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Vintage Gas Pump & Oil History

All articles on this website written by K.J. Zeoli. Copyrights apply

Tokheim Model 850 Circa 1930 - 1939


Why People Collect Vintage Gas Pumps

Collecting vintage gas pumps can be a passion with a payoff. There are a number                                       of reasons why you should consider investing in a collectable vintage gas pump. Initially, a vintage gas pump is a worthwhile investment, unlike stocks or bonds you are able to take pleasure in your pumps and display your vintage gas pump for all to admire. Vintage pumps are no different than a fine work of art or a great classic car. It's all about the lines and eye appeal. You can take a walk out to your garage or man-cave with your favorite glass of wine and sit there and admire them. Vintage gas pumps like many other antiques are usually inclined to increase in value over time.

The chances of making money on your investment of a vintage gas pump are very good, unlike new or reproduction items that have no return on investment and lose money once they leave the store.

Vintage gas pumps are tangible links with the past, bringing collectors closer to a period of time that they may remember from their childhood and offer an exceptional opportunity to learn about the historical periods from which a particular vintage gas pump is from. Good quality and craftsmanship associated with a vintage gas pump is a lost art form, due to the introduction of mass-produced items. Vintage gas pumps are unique to their particular time period, art deco style pumps where produced in the late 20’s and early 30’s at the height of the art deco movement making art deco pumps some of the most valuable and desirable pumps.

The thrill of the hunt, looking for vintage gas pumps can be a great reason to travel. Collecting vintage gas pumps is a hobby and chances are you will meet a variety of interesting people from all walks of life who also collect.

When starting your collection of vintage gas pumps always remember, buy the very best that you can afford at the time. You can always trade up at a later date.

                                     Wayne Roman Column Vintage Gas Pump

The year was 1923; the place Indiana and the perpetrator the Wayne Tank & Pump Company.

The time, place & company is significant in the world of vintage gas pump collectables, as it was the first year the Wayne Pump Co introduced a totally redesigned visible gas pump. The Wayne model 490 a cross between Roman and ancient Greek column design.

The company’s catch phrase for the newly designed pump was “Wayne’s newest, America’s finest and the world’s most beautiful visible pump”. They were surely onto something! In an attempt to produce an enhanced looking gasoline pump, Wayne decided to construct a more decorative pump that would position itself from the completion. As more affluent cities grew in the 1920’s, the need became ever stronger to produce  more modern and efficient filling stations to serve the exponential automobile growth. Wayne recognized the new stations would need a pump that would stand out as well as reflect the new filling stations modern architecture.

The Wayne model 490 would prove to be the first version in a series of visible pumps which went on to include the models 491, 491-F, 492 and the 492-F. The 490, 491 and 492 models were all 10 gallon capacity pumps. The 491-F and 492-F were the smaller 5 gallon capacity pumps.

The Wayne 490 is one of the rarest, most sought after visible gasoline pumps in North America. The small number, of these visible pumps produced between 1923 and 1924, and the pumps architecture coupled with low production numbers make them extremely rare and sought after by the discerning collector. Some estimates are that only four (4) models of the 490 exist today.

The design of the 490 was so popular Wayne implemented many of the architectural elements of the 490 into its 1924 successor models 491, 491-F, 492 and the 492-F. The fluted column on the 490 was much smaller in diameter than the 491 and 492 models. Other changes made to the later models were cast iron gallon markers were exchanged for cheaper and easier to produce aluminum markers.

Wayne significantly extended the production numbers of the new 491 and 492 versions, while promoting the new versions as descendants of ancient Greek & Roman architecture. The 400 model series of pumps are commonly referred to as “Roman Column Pumps”, “Corinthian Pumps”, or “Greek Column Pumps”.

wayne roman colunm gas pump webpage.jpg

The First Kerosene / Gas Pump

Circa 1884, customers who wanted to purchase kerosene or gasoline would visit their local hardware, general, or grocery store, and wait for the attendee to ladle the required amount of gas from a barrel or tank usually located at the back of the store. With no safety protocols in place at the time, customers would arrive at the store with any old container they had laying around. 


On September 5th 1885 S.F. (Sylvanus Freelove) Bowser sold his newly invented kerosene delivery system, to store owner Jake Gumper, of Fort Wayne Indiana. Gumper was fed up with trying to ladle flammable kerosene liquid into different sizes and types of containers that customers would bring in to the store.  He decided to purchase and implement Bowser’s first pump in his store, making the store more efficient, prevent spillage and make it safer for everyone.

By 1899, Bowser had great insight into what the future held in terms of petroleum distribution. He could see how the arrival of Edison’s electric light bulb.would allow consumers to be less dependent on kerosene. Timing was also a factor in Browsers success, within a decade Henry Ford would start mass producing his model T Ford. This would make the Model T affordable for the ordinary consumer, and as the automobile’s popularity grew, Bowser’s gas company company grew as well. .

