The first gas pumps were built in the 1880s by the Bowser Company in Fort Wayne, Indiana, followed in 1898 by pumps that could drag fuel from an underground tank. As cars grew popular while soaring in the 1920s, service stations sprang up everywhere and the gas pump became a key promotional channel.
The early pumps were ‘visible gas’ pumps, with a clear glass cylinder, usually 5 or 10 gallons on top of the pump, so you could see what you were getting, or if the gas was dirty (a big problem at that time).
Next came the electric pump, but people still wanted to see the gas, so they had a small cylinder, called a sight glass. These pumps had a clock face that kept track of the gallons. Finally they came out with computing gas pumps, which would tell you the cost too.
Currently in demand are the computing pumps from the 1930’s into the 1950’s, but in the 1960’s they rationalized them, making them more boxy and plain. Pumps from the 1930’s in particular have a great amount of an art deco style (and are very tall).
Take a look at this YouTube video on some of the great antiques and collectibles in the showroom at Fast Lane Classic Cars in St. Charles, Missouri. They have a great selection of vintage gasoline pumps, vending machines, antique soda fountains.
For more information on Collectibles & Antique Coin-Operated Vending Machines contact Boca Trading Post.