Today we’re going to take a look at another collectible,Vintage Service Station Maps. From the 1950’s through the early 1970’s most gasoline stations in the United States often gave away promotional state and local maps. With the arrival of the first gas crisis in the mid-70’s and the appearance of self-service stations these maps went away. Today, the humble Service Station Map has become a popular collectible item for both map collectors and service station memorabilia collectors.
Guide Continued Below…
Let’s begin by looking at a little history of the Service Station Map. The first free road maps were handed out during the early days of motoring in the 1920’s and perhaps even earlier. Maps from this time period, between the World Wars, are particularly rare and often sport highly decorative designs. The Service Station Map became common after WWII and into the baby boom of the 1950’s. Gasoline companies such as Standard Oil, Sinclair, Gulf and others used these maps to promote their companies to the increasing number of people who were traveling by car around the US. In the late 1960’s the quality of these maps declined due to poor profit margins and heavy competition in the market. This was accelerated by the gas crisis of the the 1970’s. By 1980, the free Service Station Map had all but disappeared.
A Vintage Service Station Map by a merged or defunct oil company are prized by some. For example, Sinclair Oil and it’s famous dinosaur logo. These long gone companies offer collectors and nostalgia buffs a view into what is often seen as the more relaxed, even idyllic, world of the 50’s and 60’s. Some try to collect a full series of maps from a particular station. People also enjoy viewing these maps to see how things have changed in the past 50-60 years and their historical value.
As with many other vintage paper products, the Vintage Service Station Map is graded on it’s condition. Most of these maps will be in only poor to fair condition since they were often stored loose in the glove box of a car and have marks, creases, tears and other damage from use. Good ones may have some evident usage but have only minor damage or markings. Very good condition to near mint Service Station maps are a rare find since this would be a map that is only showing it’s age and very minimal usage. When you’re buying a Vintage Service Station Map you want to find out the basic grade as well as all of the specifics about any wear and damage.