Vintage Original Gilmore Gasoline Masonite Sign
April 24, 2015
Very excited to have acquired this rare sign. In its original condition, this circa early 1940’s Gilmore Gasoline service station sign is a great example of early West Coast service station history. This exterior advertising sign would have hung outside of a Gilmore station and were made from Masonite, which in addition to being used as advertising signs such as billboards and point-of-sale signs, it was also used for many other applications including doors, roofing, walls, desktops, and canoes. It was sometimes even used as house siding.
Although clearly not as durable as tin or porcelain advertising signs, Masonite was used during wartime as a result of rationing that the US Government found necessary in order to save metal to build tanks, ships, planes, and weapons, which required massive amounts of metal. A single tank needed 18 tons of metal, and one of the navy’s biggest ships took 900 tons. Anything using metal — from chicken wire to farm equipment — was rationed. Americans were urged to turn in scrap metal for recycling, and schools and community groups across the country held scrap metal drives. As a result of the rations, metal advertising signs were very limited in their production during the war and because scrap metal was being recycled, many metal advertising signs were scrapped.
Because Masonite was susceptible to the effects of weathering, the graphics on many of these signs were lost and very few of them lasted the test of time. Furthermore, when Gilmore was purchased by Mobil, most of the Gilmore advertisements were no longer needed and were tossed away. It is amazing that this sign still exists today, some 75 years later.
This particular sign has fantastic, colorful graphics, that were made by Vitachrome of Los Angeles, where it is known today as the oldest screen printer on the West Coast.
The Gilmore company name is a familiar to people who call Los Angles home for founding the Farmers Market, which to this day is a central meeting place for Angelenos – “Meet me at 3rd and Fairfax” is still one of the most common phrases in the city. It also remains a must-see tourist attraction in Southern California.
All of this collectively together make this very rare, beautiful piece of early American advertising truly a one-of-a-kind item.
Size is 60.5”-long x 26”-tall
This item has sold to a VAULT customer in Carmel, Indiana.