Chevron Gas Posters, ca. 1956

Value (2013) | $5,400 Auction$8,100 Auction
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GUEST:
I picked these up two or three months ago. I was standing in line at an estate sale and I was talking to a fellow about an upcoming auto swap meet, and he indicated that he had quite a bit of memorabilia, and I said, "Well, that's great, I'd love to talk to you about it," and within four to six weeks, I ended up buying it all.

APPRAISER:
And how much did you pay?

GUEST:
Well, we valued them varying on size and what they looked like. The better ones were at $75, $80, right in there, and then $25 or so on the ones that weren't as interesting.

APPRAISER:
Which of them is your favorite one?

GUEST:
In this particular grouping here, I probably really like the gold one because it's got the rocket ship and it's exciting to me.

APPRAISER:
It's printed with gold ink, and that's a very sophisticated printing technique.

GUEST:
Yeah, that one just stood out to me because of that gold ink. I really liked it. I like them all. I acquired actually more than just what's here and I brought some of my favorites.

APPRAISER:
Well, we know that these are posters that were printed to be hung in Chevron stations, and we also know on all of them what their dates are, as they're all dated. In the bottom margin in small print, you can see they range in date from 1954 to 1958. Most of these were sent to the gas stations, hung up and then discarded, but somehow the ones that you got were sent to the gas station and most likely never taken out of their mailing envelopes, and they've remained folded up for the last 55-plus years, which is why the colors are so incredibly vibrant. Now, really what these are is called petroliana. People who collect gasoline memorabilia love these kind of things. I'd like to approach it from a different point of view: the point of view of the poster collecting market, which is a market that I'm very familiar with. When I look at these images, what I see along the top line are three bold and powerful mid-century modern design images that border on atomic-era design. We have a rocket ship, we've got an airplane soaring, and then we've got a sort of abstract half-wing of an airplane next to you. They're really incredible, bold images, and the bright orange text was really used to catch the eye of motorists as they drove by. On the bottom, we have something slightly different. In the middle, we have an advertisement for the free gliders that Chevron would give away every time you filled your tank up. Remember when gas stations used to give away free stuff? In my opinion, at auction, conservatively, I feel that the three across the top, which are really my favorites, I would estimate each one between $1,000 and $1,500 for each.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
And the three across the bottom, which are good, which are rare, but aren't as powerful images, I would say each one of these I would estimate between $800 and $1,200 for those three.

GUEST:
Amazing.

APPRAISER:
Now, I wasn't able to find any comparables, but after handling posters for so many years and talking with my colleagues, we all agree that images like this that are so powerful should have that price. Really super.

APPRAISER:
Thank you for bringing them in.

GUEST:
That's fabulous, thanks.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Swann Auction Galleries
New York, NY
Appraised value (2013)
$5,400 Auction$8,100 Auction
Event
Boise, ID (June 29, 2013)
Period
19th Century
Form
Poster
Material
Paper, Steel

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