Kerosene & Gasoline “CRACKING” process in easy to understand terms


Cracking hydrocarbon chains is how you refine heavier hydrocarbons (heavy crude oils) into lighter ones such as (kerosene). The hydrocarbon molecular chains in heavy crude oils are long. The heavier the oil, the longer the chain and the same holds true in reverse, the lighter the oil the shorter chains.  Heavy crude oil (and extra heavy crude oil) is highly-viscous oil that doesn’t easily flow. It is referred to as "heavy" because its density or specific gravity is higher than that of light crude oil. Inversely, light crude oil is liquid petroleum that has a low density and flows freely at room temperature. It has a low viscosity, low specific gravity and high API gravity due to the presence of a high proportion of light hydrocarbon fractions. Gasoline had an assortment of uses prior to the arrival of the automobile. It was typically used as a solvent, and for fuel for gas lamps, stoves and to run machinery such as a hit and miss motors etc.

Bowser Kerosene pump

S.FBowser’s first kerosene pump

 Patent Oct, 25th, 1887

S.F Bowser salesman sample gas pump antique

Early example of S.FBowser’s kerosene pump

In the later part of the 1880’s, cars became more popular, and gasoline dispensing was done the same way kerosene had been dispensed.  Gasoline was ladled from barrels. Both canned gasoline and barrels relied on the ‘‘pour-and-funnel’’ or ‘‘drum-and-measure’ dispensing approach. For barrels, this involved ladling gasoline into a container, carrying it to the car and then pouring it into the fuel tank through a funnel. The funnel was lined with a cloth filter. used to remove impurities. The pour-and-funnel method was messy, dangerous, and inefficient.

web bowser.jpg

Gas tanker, used in the early 1900's to transport gas & kerosene to  resellers. This was a common delivery method at the time.

Side Note

Gulf Oil Co was one of the first to color tankers orange so merchants could easily identify them.

The fill and pour method

In 1910 gasoline accounted for less than 10 percent of the quantity of products recovered from the distillation process of crude oil. By the 1930’s the automobile was used by a large number of households and businesses. Gasoline consumption rose, exceeding 40 percent of crude products. Inversely, by the 1930’s, kerosene recovery only accounted for a mere 5 percent of crude oil.

mclaughlin Carriage Co.jpg
web bowser.jpg

Gasoline Pumping and Volumetric Coefficients

Gasoline expands and contracts substantially with temperature fluctuations. A comparison of the coefficient of thermal expansion between gas and water at 20° shows that the volume of gas transforms at 4.5 times the rate of water.

Volumetric thermal expansion coefficient


Many countries have rigid specifications on the accuracy that a gas pump must distribute, the average being 0.3% accuracy at a reference temperature of 60°F. So a 10-US-gallon (37.9 L) gas purchase could actually deliver 9.97 US gal (37.7 L) to 10.03 US gal (38.0 L).

 If we where to take into consideration that 10 gallons of gas at 85°F will expand to 10.15 US gallons or 38.4L, then if we drop the temperature to 30°F the gas will then contract to roughly 9.83US gallons. Each of the above volumes corresponds to the same theoretical quantity of energy.

Gasoline Timeline

  • Early 1900's fuels for the automobile were coal distillates and lighter fractions from the distillation of crude oil.

  • September 5, 1885, the first commercial kerosene / gasoline pump was invented by Sylvanus Bowser of Fort Wayne, Indiana and sold to Jake Gumpers, hardware store.

  • September 6, 1892, the first gasoline-powered tractor, was built by John Froelich of Iowa. Froelich also formed the Waterloo Gasoline Tractor Engine Company, which was later purchased by the John Deere .

  • June 11, 1895, the first U.S. patent for a gasoline-powered automobile was issued to Charles Duryea of  Massachusetts.

  • By the early 20th century, oil companies began to produce gasoline as a simple distillate from petroleum.

  • During the 1910s, laws started to prohibited the storage of gasoline in underground tanks on residential properties.

  • January 7, 1913, William Meriam Burton received a patent for his cracking process to convert oil to gasoline.

  • January 1, 1918, the first U.S. gasoline pipeline began moving gasoline through a small diameter pipeline over 40 miles from Salt Creek to Casper, Wyoming.

  • February 2, 1923,  gasoline started to sell in the US.

  • In 1923, Almer McDuffie McAfee developed the petroleum industry's first commercially viable catalytic cracking process, which was a far more efficient method, tripling the gasoline yield from crude oil.

  • 1920s, gasoline was 40 - 60 Octane.

  • 1930s, the petroleum industry fazed out the use of kerosene.

  • 1937, Eugene Houdry invented the cracking process of low-grade fuel into high test gasoline.

  • 1950s, automobile compression ratio get higher, forcing compnies to produce higher octane fuels to meet the new compression demands. More lead was added to gasoline, the new refining process of (hydro-cracking) comenced.


