This is an original Shell petrol pump, it was made in the United States around the year 1950 with the actual internal mechanism and pumping system made by the Bennett Pump Division, a leading gas pump manufacturer at the time.
The first fuel pump was invented by the curiously named Sylvanus Bowser in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in September of 1885. Interestingly the fuel pump predated the automobile industry – the pumps were first used for dispensing kerosene that was used in lamps and stoves.
The surname of the inventor, Bowser, was used extensively to describe the upright gasoline pumps that were developed to deliver fuel directly into car fuel tanks. It’s used less frequently in the USA now, but in Australia and New Zealand it remains in the regular daily vernacular.
By the early 20th century the different gasoline companies in the United States, Europe, and further afield were developing their own branded gas pump designs. These designs could vary wildly and they became an art form unto themselves by mid-century.
Today these original gas pumps are highly collectible, both by gas pump enthusiasts (of which there are surprisingly many), and by regular classic car enthusiasts who might want one or two illuminated vintage gas pumps in their garage for display purposes.
The Shell petrol pump you see here has been fully restored and it’s now finished in its original colors of red and yellow. It has the classic glass “Shell” above the main pump which is illuminated with a standard bulb.
The pump can be plugged into a standard 220 volt electric outlet which powers the illuminated shell on top and the other lights and systems. The base, angles, and dome are all made from cast iron, while the sides are made from lacquered sheet steel.
The unit measures in at 200 cm x 80 cm x 45 cm and it’s now due to cross the auction block with Bonhams on the 8th of October with a price guide of €4,500 – €7,000 which works out to approximately $4,800 – $7,500 USD. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Bonhams
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