Despite the recent downward trend in gasoline prices, the fear of filling up and anguish while pulling up to the pump is still a regular response. One of the only places where pumps are greeted with enthusiasm is in the company of gas pump collectors, and those passionate about petroliana – such as at the 22nd annual Iowa Gas event. As one of the oldest events catering strictly to the interest of gas pump and petroliana collectors, historians and petroleum retirees, this year’s Iowa Gas, held July 31 thru August 2 attracted several hundred dealers, vendors and visitors from across the country.
As one of the “elders” of all collecting categories, gas pumps and petroleum memorabilia continues to appeal to collectors hailing from a variety of other interests. Not unlike many other collecting categories, the ebb and flow of this market is what it is.
“The high-end merchandise, premium investment-grade merchandise, as it were, continues to grow at a steady pace,” said Ron Hoyt, Iowa Gas co-founder. He went on to say that while this is the case with top shelf items, the prices of ordinary, casually collected items has leveled off some. Auction action at the Iowa event though produced many noteworthy outcomes, with a number of oilcans selling for $2,000+ each, and several vintage signs going for between $3,000 and $12,000, according to Hoyt.
Those passionate about pumps still have the 20th annual Dixie Gas, Oil & Gas Swapmeet, Mass Gas Bash, Pacific Northwest Sea Bash and Stoke Pacific Gas Bash to make the trek to, and that’s just during the month of September. To get a run down of all the gas bashes and events visit www.oldgas.com — one of the major hubs for pump and petroleum memorabilia collectors, as well as the site owned and operated by Jack Sim, the author of the recently released second edition of An Illustrated Guide to Gas Pumps.
Sim, who has been collecting gas pumps and petroleum memorabilia for nearly 20 years, got started with 100 gas pumps, a stack of signs, some globes, and miscellaneous memorabilia he purchased from an oil jobber in southern Illinois. That first step into the hobby also set the stage for what would become the material for An Illustrated Guide to Gas Pumps.
“One thing the owner showed me was a parts/repair manual for a Tokheim pump. He wouldn’t let me have it, so I thought there must be something about literature I didn’t know,” writes Sim about his interaction with the man who sold him the items that started his collection, in the introduction of his new book.
Since that time Sim has accumulated enough service station literature to fill 41 file drawers. This collection, including many illustrations and photos of rare pumps never-before published outside of equipment catalogs, is showcased on the pages of the new full-color second edition of An Illustrated Guide to Gas Pumps.
Covering more than 2,000 gas pumps, manufactured between 1885 and 1965, this pump identification and price guide is sure to replace today’s fill up fears with fond fascination for the way it was.