A Touch of Glass

Gas Pump Globe Basics
by Scott Benjamin, © 1997 Petroleum Collectibles Monthly

Ballcrank globe insert
Ballcrank Mobilgas Special globe. Notice the screws at 12, 4 and 8 o'clock. There are also notches at 3 and 9 o'clock.

Wide body globe
Typical wide glass body, used from approximately 1928 until the early 1970s.

Narrow body globe
Typical narrow glass body, with the optional copper screw-on base

Hull body1
Hull body with one insert removed, complete with optional copper crimped-on base.

Hull body 2
Early Sinclair Ethyl Hull body with optional crimped-on copper base.

Gill body
Typical Gill body with inserts removed.

Narrow body with recess
Narrow glass body, of the type specifically used by Sinclair and Richfield (NY). Notice the recessed inner edge.

In the process of creating a new globe book we decided to go into more detail about body styles and which companies used what. Here are some extractions from the new book:

Though we do not know what every company used in terms of a particular body style, we have learned what many companies did use. If we know a particular company used only narrow glass bodies for their globes, then the listing in the new book will say something like "NG" for narrow glass or "WG" for wide glass. There will be many other codes.

Pictured here are several different body styles of glass globes. Most inserts for these glass bodies measure 13 1/2." Some were a bit smaller and some a bit larger. There are many companies that used only the wide glass body. Sohio was one of these companies. There are no exceptions here. Any Sohio insert on a narrow body is incorrect. Is that a big deal? It is to me - looks like a purple Model T to me. It just doesn't look right. Price-wise and display-wise is doesn't actually matter.

Sinclair was a company that used only narrow glass bodies. Early Sinclairs on glass often came on a Hull body. A Hull body looks similar to a Gill body, in that when the inserts are removed, you can see right through the globe. The exception is that a Hull body holds inserts just like a regular glass body, which has holes at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock.

Gill bodies have a thin metal band that holds a notchless insert to the glass body. So regular inserts for glass have notches at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock to fit into a Hull or regular glass body. Gill inserts have no notches. Some companies used only Gill bodies and other companies may have used nearly all the different body styles. I've told people for years that Sinclair never used a Gill body globe. Well, I just found one, so there goes that theory. Kanotex used a lot of Gill bodies and rarely used regular glass bodies.

Hull body globes mainly appeared in the 1930s and then seemed to disappear. Several companies used the Hull bodies. Rarer body styles for 13 1/2" inserts would include banded glass bodies.

Ballcrank bodies are extremely rare. Ballcrank lenses have corresponding holes which are found at 12 o'clock, 4 o'clock and 8 o'clock. These were used as early as 1928 and appear to be the oldest known glass bodies. Marland, Mobil, Caldwell and Taylor, Skelly and a few other companies were known to use Ballcrank bodies. So, if you find a lense notched at 12, 4 and 8 o'clock, it can only fit into a Ballcrank body. The strangest lenses I've seen are notched in five places! Notched not only for Ballcrank bodies, these rare inserts were also notched for a standard glass body, which was 3 and 9 o'clock. Pictured here is a Mobil insert mounted to a Ballcrank body that also has the regular notches - for a total of five notches.

Banded glass bodies are named so due to the lack of a better term. The other styles carry their company names: Gill Glass Co., Hull Glass Co., etc. We don't know where the banded glass globes came from. These globe bodies hold inserts with no notches, like Gill inserts. The inserts fit inside the glass body and a metal band holds the insert in place. The metal band is held into the glass from the inside by four small screws which can be tightened up or loosened to remove the lens. Not many companies used these special bodies but Pyroil, Wolf's Head, Empire, D-X and Hall Brothers were a few that did. Pyroil used a 14" banded insert and a larger body as well, which is very unique.

Kanotex and Pennzoil used the rare 15" glass body. When most people see this body, they don't recognize it. It has solid flat sides, quite large and has two small metal bands that hold the inserts to it. Often I see these at auction, missing the metal bands and people are not sure what they are. These bodies are useless without the bands that hold the inserts. Kanotex inserts can be taken off of these and put into a 15" metal body with no problem. We are not sure who made these special bodies, so we call them 15" glass bodies. Thirteen and a half inch bodies identical to these exist, but only a couple are known. These globes are extremely rare and will bring $550 to $800 because of their uniqueness.

Ninety-eight percent of all glass bodies mentioned above have the standard six inch base. I have seen a few glass bodies with seven inch bases, which were often used on pumps for the Standard Oil Company.

I have seen at least a dozen or more other different types of glass bodies made by numerous glass companies. Many are unique in appearance. With the exception of banded glass bodies, all of the above body styles could have come with or without a metal screw on the base. These are scarcer and more desired by collectors. They could be older, but I can't prove that. Pictured in this article is a very rare Hull body with a pressed-on copper base. It cannot be removed without breaking the glass. How they got it onto the glass base without breaking the glass is something I'd love to see.

Oval glass bodies, clover-shaped bodies, clover Hull bodies, shoe box and large Gill bodies are among the many other types of glass bodies one may run into when collecting globes.

By the way, Phillips shield-shaped globes are all plastic, with plastic inserts, never glass.

Please remember when you ship any glass globe with glass inserts, the inserts must be removed. The only exception is when a globe has the inserts caulked in. Inserts vibrate during shipping no matter how they are wrapped. Glass vibrating on glass breaks. I hear about it often. I've had to tell some auction houses the proper shipping methods for gasoline globes. Do not assume anyone knows how to ship a globe, because, honestly, I've seen very few people do it right. Anything less than double boxing and an absolute minimum box size of 20"x20"x20" for the outside box is asking for trouble. Go over in detail the shipping instructions with anyone shipping a globe to you and make sure they understand it. Dozens of globes break each year in shipments and that can be avoided. In other articles I'll cover Capco globes, metal globes and one-piece globes.

Check the Primarily Petroliana Book Store for availability of the book mentioned here.

Images and text copyright © 1997, Petroleum Collectibles Monthly
Used with permission.

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Jim Potts

Online Jan. 22, 1998