Residential Garage ("Pony")  Gasoline Pumps

Private garage pumps were known as outfits. Service stations had not yet to come to fruition, so pump manufacturers of the day had to sell a full gas delivery system to “outfit” the customer’s residential garages. The outfit consisted of a shallow buried underground storage tank, made of metal. The small “pony” pump was connected to the tank via a steel line. These early "pony" pumps were small and easy to use. By 1906 Tokheim had perfected his "pony" pump, which he called "The Tokheim Dome Oil Pump Outfit". The pump consisted of a small glass cylinder allowing the operator to see how much gas was being drawn with each stroke of the pump. Tokheim's "Dome Outfit" was one of the first pumps in the world to see wide-spread commercial use. Tokheim's "Dome Outfit Pump" was manufactured from hollow metal  tubing and cast iron. The pump was comprised of brass cylinder and valves. The pump also had a thick glass dome that was painted with graduated markings which denoted fractions of a gallon. The pump also featured a self priming chamber, ensuring a rapid discharge. The pump stood approximately 5.8' and weighed 135 lbs. The pump also featured a sturdy metal base offering both stability and a place to easily bolt the pump down. The pump also featured a grated metal drip pan. 

bowser garage pump.jpg

Bowser private garage tank outfit

Below is an exert and picture of Tokheim's 1902 patent application for the "Tokheim Dome Oil Pump"

Application filed May 13, 1902.

To all whom it may concern..- Y

Be it known that we, JOHN J. TOKHEIM, residing at Thor, in the county of Humboldt, and EDWARD O. MANSFIELD, residing at Cedar Rapids, in the county of Linn, State of Iowa, citizens of the United States, have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Measuring-Pumps, of which the following is a specification. t

This invention relates to pumps adapted for the drawing and measuring of liquids, such as oil, the construction being such that a delineate quantity may be pumped into a graduated transparent receptacle,where the amount may be easily seen by a purchaser, and thence quickly emptied into a vessel for delivery to such purchaser

Below Are Blueprints From Tokheim's 1903 Patent Application Of The "Tokheim Dome Oil Pump Outfit".

The Pump Would Go On To Be The First Widely Commercially Used Pump

tokheim patent oil dome outfit.jpg
tokheim dome gas pump framed.jpg
gilbert and barker first gasoline pump.j

Tokheim "Dome Oil Pump Outfit"

1902 picture of dome schematic

Gilbert & Barker "pony" pump Model 1 circa 1902

Tokheim "Dome Oil Pump Outfit" circa 1902 full schematic

"Pony" or Private Residential Garage Pumps
Kewanee pony pump 1910

Kewanee pony pump 1910

Kewanee pony pump circa 1910

Pony pumps restored

Pony pumps restored

Restored various pony pumps

Pony pumps

Pony pumps

Pony pumps

Tokheim model 4

Tokheim model 4

Tokheim model 4 circa 1901

Colubian model 19

Colubian model 19

Columbian model 19 circa 1914




gilbaro model 3 pony pump

gilbaro model 3 pony pump

G & B pony pump model 3 circa 1901

Tokheim model 6 circa 1901

Tokheim model 6 circa 1901

Tokheim model 6 circa 1901

G Winchell Oil Barrel Pump

G Winchell Oil Barrel Pump

G Winchell Oil Barrel Pump circa 1885

Bowser model 94 circa 1904

Bowser model 94 circa 1904

Bowser model 94 pony pump circa 1904

tank works model 9 circa 1908 to 1926

tank works model 9 circa 1908 to 1926

Milwaukee Tank Works model 9 circa 1908

Trahern Pump Co Factory

The Trahern Pump Company was established in 1857, on the corner of Wyman and Mills streets. It became an incorporated entity in 1888 with O.P. Trahern as acting president. The Trahern Pump Company consisted of a Machine shop, Foundry, office building and warehouse. The foundry was state of the art, and produced Iron and Brass hand pumps.  In 1906 the company was sold to George D. Roper and, by 1919 Roper merged Trahern Pump into the George D. Roper Company.

Trahern pump newspaper article.jpg
Trahern iron pump.jpg
trahern pump company advertisement.jpg

Curbside Gas Pumps

Curbside gasoline pumps were the predecessor to today’s contemporary fuel pumps. Circa 1898 while working in a hardware store John Tokheim realized the dangers of above-ground gasoline containers, so he developed an external storage and pump system. Tokheim’s 1898 pump system used a customized water pump which allowed Tokheim to measure the amount of fuel dispensed. In 1901 Tokheim patented a new underground container system.  The system used underground holding tanks which allowed the storage and subsequent distribution of gasoline to the surface via a curbside or pony pump. It is considered the first vehicle fuel dispenser.

It is stated in an article from John. A. Jakel, “Journal of American Culture” fall 1978 issue, which the term “filling station” was given to the curbside pumps and underground storage tanks produced by the manufacturers of the time. The “stations” were placed near roadside curbs. Motorists would pull up the roadside pumps and mechanically fill their cars by cranking the curbside pumps handle. Curbside pumps could accurately measure the amount of gasoline dispersed by using gallon marker stops placed on the draw-bar of the pump in various positions. Meters were also installed on curbside pumps to measure the number of gallons of gasoline the pump dispersed.

The curbside pump was an enormous improvement on the way gasoline was dispensed. Before the advent of curbside pumps gasoline was pumped from storage barrels, then hand poured into the automobile from tins.  Jobbers would distribute gasoline from horse drawn tank wagons refilling the gasoline barrels kept in residential garages, commercial car storage garages and automobile repair garages. The curbside pump made filling your automobile more efficiently. The curbside pump also centralized the distribution of gasoline which reduced the danger of fire in communities. In 1920 fire safety ordinances required the closure of curbside stations in larger metropolitan cities. In 1923 the New York Supreme Court decision upheld a City of Buffalo N.Y., zoning ordinance which prohibited curbside stations, and also restricted locations of other types of gasoline stations.

