Petroliana is the area of collecting items pertaining to the gas, oil, and petroleum industry. It’s normally associated with cars and automobilia, but collectors shouldn’t stop there. Lots of engines run on gasoline and are protected by oil. While petroleum products may not literally float your boat, gas and oil are just as important to the fans of boats and boating — unless you want to row-row-row your boat, or wait for the wind.
Here in the Upper Midwest, where there are lakes a-plenty, it’s not uncommon find personalized gas cans (for refueling outboard motors) and portable marine fuel tanks bearing the names of their owners on them. These gas tanks, along with such items as boat seat cushions and minnow buckets, might sit for a spell on the dock or at a boat landing while boat captain, crew, and passengers are busy loading (or unloading). Since many boats may use the same landing or dock simultaneously, it’s easy for items from one boat to be mistaken for items belonging to another. Labeling one’s boating equipment is just a practical thing to do to avoid cases of mistaken equipment identity. It is especially popular in Minnesota where Minnesota Nice prevails and good decent folks would rather die than mistakenly take another fellow’s gas can, even when empty.
In some cases, these personalized gas cans and other items wear their owners’ names not in a squeaky streak of black permanent marker but rather bear their owners’ names boldly — hand-painted in flourishes which bring to mind the custom lettering on a classic car or motorcycle. A case in point is this vintage metal six gallon Outboard Marine Company (OMC) Accessories Gasoline can, with gauge, which bears the name of its previous owner.
Hand-lettered in yellow paint, with a drop-shadow effect, the name “Gary Hasse” proudly leaps off the red paint, despite the age and use. No doubt it should, for Gary Hasse is a professional fisherman and founder of F-M Walleyes Unlimited.
Here’s where this vintage gas can becomes a cross-collectible, covering petroliana, boating, sporting or fishing, as well as local celebrity memorabilia.
Based on new EPA standards set in 2011, these vintage metal portable marine gas tanks are no longer allowed to be used, rendering them obsolete — or, in collectors terms, collectible. Old tanks, like this one, have vented caps to prevent pressure from building, however those vents allow gasoline to evaporate into the air so the EPA now requires all portable tanks to be sealed. This new law has sent many an old gas tank like this to the junk pile; just the sort of thing that limits availability and, at the same time, increases the desirability for collectors. Over the next few years, as less and less of these old portable boating gas tanks can be found, they will increase in value. And that’s not even taking into consideration the significance of the names, corporate and individual, upon them.
For those simply wishing to decorate a man cave or a lake home, you can’t get much more bang for you buck with an item like this. It sure beats a framed photograph or brochure on the wall.