Oil Memorabilia – Signs


Oil memorabilia is probably one of the most highly sought after collectibles – as well as having a high  demand  for decorating game rooms, offices, pool areas, dens, garages and restaurants.

In fact the market for this collectible is one of the few that has retained its value and desirability over the years.

We typically think of signs when talking about oil collectibles, however, you can say there are four major categories to collecting oil company memorabilia.

Oil Memorabilia Categories

  • Signs
  • Gas globes
  • Pumps
  • Cans

However, we’ll only be talking about the different types of signs in this post. 

Signs are popular because they are easy to handle, easy to store and display well. Often found – and prominently displayed  – at antique shops, signs can also be had at local auto swap meets and flea markets.

Depending on the condition and size, you should be able to find a good oil sign ranging in price anywhere from $50 to $300. However, like any collectible,  a rare, pretty or unique sign will  cost more . . . but will have a better chance to appreciate in value and since serious collectors are always looking for the rare and unusual, they typically  have a better resale opportunity.

Types of Signs

There are several types of oil company signs on the market to collect:

Porcelain– most popular; produced when glass frit was applied to a metal screen which was placed over the sign. The screen was then removed and the sign was fired in a kiln.  This is the type of signs most people  think of  when someone says ‘ oil sign’ .

Tin & Painted – popular because they offer more variety, graphics, scenes and multiple colors. Painted signs were usually painted with enamels .

Neon – use of neon tubing made for a eye-catching sign that still looks great today.

Flange signs – hang perpendicular to a wall or post. Their distinct feature is a right angle edge for mounting on one side only – as such they add variety to a display or collection

Framed signs – any sign that was enclosed in a frame.

30″ Diameter signs – a perennial favorite

Curb signs – framed signs with a base on a short pedestal that can sit on the floor (these are considered to be rare)

‘No Smoking’ signs – material for these signs varied; smaller signs that can easily display anywhere

All of these signs come in different varieties, i.e., single-sided, double-sided, wooden and framed. There are some collectors content with collecting a wide variety of oil signs, others favor sticking to one category and style. You’ll also find collectors that like to focus on one particular oil company, while others are like to mix it up and collect a particular type of sign from many different oil companies.

Watch Out for Fakes!

While major interest in collecting oil memorabilia – especially signs – hasn’t diminished over the years, caution should be exercised when making a purchase. The main drawback ‘newbies‘  and those not completely familiar with oil company signs will experience is the significant increase in reproductions.

Only by knowing the characteristics of original signs, i.e, which signs were made in what sizes; whether or not a particular sign was double-sided, etc. can you protect yourself from unscrupulous dealers who would sell a reproduction for an original.


If you’re planning on collecting oil signs for pleasure or maybe with a thought to their future value, study and familiarize yourself with the originals and fakes before making any purchases. Regardless of what you collect, you should educate yourself in that field so that you can make educated purchases based on knowledge not emotion.

Two excellent reference books for oil memorabilia are Oil Company Signs, A Collector’s Guide  and Mobil Collector’s & Price Guide – both available from Amazon.


7 comments to Oil Memorabilia – Signs

  • Amy winks

    I have acquired first oil samples in original test bottles from 4 of Australia’s first oil fields, any idea regarding the value?
    Regards Amy – Australia

    • David

      Amy – I would imagine so. Look for people who collect brand names, or oil memorabilia. Sometimes museums also buy items such as this. David

  • andrew

    I recently bought a house and was cleaning out the shed and found a metal basket. the basket has 6 slots in it and has a red circle with a guy running in it as well as the name cramer. i looked around on the internet and found the symbol and a sheet saying BP had dealing wiht them, but i am trying to find out if i shold just get rid of the basket or if it’s actually worth keepeing.

  • Mark Wallace

    I need a Philips 66 sign from 40 – 60s for a retro station
    If anyon can help

  • Priscilla

    My name is Priscilla and I recently stepped into a position of selling a gentleman’s personal collection of antique oil/gas signs, pumps and collectibles. This is a VERY extensive collection and I am looking for buyers, traders and any other opportunities that are out there to utilize this amazing lot!

    Have a blessed day!

  • david polanzak

    To Whom It May Concern,

    My name is David Polanzak and I’m a Casting Director at the television production company Zodiak USA, in Santa Monica, CA. We are putting together a show on antiques and collectibles and we’re looking to film a family who has a lot of items, some of which they’re interested in selling. I would love to talk with you about what we’re doing and possibly work together to let as many people in your antiques network know about it.

    Please feel free to contact me at your convenience.

    Thanks in advance for your time.


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