vintage gas pump globes—also known as “pump toppers”—are the crown jewel of petroliana collectors. These lighted globes sat atop antique gas pumps, poles, air meters, and more to advertise the station’s brand of gasoline or oil and often took the shape of the company logo or other icons such as Shell’s clamshell. They were used during the time when highway culture was in its heyday and they still serve as reminders of that era.
The value of a vintage gas pump globe depends on its condition, rarity and desirability. One-piece globes tend to be the most desirable, with figural shapes like crowns and clamshells also drawing collectors’ attention. Shapes vary from simple to elaborate, and the color of a globe is important as well—green ripple colors typically fetch higher prices than other options.
A Collector’s Guide: Finding the Best Vintage Gas Pump Globes
Aside from color, size plays a role in determining value. The most common and easiest to find are the 13-inch lenses set into either a milk glass or plastic Capco body; the rarer 15-inch globes are incredibly sought after. Lastly, the age of a gas globe is important—the older and more original it is, the more valuable it will be.
For the most part, the world of vintage gas pump globes is a closed one—there are no global collector’s societies or online communities to connect with, but if you do have an interest in this particular category of collectibles, it’s worth seeking out the information and resources available to help you get started. You’ll find many helpful books and websites that provide detailed photographs, a rarity scale and pricing guides to help you identify the right globe for your collection.