Esso collectibles & memorabilia



2015-06-26 10:56:53

Esso is a brand of oil and fuel owned by ExxonMobil. Advertising memorabilia related to the brand is a popular area of petroliana collectibles.Background

When, in 1911, the Standard Oil Company was split into 34 smaller companies, Esso took its name from the phonetic pronunciation of the initials S.O in 1934, under the banner of the ExxonMobil company that also owns Mobil Oil.

Fuel was and continues to be sold under this brand to many US states and across the UK.

Advertising campaigns

The Esso logo uses the colours of red and blue that the ExxonMobil also employ in their Mobil Oil logo. However the red Esso is encircled within a blue ring. The words of the particular product are then below in blue, for example ‘Ethyl’ for Ethyl petrol.

From the 1930s, Theodore Seuss Geisel, best known as children's author and illustrator Dr Seuss, illustrated a series of advertisements for a motor boat lubricant produced under the brand name Essomarine, and later also the product Essolube motor oil. These are collectible as examples of the artist's early work, and of interest to both petroliana and Dr Seuss collectors.

Other 1930s Esso adverts are sought after as examples of Art Deco petroliana.

Esso began to use a tiger to advertise its fuel after the Second World War. The slogan ‘Put a tiger in your tank’ became a mainstay of their advertising. They also sold merchandise in the form of tiger tails to fix around petrol caps, and bumper stickers stating ‘I’ve got a tiger in my tank’. 2.5 million tails were sold.

A memorabilia British Esso advertising campaign was that of Esso Blue, the British brand of Esso paraffin oil used in domestic heaters. They used the tune of the song ‘Smoke gets in your eyes’ and reworded it: ‘They asked me how I knew, it was Esso Blue, I of course replied, with lower grades one buys, smoke gets in your eyes’. They released the track on flexi disk, and gave it away for free in hardware stores. These are now collectible, as well as vintage Esso Blue advertisement.

Collectible items of memorabilia

  • Vintage advertisements
  • Dr Seuss Essomarine and Essolube advertisments
  • Esso gas pumps
  • Esso oil bottles and cans
  • Esso Blue paraffin containers
  • Esso toy cars, trucks, tankers, gas stations and pumps
  • Original gas station signs, neon and metal displays
  • Esso merchandise such as calendars, matchbooks, thermometers, playing cards, ashtrays, coffee mugs, lighters etc.

Many artists, particularly pop artists, use the Esso logo in their work, as it is an iconic emblem of American culture.

Variants and other products

  • Esso Blue
  • Esso Ethyl petrol
  • Esso High Test petrol
  • Esso Benzol mixture
  • Essolube motor oil
  • Essomarine

Collecting tips

Collectors may focus on several of the split of brands of Standard Oil, or just Esso memorabilia.

Advertising featuring the famous Esso tiger is particularly popular.

Esso memorabilia is often sold in job lots of many items. It can be found on eBay, in second hand stores, garage sales, flea markets, or at petroliana auctions.

Notable sales

  • Vintage Esso gas pump, sold for $5,000 at Dan Kruse Classics in 2012
  • Boxed Esso model stake truck, sold for $3,500 at Bertoia Auctions in 2009
  • Esso Standard illuminated sign, sold for $2,300 at RM Auctions in 2012
  • Esso sign, sold for $1,800 at RM Auctions in 2007
  • Large Esso fibreglass advertising tiger figure, sold for $1,250 at Paul McInnis in 2010
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