The court’s decision forced Standard Oil of New York (Socony) to open it's own real estate company,  so it could buy up gasoline stations in Buffalo and anywhere else were cities had similar ordinances.At the time of the courts decision there was an estimated 700 gasoline stations opened in New York state and 600 of them were curbside stations. It was the beginning of the end for the curbside stations.  Although curbside pumps still went on to operate in general stores and in rural areas.


curbside model t.jpg

Early Bowser Curbside Gas Pump Model 241 Circa 1910 in Front of Hardware Store

G and B t88 curbside.jpg

Setting the Tab Gallon Stops on a Curbside Gas Pump

How the curbside gas pump works
pump workings.jpg

Portable Device for Vacuuming  Impurities fromUnderground Tanks J.J. Tokheim

tokheim patent.jpg

Patent blueprints for Tokheim's water siphoning pump 1927.  The pump was used to extract water from the gasoline that was stored in underground private garages

tokheim model 4 circa 1901.jpg

Terminology from Tokheim Patent (Verbatim)


Feb. 9, 1932. 1,844,614


I Filed Dec. 30. 1927 2 Sheets-Sheet l Zlwwmtoz JJTahiwim,


Filed Dec. 30, 1927 Z'Sheets-Sheet 2 gww ntoz v]: J IZk/heim,

W/TNEssEs slimy mass that floats on the water.


This invention relates to an accessory'or device for use in connection with liquid storage tanks and the like, and more particularly to a portable apparatus for removing water and other foreign matter from gasoline tanks or containers.

As gasoline and. oil are pumped from a storage tank or container, the air which makes its way into the tank through the vent openings is laden with dust and moisture which condenses into water in the container and settles at the bottom thereof. When insects, such as flies and the like are drawn in with the air they settle on the water line and undergo fermentation which producesO a bviously when the gasoline is pumped from the storage tank, the slimy mass follows the gasoline, and when it is served to customers causes endless carbureter trouble. Heretofore, there has been no device on the market that could readily and conveniently separate and remove water and foreign matter from the gasoline in storage tanks, and, therefore, it is the object of the present invention to provide a construction which may be embodied, in a conveniently portable form, thereby increasing the range of utility of the device and enabling it to service a plurality of tanks of aparticular installation.

A further object of the invention is to provide a. device possessing novel structural features and characteristics which make the device easy to manufacture, assemble, and

3 also easy to maintain in proper working condition with facility. 7

lVith the above and other objects in view which will more readily appear as the nature of the invention is better understood, the same consists in the novel construction, combination and arrangement of parts hereinafter more fully described, illustrated and claimed.

A preferred and practical embodiment of the invention is shown in the accompanying drawings, in which Figure 1 is a View illustrating the application of the invention.

Patent blueprints for Tokheim's 1901

Model 4. Long distance private garage

storage outfit

Private Garage Gas Pump & Curbside Pump Ads

American oil curbside gas pump advert
American oil curbside gas pump advert

American oil vintage curbside gas pump advertisement

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Chevrolet curbside gas pump advert
Chevrolet curbside gas pump advert

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1913 Wayne street pump literature
1913 Wayne street pump literature

Installation directions of a 1913 Wayne underground street pump.

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American oil curbside gas pump advert
American oil curbside gas pump advert

American oil vintage curbside gas pump advertisement

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Enter The Visible Gas Pump

Article written by K.J. Zeoli

wayne roman column.jpg

Wayne 490 Roman Column Pump

fry mae west visible gas pump for webpag

The visible gas pump revolution began in early 1920’s. By this time lawmakers started to notice curbside pumps where the primary cause of traffic jams. This allowed cities to develop bylaws banning the use of curbside pumps. Some of the stipulations of the bylaws were curbside pumps needed to be equipped with underground storage tanks located on private property rather than city property. Gasoline resellers were also required to put up large amounts of collateral bond funds, in case of explosion or fires caused by the pumps. Resellers were also required to pay a yearly selling fee to the city’s coffers. Finally, in 1923 the Supreme Court of New York decided in favor of banning curbside pumps ended a decade of curbside pumping.

Scrutiny from the public, on the quality and amount of gasoline being dispensed into their expensive and new automobiles, caused gas pump manufacturers to rethink the pre-visible curbside pump. Customers wanted to see not only the color, of the gasoline, but also wanted to make sure there were no impurities being pumped into their new automobiles gas tanks.

Gas pump manufacturers initially addressed the customers concerns by offering a kit, which allowed curbside pumps to be retrofitted with a five or ten gallon clear etched glass cylinder. The cylinder allowed the customers to view the quality of the gasoline as well as the quantity of gas being dispensed.

By 1923 companies started to manufacture new pumps with the cylinders attached directly to them. The visible gas pump used an underground storage tank to draw the gasoline from. The customer or pump attendant would crank a rotating motor, causing a vacuum which drew up the gasoline from the underground tank and into the expanded metal mesh covered glass cylinder. Once the preferred quantity of gas was pumped up and into the cylinder, a switch lever labeled “car” or “tank” was slid to the desired side which allowed the fuel to flow to the pumps cylinder, or through a hose to the cars gas tank.

