regent Regular


    Regent Super

    Regent Supreme


    Mobil Regular

    n/a (? Economy)

    Mobil Special

    Mobil Super-Special


    Fina Standard

    Fina Special

    Fina Super

    Fina Super-Plus

    Until the introduction of star ratings, the 100 Octane Esso Extra was not the highest grade; that was reserved for Esso Golden which peaked at an unbelievable (and unnecessary!) 104 Octane in the early 1960s. The stars also killed Good Gulf and Burmah Best and contributed to the demise of globes, which had once carried the grade names. Stars were in turn killed by unleaded fuel; in the mid 1990s the choice was between four star and (regular) unleaded, with a few companies also selling super unleaded. They are gone but not totally forgotten; lead replacement petrol (LRP) was widely sold as "Unleaded four star". It wasn't.

    Station Service - French term for service station.

    Straight-Sided Steel (SS) - The standard round sealed steel oil can of the 1930's to early 1980's, with a variety of different seam configurations. Still regularly used sporadically outside the U.S.

    Strassenkarte - German for street map (but also used for road maps).

    Streamline Moderne - A design aesthetic that stressed the ideas of movement, streamlining, and speed, and was typified by the use of rounded corners, and the teardrop shape. This aesthetic was applied to gas station architecture by Norman Bel Geddes, Raymond Loewy, and Walter Dorwin Teague (among others) in the 1930's and '40s.

    Sub-Regular (grade) - See Motor. Also known as "Commercial" in the UK.

    Super (grade) - See Premium.


    Tankholz - Wood pellets for use in steam powered motor vehicles (trucks), used in Germany in and after the Second World War.

    Tankstelle - German for gasoline filling station.

    Tin - Australian English term for oil or grease can.

    Tires, Batteries, and Accessories (TBA) - Point-of-purchase items stocked by many gas station operators to supplement gasoline and oil sales. Included such diverse items as fan belts, tire repair kits, headlights, battery cables, etc.

    Teague, Walter Dorwin - Designer/architect of the 1940's-era Texaco corporate identity, whose main impetus was streamlined, gleaming white porcelain-enamel gas stations with green tri-lines running horizontally across the parapet, and red Texaco logotype. The same basic design was used internationally on Caltex stations. This identity was replaced by a new mansarded-roof design beginning in about 1964.

    Tetraethyl - See Ethyl.

    Theo - Type of gas pump capable of dispensing multiple brands or grades from a single unit, made in Liverpool, England.

    Three-Piece Globe - Any gas pump globe with two lenses and a body.

    Tiger Hightest Magazine - The Petroliana hobby magazine originally responsible for this web glossary. Headquartered in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, but dormant since 2001.

    Tokheim Oil Tank and Pump Co. - Manufacturer of gasoline pumps and dispensing systems; headquartered in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

    Torch - See Flame.

    Touraide - "Touraide Travel Service," a free service (which included roadmaps and routing instructions) offered to motorists by the Continental Oil Co. (Conoco) in the 1920's.

    Tracksider - Fuel marketer located along a railroad siding during the 1950s. Fuels were delivered in bulk by tank car, then sold retail at discount prices.

    Truckstop - A restaurant (and usually a motel) in conjunction with a service station, located as along an interstate highway and catering especially to truckers.

    Tulsa - 1) Tulsa Oil, Gas and Advertising Show; An annual petroleum-related swap meet and auction, held each year at Tulsa, Oklahoma. Usually convenes in November. 2) Oil company formerly headquartered in Detroit, Michigan; when purchased by Rock Island Oil in 1978, Tulsa retail outlets were re-branded to Speedway. 3) New England independent which later merged with Gibbs.

    Two Gallon Can - The standard way of dispensing petrol in the UK before petrol pumps were used. Most cans were sold by garages or ironmongers sealed by the petrol company, and were of a standard dimension to fit onto a car's running board. Cans were typically embossed with the logo or name of the petrol brand, and supplied with a heavy brass cap. Although they remained the property of the petrol company, and continued in use to some extent to the 1930s, many examples were never returned to their suppliers. As a result many cans survive and both cans and caps are widely collected in the UK.

    Two-Piece - A gas pump globe manufactured in two halves, then assembled into a completed globe.

    Type A - The first functional fluid formulated specifically for automatic transmissions, introduced in 1949 and recommended by all major car manufacturers. This fluid carried an "AQ" number on the container with an "Armour Qualification" number test issued by the Armour Research Foundation. Type A Suffix A debuted in 1959 as an improved version for power glide automatic transmissions.

    Type F - Ford vehicle designation for automatic transmission fluid, introduced in 1967 as a replacement for Type A Suffix A ATF and phased out in May 1980.


    Unleaded (grade) - Gasoline for vehicular usage that lacks any form of tetraethyl lead in its chemical makeup. The standard fuel for today's gasoline-powered vehicles.

    Underground Storage Tanks (UST) - Gasoline or diesel fuel storage tanks that are located underground, beneath the service station and its pumps.


    Veeder-Root Co. - Manufacturer of the first "computer" gas pump.

    Visible Register Pump - A type of gas pump developed in the early 1900's in which gasoline was hand-pumped (usually from an underground storage tank) into a glass cylinder located at the top of the pump, then was gravity-fed by rubber hose into a vehicle's gas tank.


    Wayne Oil Tank & Pump Co. - Manufacturer of gasoline storage and dispensing systems, headquartered in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

    White Glass - White-colored glass, with an appearance that is more dull and off-white than milk glass; used in the manufacture of gas pump globes.

    White Station, Witte Pomp - Filling stations that are free of company ties - see Free Station.

    Wide Body - Glass gas pump globe body that is wider than standard; usually seven to eight inches wide.

    Window Insert - Gas pump globe lens used in the window of a gas station or other building; not intended for use as a pump globe lens.

    World Oil Can Collectors' Organization (WOCCO) - Organization of petro-hobbyists whose main focus is the collection and documentation of oil cans. Headquartered in Ohio and headed by W. Clark Miller. Dormant since 1993.


    X - Suffix used by some Scandinavian discount petrol brands, as in Uno-X, Din-X and Heni-X. Uno-X was the first regional discounter and so soon attracted imitators.



    Zapfsaule - German term for gas pump.

    Zapfstelle - German term for a small gasoline filling station design, often consisting of a single pump or columnar building that could be opened out to reveal the delivery mechanism inside. Used largely in urban areas and located on sidewalks (pavements).

    The Bibliography formerly included at this point has now been moved to a separate page.

    topThanks to these contributors: Ian Byrne, Barry Darlington, Noel Levy, Earl Ma, Jack Sim and Jim Tarbet.

    Original contents of this page © Copyright 2001 by Garage Wall Graphics/Guy Kudlemyer
    Special thanks to Guy Kudlemyer for creating this page and permitting its continued appearance on the web.
    Thanks also to the web archive for allowing this page to be rescued from the dustbin (Brit. = trash can; place where oil cans and bottles are deposited when not being recycled or saved for posterity) of history.

    Glossary & top logos, formatting changes and updates © Ian Byrne, 2003-14

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