Petroliana – On Location

by Alan Chandler

Within the world of enthusiasts for petroleum collectables and garage-related automobilia and ephemera the name of Alan Chandler has, in recent years, come to the fore. Though his own very extensive collection is not on public view, the entire contents is available for all to see on his website. He has now written his third, and possibly his best, book. It’s mainly a color picture book with over 1800 illustrations but this time there is a greater historical narrative than before. What makes this book so useful is that each section is divided into the individual brands or makes so you can follow each firm’s developments in such things as pumps, globes, cans, enamels, posters, ephemera, and other products from their earliest days until 1939, which is the general cut-off for the book.

The first section is about petrol distribution and is probably the most interesting. It has a number of good b/w period pictures to back up the words. The next section is on the petrol brands, with Shell and BP to the fore but there are illustrations for lesser brands such as Aero/Albion, Ross, Bluebird, and Scotch (“made in Scotland from Scottish shale”) to name just a few,

Oil brands from companies that did not sell petrol are listed including a number of illustrations of the now politically incorrect Speedwell, as well as Wellsaline Anglo Bospjhorus Motor Oils, Sternol, and of course Price’s who started as candle makers and whose oil business was later taken over by BP. One of the best-lettered enamels of all is for Record Motor Oils from Sheffield.

The advertising for tire manufacturers is well covered as are sparking plugs and associated products which include insurance companies, garage equipment and even petroleum-branded toys.

There is a very good Index and a most helpful piece on restoration of petrol pumps. This self-published book is of very high quality but I would have liked to have seen more of the written history. I think if a sub-editor had been employed he might have removed some of the exclamation marks!

Highly recommended if you have any sort of interest in this extensive and ever growing part of the motoring hobby—it is also very good value for money.


Copyright 2013, Michael E. Ware (

Petroliana – On Location
by Alan Chandler
Self-published, 2012
224 pages, 1800+ b/w & color illustrations, hardcover
List Price: $56/£35


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