News & Insights

Petroliana at Auction

20th February 2019. By Jeremy Pattison

The market for Automobilia is thriving – with our dedicated Motor Vehicle and Automobilia Sales attracting crowds of classic car enthusiasts, all eager to take home their own little piece of motoring history. Automobilia covers a wide variety of vintage items – from car mascots to cherished number plates, car badges, vintage car accessories and branded goods and sundry collectables connected with classic cars and motorsports. However, one of the most popular areas of collecting amongst fans is Petroliana – branded vintage items relating to the petrol industry, which includes old fuel pumps, oil cans, illuminated glass pump globes and enamel advertising signs.

In the first half of the 20th century fuel was sold from mechanics, and until the 1950s these independent garages would sell petrol from more than one supplier. Each supplier would have their own pump, often topped with an illuminated glass globe, and bright enamel signs – to catch the attention of passing motorists. In the second half of the century, the big oil companies began imposing exclusive contracts on the garages, before dominating the industry with their own dedicated petrol stations in the 1970s.

Appealing to a wide audience of car enthusiasts, specialist buyers, vintage collectors and interior designers, Petroliana is much in demand at auction. Often displayed alongside classic cars, the simple but bold colours, strong graphic design and patina of these objects exert a strong visual appeal.

At the top end of the market are the petrol pumps – good examples of which can sell for thousands of pounds. The glass globes from the tops of pumps can sell for the early to mid-hundreds – with many destined to be turned into unusual table lamps. Across the board, prices for Petroliana have been rising in recent years, but especially so for desirable enamel signs. At our auctions, prices for enamel signs start at around £100, but attractive examples of rarer signs in good condition reach the high hundreds and into the thousands.

Entries of Automobilia and Petroliana are now accepted for sale.

Jeremy Pattison

Jeremy Pattison

Managing Director

Furniture, Garden Statuary, Motor Vehicles and Automobilia Specialist, General Valuer

+ 44 (0) 1969 623780
jeremy.pattison@tennants-ltd.co.uk

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