Oil and Gas Related Radios
Submitted by Peter Capell
The 1960s and early 1970s marked the heyday of retail gasoline and oil marketing. Dealer and jobber margins were still respectable as opposed to today's reliance on ancillary items such as convenience store merchandise. Thus, promotional giveaways (some of which were featured in previous PCM issues) were last concentrated during this time frame. During this period, small, portable transistor radios, mostly AM although a few later had both AM and FM reception became popular and gas and oil marketers jumped on the bandwagon with both oil can and gas pump shaped models. The earliest portable radio dating from the early 1950s was used to introduce a new Standard Oil of Indiana brand of motor oil and was a larger than quart sized tin model.
However, the Hong Kong manufactured plastic versions were the most common ones used in the 60s and 70s. Some refiners/marketers promoted multiple brands of oil with the "oil can" radios as well as radios shaped as gasoline pumps including the more recent large modern models. These remain a modestly priced collectible for those on a budget or with restricted display space. Most operate on 9 volt batteries which should be removed for display to avoid deterioration over time. There are indeed other versions of the "oil can" radios representing beer and soda brands; however my focus as with other promotional collectibles is on petroleum related brands. As you can see, our petroliana hobby has many opportunities to focus on specific marketing tools beyond large and often costly signs and pump globes. More to come!