As the roaring twenties rolled on, Gasoline refiners and pump manufacturers faced fierce competition due to the cast of players at the time. Service stations had changed also; they were no longer a dilapidated tiny shack, no longer located at the rear of the boulevard. Pump manufacturing companies were forced to offer more elaborate and complex gas pumps to keep up with the evolution of more stylish and elaborate service stations as well as savvier public.

A good example of the more elaborate pumps of that time was the Wayne model 490. The Wayne model 490 was a totally redesigned visible gas pump which was a cross between Roman and ancient Greek column designs. The Fry Pump Company also improved their game offering the Fry Visible Pump, Model 17, which was manufactured by Guarantee Liquid Measurement Company of Rochester PA.

bowser c3 with visible attachment.jpg

Fry Mae West Pump

Visible gas pumps

Clearvision selector switch
Clearvision selector switch

Clearvision selector switch

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Gas Pump Timeline
Gas Pump Timeline

Gas Pump Timeline

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Wayne Model 490 Roman Column
Wayne Model 490 Roman Column

Wayne Roman Column model 490 circa 1923

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Clearvision selector switch
Clearvision selector switch

Clearvision selector switch

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Visible gas pump diagram showing internal parts

visible pump design.jpg

The Start of the  Coin-Operated Liquid Dispenser


It is sated that Hero Ctesibius invented the first known vending machine in 219 B.C. It was a fluid distribution

system that used the Greek currency of the times the drachma which is derived from the verb δράσσομαι

(drássomai, (grasp).It is believed that the same word with the meaning of "handful" or "handle" is found in

Linear B tablets of the Mycenean Pylos as well.  Initially a drachma was a fistful (a grasp) of six oboloí or obeloí

(metal sticks), used as a form of currency as early as 1100 BC and being a form of "bullion": bronze,

copper, or iron ingots denominated by weight.

Although the original text for the first vending machine has been lost, a Latin manuscript dating to 1587 has

survived and is held in the National Central Library in Rome. According to this manuscript, the coin-operated

device was used to sell “sacrificial water” at a temple in Egypt, around, 250 BCE. When a five-drachma coin

was placed in the slot on top, the weight of the coin would lower the receptacle underneath, causing a lever to

open the lid covering the spout, thus allowing water to pour out until the

receptacle returned to its original position.

The first U.S. patent for a coin operated liquid dispensing apparatus was granted to W.H. Fruen

in 1884,patent #309,219.  A 50 cent piece was inserted into the pumps slot, you would then

turn a crank, and the liquid would start to flow. A visible gauge would let the consumer know

if the machine was empty. The pump was so advanced, if a customer dropped a coin into an

empty pump by mistake, the pump would return the coin after the first crank of the pump.

In 1913 Popular Mechanics ran an advertisement in their October 18, 1913, Volume 109 No

16 pp 297-312, titled “The Gasoline Slot Machine”, touted as one of the first consumer friendly

slot gas machines of the era. The article advertised a gasoline slot machine that would

undoubtedly be popular with both dealers and motorists alike. The article boasted that

the pump did not require a gas attendant, all you needed to do was to drive up to the

pump, place the hose in the cars gas tank, insert a half dollar coin into the coin slot and

turn the crank to start the fuel dispensing process.  The pump was equipped with a

graduated gauge located at the front of the pump, so the motorist would be assured they

were getting the correct amount of gasoline for their money.  The pump was also adjustable

so that it could be calibrated to the fuel prices of the day.


         The “Starkey” Coin Operated Gas Pump

The Starkey Oil and Gas Company, was located in FORT COLLINS, COLORADO, Larimer

County. One of the better known manufacturers, and highly collectable coin operated pumps

is the “Starkey”. The L.P. Starkey Pump Co produced a limited model number of 2 visible coin

operated pumps between 1925 and 1926. Circa 1915 Lewis P Starkey and his wife Rose

Elizabeth, moved to Fort Collins. Starkey stated in a 1973 newspaper article from the Fort

Collins Coloradoan that he and his wife came to Fort Collins “to lose more money than most

people make in a lifetime” while pursuing his hobby of inventing.  Starkey’s first patent was the

“coin in the slot” gasoline pump. Starkey ended up selling his pump to the Gas-O-Mate Inc,

of Denver, a company that is now long defunct. Starkey’s pump was touted as being

“Simpler to operate than the dial telephone”. Unfortunately, Starkey allowed his patent to

expire on one of the key components in his pumps.  The component was called the

“silent mercury switch”, which went on to used by thousands in the construction business.

Starkey’s switch was originally invented to prevent sparks in the electrical circuits of his gas

pumps to avoid explosions. Starkey and his wife ran a service station in Fort Collins.

Starkey was constantly being awakened during the night by tourists who wanted gasoline.

His wife actually came up  with the idea of Starkey making a gas pump that would dispense

gas without Starkey having to get out of bed and service the tourist. This gave Starkey the

idea for the coin operated pump.



