Feb 2015 12

Sign History: Mobil

“Mommy, daddy can we stop by the flying horse?”

Undoubtedly, children throughout history have grown attached to the recognizable logo of Mobil gas stations. While you don’t see the flying horse so much anymore, Peggy the Pegasus (as she is named) marked the Standard Oil expansion for a long period of American and international history.

Like many of the businesses we have grown attached to for their branding, Mobil is not alone in having a long and telling sign history.


Introducing America to Gargoyle

No, I’m not talking about the Smurf’s enemy. Gargoyle is the first marketed product of Vacuum Oil, a company founded in 1866. Gargoyle 600-W Steam Cylinder Oil was patented in 1869 for use in Steam engines. It’s still in use today!

The flying red horse for which Mobil was known actually pre-dates the brand by a few years, first appearing on the scene as a white-winged horse in 1911. Ironically, this was the same year that New Jersey’s Standard Oil Co. was broken up into 33 smaller companies by an antitrust lawsuit.

One of the divisions, Socony (short for Standard Oil Company Of New York), had already been using the MobilOil and Mobilgas monikers for their products by the time they merged with Vacuum oil in 1931.


Perfect Match

This merger turned out to be a marriage made in Heaven. The Socony brand brought the Mobil name to their products, while Vacuum Oil carried over their iconic winged horse (now red in line with the Socony brand colors).

From 1931 to 1955, the winged horse could be seen on signs, floor mats, printed materials, name plates, oil cans and other branded merchandise for the Socony-Vacuum Motor Oil Company. It was in 1955 that the company changed it’s name to Socony Mobil Oil Company.

The trade name changed only eight years later from Mobilgas to simply Mobil. Along with this name change, Peggy the Pegasus (as she was named) changed direction from a leftward ascent 180 degrees to a rise to the right.

In celebration of their centennial anniversary in 1966, Socony was dropped from the official business name. Resulting in the Mobil Oil Company.

In recent years, a change in marketing trends has seen Peggy dropped from much of Mobil’s branding, replaced by simply the duo-tone typography.

She lives on in our hearts.



Mobil signs are highly collectible for a few reasons.

  • They are closely related to the automotive industry which is rife with collectors.
  • They are different from one another as the company has undergone important business changes and marketing graphics have evolved.
  • The pegasus is instantly recognizable as a Mobil creation.
  • They hit the peak of their prevalence in the 1950s – an era often romanticized for its nostalgia.

1900s – Gargoyle by Vacuum Oil Reproduction

Sign History - Mobil 1900
1900 – Vacuum Oil Gargoyle with Mobiloil Branding (reproduction)
Image Credit to auto-unique | eBay

1910 Vacuum Oils and Greases

Sign History - Mobil 1910
1910 – Vacuum Oil sign
Image Credit to armada-antiques | eBay

1915 Socony Motor Oil Pump Head

Sign History - Mobil 1915
1915 – Socony Motor Oil Pump Head
Image Credit to Gaspumps.Info

1920 – Pegasus Motor Spirit (Early Appearance of the Iconic Winged Horse)

Sign History - Mobil 1920
1920 – Pegasus Motor Spirit Sign – Antique
Image Credit to OldShopStuff

1930 – Socony/Vacuum MobilOil Sign

Sign History - Mobil 1930
1930 – Socony Vacuum Oil Company Mobiloil Sign
Image Credit to Marvin Odell | Pinterest

1950 – Mobiloil Sign

Sign History - Mobil 1950
1950 – Mobiloil’s revitalized winged horse logo on a pump head.
Image Credit to allaboutdaloot | eBay

1970 – Mobil Sign

Sign History - Mobil 1970
1970 – Mobil’s new sign with Peggy facing the opposite direction
Image Credit to Barrett Jackson Auctions

Today – A more typographic approach

Sign History - Mobil today
Today – Peggy has disappeared from much of Mobil
Image Credit to Wikimedia Commons

Your business could be the next one to make history with its signs. Design and order today!