Oil Can Lights…..Talk about hard to find!

There are many sub-categories of petroliana collectibles.

I’ve managed to find one of the more obscure categories to collect……Oil can lights.

They consist of a thin plastic cylinder that’s painted to look like an oil can. Most are “motion lights” where the heat from the bulb rises through louvers in the top causing the outer cylinder to spin. Collecting these lights has been a challenge. It’s not that they are terribly expensive. They’re just difficult to find. I doubt that many survived because they are so fragile.
My wife bought this Mobiloil motion light at an auction over twenty years ago.

Mobiloil motion light

This Sinclair light is the only stationary oil can light I have. This light uses paint can lids for the top and bottom.

Stationary oil can light. Circa 1950's

Stationary oil can light. Circa 1950’s

This Kendall Superb motion light is a recent acquisition and among my favorites.

Early 1950's motion light

Early 1950’s motion light

I’ve searched auction listings, and swap meets for over 20 years and I’ve only managed to collect six oil can lights!

You can see them in the Miscellaneous Petroliana Gallery. There are others out there somewhere. I know Conoco had one or two that looked like their oil cans from the 50’s. I suspect there’s a motion light version of my stationary Sinclair light, and Pennzoil used both stationary and motion lights. There are stationary and motion oil filter lights as well. I don’t have any of those…..yet.

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