SELF-OPERATING Application filed October 21, 1920, Serial An additional object is to provide

means associated with the check or -coin guide for coacting with the check to complete an electrical circuit whereby the feeding mechanism may be energized to feed the required amount of liquid or gasoline to be withdrawn; the release of the check and the stop; ping of the mechanism being automatically accomplish An additional object is to provide a vending machine having means provided for automatically closing the coin slot and preventing the insertion there through when the liquid supply has been exhausted or diminished to a material degree, thereby preventing the insertion of checks or coins through the slot and preventing the internal mechanism from being set in motion unnecessarily and without producing the required amount of liquid.

An additional object is to provide in proved means for preventing the operation of the mechanism through the insertion of slugs, or spurious coins, particularly those having a central opening, such as washers or the like; the means provided being such as tends to spear the washers or other perforated coin when inserted in the coin guide whereby they are all removed from the coin guide and collected for subsequent removal. With the above and other objects in view, the invention may be said to reside generally in the details 0. Construction, combination and arrangement of parts as will be hereinafter more fully pointed out, reference being had to the accompanying drawings wherein Figure 1 is a side elevation partly in section of a vending machine constructed in accordance with the principles of the invention. Figure 2 is an end or front view thereof partly in section facing toward the coin slot. Figure 3 is an enlarged view of the contact box carried by the supply tank.

A 1915 article from the National Petroleum News Magazine " Gasoline Slot Machines Could Be to Easily Cheated" stated that "automatic gasoline

vending outfits to supply the automobile trade , working on the same principle as the familiar

gum and candy slot machines, have been tried out, but can hardly be expected to prove

successful in operation, according to pump manufacturers who have experimented with them

or gone  into detail into the question of their practicality".

The article also went on to say that a Midwestern U.S. City returned $2 in real currency, but amassed  $37 dollars in lead slugs, buttons and counterfeit coins as it dispensed it's first 500 gallons of gasoline. The article also went on state that coin op pump manufactures could not design a coin operated gas pump that would not accept slugs or counterfeit coins. B. F. Geyer a sales manager with the Wayne Oil Tank & Pump Co, stated " I doubt very much if any one will ever be able to perfect a slot machine for retailing gasoline that will be a success. There are many different types of penny slot machines on the market, but i know of none that cannot be operated by slugs". Another problem with the coin op gas pumps was the difficulty they would face when price changes came into effect,. the pump would require an experienced mechanic or technician to modify and make changes to the pumps mechanism. In the article a pump manufacturer suggested the "coin op" or "slot machine",  gas pump could be designed to accept a specially grooved token that would be sold at the retailers service station. The problem with the idea was that the different mechanisms sold to different retailers would all have varying groove mechanisms. One gas retailer could be selling tokens which could be used in another dealers machines to market another brand of gasoline.

First coin operated system.jpg
W.H. Fruen, 1884 patent for liquid dispe

W.H. Fruen, 1884 patent for

liquid dispensing machine

First Coin -op Liquid


L P Starkey coin op gas pump aptent.jpg



NW. 29, R92? wswgz L. P. STARKEY SELF OPERATING FILLING STATION Original Filed Oct. 21,- 1920 5 Sheets-Sheet 1 "'TATTORNEY.

L. P. STARKEY SELF OPERATING FILLING STATION 5 Sheets-Sheet 2 Original Filed Oct. 21, 1920 INVENTOR. 51405 SfAf/ffy W/TMQSSfS ATTORNEY.

Nov. 28, M27,


1920 5 Sheets-Sheet 3 w 147 5 pg y y INVEN TOR.


Nov. 29, 192?. 1,650,882

| P. STARKEY SELF OPERATING FILLING STATION Original Filed Oct. 21, 1920 5 Sheets-Sheet 4 MW BY ATTORNEY;

Patented Nov. 29, 1927..

new STATES PATENT ounce.


U.S. Patent Application for L . P . Starkey Self Operating Filling Station

starkey patent 1927 coin operated filing

L.P. Starkey's first patent for a coin

op pump dated March 28th 1933

popular mechanics coin op gas pump.jpg

A 1913 Popular Mechanics advertisement that ran in the October 18, 1913, Volume 109 No 16 pp 297-312, titled “The Gasoline Slot Machine”,

Starkey coin operated gas pump.jpg

L.P. Starkey's first coin operated gas pump

Correct Measure “Pipe Organ” gas pump

The Correct Measure model 10 circa 1925 also known as the “pipe organ” pumps.

The Correct Model 10 got its nickname from the configuration of the pumps marker tubes.

The tubes were place inside the visible 10 gallon cylinder so the customer could see that

the correct amount of gas was being dispensed.

Below 10 gallon pipe configuration and gallon selector handle

Correct Measure "Pipe Organ" Models

  • Models 5-H 1925 hand operated five gallon capacity

  • Model 5-H 1925 Hand operated and electric operated five gallon capacity

  • Model 5-E 1925 entirely electrically operated

  • Model 10-H 1925 Hand operated ten gallon capacity

  • Model 10-H 2nd version of the H model. The pumps differences are the lighting assemblies.

