Shell Oil collectibles & memorabilia
Shell Oil is a major American oil company, the US subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell. Advertising collectibles related to the brand is a popular area of petroliana collectibles.Background
The Shell name and logo came from the earlier business run by the founder Marcus Samuel, importing and selling sea shells to London collectors.
He saw the potential in the oil exporting business and established the Shell Transport and Trading Company. The company merged with the Royal Dutch Petroleum company to form Royal Dutch Shell in 1907.
The company rose to prominence in the new developing market for gasoline. Shell motor spirit was used at the Brooklands racing track, by Shackleton and Captain Scott in their Antarctic expedition, and by Bleriot on his inaugural cross-Channel flight.
Shell oil was a major feature of the Allied war effort, and lead to prosperous inter-war years. By the end of the 1920s, Shell was the world’s leading oil company.
Shell was therefore at the forefront of the second world war, and the scientific and mechanical advancements that followed, walking hand-in-hand with development.
The 1920s and 1930s saw popular modernist artists designing unique and attractive advertising posters for Shell. These are very popular with collectors.
Shell's advertising campaign sought to make their products synonymous with the dawn of the motor car. As more and more members of the public drove for pleasure and enjoyment as well as motors being tested and improved with feats of speed and endurance, Shell's miracle motor spirit was marketed as 'the spirit of the age'.
Their witty and lighthearted slogans evoked the escapism that motor cars symbolised for many people, at a time when Britain and America were in the gloomy depths of economic recession and Depression.
As World War II rationing ended, Shell was permitted to once again sell petrol under its own name. A vast advertising campaign ensued, producing a great amount of memorabilia from this time. Shell used visiting artists for poster campaigns, and published road guides which became a famous item of merchandise.
Collectible items of memorabilia
The Shell logo is one of the most familiar commercial symbols in the world. Products or merchandise featuring historic examples of the logo are very sought after by collectors.
- Oil bottles, spouts and cans
- Gas globes
- Vintage advertisements, such as Shellubrication posters
- Original gas station signs, large neon or metal displays with the Shell logo
- Mobil glassware such as gas station tumblers
- Antique gas pumps
- Toy model Shell trucks, tankers and SUVs
- Shell road guides
- Motoring related Shell brand products such as aerosols, lock fluid, cleaner fluids, wax, polish, windshield washer etc.
- Gas station dispensers for towels, maps, oil etc
- Merchandise such as calendars, matchbooks, thermometers, playing cards, ashtrays, coffee mugs, knives, lighters
Some believe that as fuel supplies dwindle, gas and oil collectibles will become a thing of the past, a nostalgic item that becomes more and more scarce and valuable to collectors.
At present however, Shell memorabilia is easy to find on internet auction sites such as eBay, in second hand stores and at garage sales.
Antique and vintage petroliana collectibles are rising steadily in price.
There are several Shell Oil collectors forums, clubs and trading platforms to connect with other collectors. Shellmobilia is one such example.
- Shell showcase display of Shell products including Shelltox aerosol insecticide, lighter fluid, pens, bottle opener, Lock-Ease lock fluid, double strength car was, whitewall cleaner, pre-wax cleaner and polish, windshield washer and parts loosener etc. Sold for $34,000 at RM Auctions in 2012.
- Boxed Buddy ‘L’ Shell model oil truck. Sold for $7,000 at Bertoia Auctions in 2012.
- Shell Studios poster – ‘The Quick Starting Pair – Shell Oil & Shell Petrol’. Sold for £5,760 at Sotheby’s in 2003.
- 1935 poster ‘Motorists Prefer Shell’ by John Stewart Anderson. Sold for $3,500 at Poster Auctions International in 2010.
- ‘Shellubricate’ poster, sold for $2,800 at Poster Auctions International in 2012.
- 1933 poster ‘Actors Prefer Shell’ by E. McKnight Kauffer. Sold for $2,200 at Poster Auctions International in 2011.
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