Below pictured are the two versions of light bars for the Correct Measure

pipe organ correct measure pipe picture.
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Pipe configuration of 10 gallon Correct Measure Pump

The Correct Measure Model 10; got its nickname from the configuration of the pumps marker tubes. The tubes were placed inside the visible 10 gallon cylinder so the customer could see that the correct amount of gas was being dispensed. VISIBLE NUMERALS where set at three locations within the glass bowl, and where easily seen from any vantage point. AUTOMATIC INDICATORS were set at their specific intervals around the cone point “to car” or: to storage”. The SIGHT GLASS would show the gasoline flowing out through the hose. The gasoline would come to a stop at the level of the marker which was set by the customer or attendant. It was not possible to take any gasoline back into storage when the MEASUREING HANDLE is set to deliver the specific quantity to a customer.


10 gallon Correct Measure pump indicator handle and marker numbers. The pump could be set from 1-10 gallons. Depending on the customers need

TOP DOWN MEASURING was a term that left any extra gasoline to be sold, in the glass bowl ready for immediate delivery –no waiting – no delay for the next customer. It was Correct measure’s slogan that “THERE is the attendant’s standing opportunity to sell 30% more gasoline to his customer, as one usually calls for less gasoline than his tank will carry to avoid spillage. Yes, Top-down measuring increases gasoline sales.

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correct measure 5 gallon pipe organ gas

The Saga of JOY Gasoline

The JOY Gasoline Company was formed in Canada and incorporated in 1936, by Margaret Austin, the wife of Charles Austin, and founder of the Sunny Service Oil Company of Detroit Michigan. The Austin’s “JOY Gasoline”, marketing ploy played off the 1907 gasoline market, which tripled from 7₵ a gallon to an astounding 21₵ a gallon. To put into context, the average wage in 1907 was 22₵ per hour. The average worker made between $200 and $400 per year. The people felt as though they were “being had” by the service station / oil trusts of the times.

This is where the cleaver marketing of the JOY Gasoline Company comes into play. The JOY Gasoline Company began running ads to Toronto motorists that stated,  

“HI-HO! HI-HO JOY PROTECTS TORONTO”, JOY Gasoline Co would protect them from the “oil trust witches” who controlled gasoline prices throughout the city of Toronto.

The 16 Joy service stations that were built in Toronto were modeled after the French architectural designs of chateaus with a distinctive round tower and conical roof lines, which easily differentiated the stations from their competitors.

Joy Service Station Chateau Style Blueprints

Unfortunately, right from its inception, the Joy Gasoline Company came to loggerheads with Toronto city council. Joy Gasoline put in a request to council, to attain a permit to build storage tanks on the Toronto waterfront.  The request was subsequently turned down by the council. It was said that the big oil trust companies, influenced Toronto city council members to decline the Joy Gas Company’s application permit to erect storage tanks on the waterfront. Margaret Austin took the city of Toronto to court and sued the city, on the premise that larger gas companies had already erected storage tanks on the waterfront.  Austin eventually won the law suit and was given permission to build storage tanks in the Cherry Beach area of Toronto.  

Joy Gasoline was able to purchase premium grade gasoline from the Texas Oil Company, which was transported through ship to Canada via the Gulf of Mexico. It allowed the Joy Oil Company to sell their gasoline at 6 cents a gallon cheaper, at 146/8th cents, while their competitors sold at 20 cents a gallon.

No one can really identify why the Joy Gasoline Company eventually closed the doors in 1978 on its last gas station on Lakeshore Avenue West Toronto

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JOY Gasoline Gas Pump Manufacturing Co

If anyone has information on the JOY Manufacturing Gas Pump Co (see below), please email us and let us know if they where part of the JOY Oil & Gas Company.

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Joy Gasoline Stations Toronto Ontario Canada

Queen Street East near Pape
Queen Street East near Pape

Joy Service Station Queen Street East Near Pape

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Joy Service Station Date Unknown
Joy Service Station Date Unknown

Joy Gas Station Date Unknown

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Joy Gas Station Chateau Style
Joy Gas Station Chateau Style

Joy Gas Station Chateau Style with Typical Joy Gas Colors of White and Orange

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Queen Street East near Pape
Queen Street East near Pape

Joy Service Station Queen Street East Near Pape

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Vintage gas pumps are tangible links to the past, bringing collectors closer to a period of time that they may remember from their childhood. Vintage gas pumps offer an exceptional opportunity to learn about the historical periods from which they were produced. Good quality and craftsmanship associated with a vintage gas pump is now a lost art form, due to the introduction of mass-produced items, and companies’ bottom lines. Vintage gas pumps are unique to their particular time period. The Art Deco movement represented wealth, glamour, excitement, and a belief in societal and technological progress. Art Deco styling was a take-off of many different styles, occasionally incongruous, unified by a longing to be contemporary. The thirties saw a shift in the way items were manufactured. Society began to appreciate the finer tastes to more decorative and expensive items.

The “Roaring Twenties”, saw a great deal of world poverty, caused in part by the Wall Street stock market crash in the U.S. The “Great War”, which was primarily fought in Europe had just ended only a few years prior, and plunged much of Europe into poverty. People needed a change, and the thirties era ushered in a new hope and newly found prosperity to many.  The economy started to fire on all four cylinders in the thirties and the upper middle class started to spend their money on opulent and glamorous items that exuded wealth and prosperity. Quite simply, people where worn-out from being poor through the twenties, that they started to overcompensate, by spending money on sleek anti-traditional elegance, which symbolized wealth and sophistication.

 art deco Wayne 60 gas pump

The Art Deco Movement and how it shaped service stations and gas pumps

Written by K. Zeoli COPYRIGHTS APPLY

With a growing trend toward service station modernization, the Wayne Pump Company was able to position itself, as the leader within the gasoline pump industry. By 1937 they had a larger market share than other pump manufacturers of the time. Oil business publications and industry historians estimated that Wayne’s market share in 1937 approached 50%. It was the Art Deco styling of Wayne pumps in the thirties, particularly the Wayne model 60, being instrumental in carrying the Wayne Pump Company through the harsh depression years and into the next decades. Almost every pump company of the era followed suit producing their own versions of Art Deco gas pumps.

The Art Deco movement was originally adopted in Europe and saw service stations from around the world implement the styling for their businesses, hoping to draw in consumers. A great example of how this movement not only affected North American service stations, but stations worldwide is pictured below. It is known as the Fiat Tagliero Service Station, located in Asmara, Eritrea, Africa. It is still one of the most recognizable Art Deco styled service stations in the world.

Fiat Tagliero Service Station Asmara Afr
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One of the largest oil suppliers in North America during the thirties was the Texaco Corporation; they were also one of the first companies to implement Art Deco designs into their service stations.  At the time the Texaco Corp was not only one of the largest oil suppliers, but was also considered a marketing trendsetter. Texaco did this by implementing Art Deco designs into their service stations.

The Texaco Corp was able to capitalize on the oppressed economy of the day, by using Art Deco styling to make a bold statement within the North American market. Many North Americans at the time could not afford a car, let alone buy gasoline. Texaco had the foresight to use the Art Deco movement to its advantage over its competitors. They did this by not trying to capitalize on gasoline sales to the lower income earners of the day; Texaco’s intent on using Art Deco styling for their service stations was twofold.  First, Texaco wanted to demonstrate to the public that the future was looking brighter, but it also enticed those privileged customers who could, to spend their money, by coming in and buying gas at opulently styled service stations.

To implement the new Art Deco designs into their stations, in 1934, Texaco hired famed architect/designer, Walter Dorwin Teague. Teague designed a prototype station that was heavily influenced by Art Deco design.  The building’s design incorporated a typical Art Deco style flat roof, porcelain façade, large windows and linear lines that would give the potential customers a sense of modernism, speed, and efficiency. It would also standardize all of the Texaco service stations throughout the U.S.

Service stations of the era had recently transitioned from standalone gas stations, to full service stations, which incorporated not only the gas pumps, but working bays for auto repairs, sales counters and display cabinets, allowing oil companies another venue to sell their other products, such as oil, tires, grease etc.

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Keeping this in mind Teague developed a sleek and sophisticated oblong box building for Texaco, featuring smooth surfaces, bold colors, in high contrast to Texaco’s logo colors of the time. Teauge’s Texaco service station design became the benchmark for service station architecture in the thirties. Texaco built over 10,000 of Teague’s designed stations in the U.S. They would standardize all the Texaco service stations throughout the U.S., so much so that other oil companies such as Standard Oil and Shell quickly followed suit.

Early Art Deco service station cabinet

The standardization and the use of point of sale venues of service stations, was a major advancement in the oil and gas industries. It allowed companies the opportunity to not only sell fuel, but also to sell their products on every roadside in North America. Standardization in the service station industry was also a great marketing plan by building brand recognition. Drivers would be able to recognize a Texaco, Shell etc, service station no matter what state they traveled through

 The Art Deco movement also corresponded to the industrial movement of the thirties, and service stations also followed form with functionality. The two architectural movements were responsible in part, for allowing service stations to morph into the enormous oil conglomerates of today. The two movement’s philosophies and designs was to take into consideration the overall shape, appeal, attention to things such as color, textures, product etc.


 Art Deco service station oil can rack

Each Art Deco inspired Texaco service stations featured two bays. One of the bays was used for a mechanic to perform work on motorist’s cars, while the other bay was used to wash and detail automobiles. There were also two separate washrooms, one for men and one for women. The washrooms were typically situated near the outside wall of the service station, closest to the office and front reception counter.


 Art Deco ziggurats oil can

Not every oil company used Teagues oblong box style of architecture for their service stations. Some Art Deco inspired stations incorporated many curvilinear corners, embellished with hard-edged, low-relief designs; mathematical geometric shapes, which included chevrons, reflective chrome and porcelain accents. The chrome and porcelain accents, allowed the buildings to be seen in the reflective sun of the daylight, as well as the reflective moon at nighttime.

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Vintage Art Deco service station oil can

Not only did the oil companies incorporate Art Deco styling into their service stations and gas pumps, it was also popular for oil companies to manufacture other items within their product lines in Art Deco inspired styling. The oil companies integrated Art Deco styling into their Petroliana products such as:

· Oil cans

· Oil racks

· Signage

·Engine and headlight analyzers

·Metal garage cabinets

·Air meters



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I am sure I am leaving out many of the other items in my above list, but one thing is for sure, nineteen-thirty Art Deco styling has arguably produced some of the finest petroliana items.

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