History of the Anglo-American Oil Co Ltd
The ANGLO - AMERICAN OIL CO LTD was formed in 1888 and its main business was the shipment of lamp oil branded as "Royal Daylight" from America to the United Kingdom. The company was a British affiliate of the
The first product the Anglo-American Oil Co Ltd shipped into Great Britain was Royal Daylight Lamp Oil and this sign dating to the late 1800's depicts the method of delivery to retailers.
Standard Oil Trust which had been set up and run by John D Rockefeller in the USA. The UK head office was situated at Bishopsgate, London and a storage facility was located at Purfleet in Essex. The company later had offices at 36 Queen Anne's Gate London SW3 and other storage facilities. In 1911, following a ruling by the US Supreme Court, the dissolution of the Standard Oil Trust took place. This resulted in over 30 separate companies becoming independent. Standard Oil of New Jersey was one of them and acquired the Anglo-American Oil Company (AAOC).
By this time the AAOC was already importing motor spirit into the UK using the brand name of PRATT'S and as the motor, air, and marine, industries started to grow different brands were on offer - Pratts Motor Spirit which was originally sold in cases of 4 x 2 gallon cans, an early aviation brand called 'Aero - Naph' which was sold in sealed PINK 2 gallon cans, Pratt's Perfection Spirit in green cans, Anglo's Taxibus Spirit for commercial vehicles, Anglo's Benzole - a mixture of coal-tar and petrol, Pratts Ethyl - a mixture of alcohol and petrol, Pratts High Test and straight Pratts.
The company was also known as ANGLOCO and this name appeared on some equipment in a stylised logo and formed the basis of a cap badge worn by delivery drivers and other staff. The AAOC owned a petrol pump manufacturer named Gilbert & Barker of Ohio, USA and it is these pumps that the AAOC started to install around 1921 as their post war expansion got underway.
Pratts advertising is seen with and without the apostrophe i.e. PRATT'S, and from the mid 1920's PRATTS . A popular early slogan was 'Pratt's Perfection Spirit from the Golden Pump or the Green Can'. Pratts Ethyl had been introduced in 1927 and around 1929 this was advertised with a caricature of a hatted lady and the slogan 'Drive with Ethyl'. They promoted this new fuel in a variety of ways with giveaway badges showing a slender petrol pump with Ethyl's head as the globe and with round orange transfers of Ethyl on 2 gallon petrol cans. The company even had an aeroplane christened 'Miss Ethyl' which was inaugurated in 1929 at Croydon aerodrome. 'Miss Ethyl' was at the disposal of company sales representatives in the UK and Europe and enabled their staff to quickly get around the country to forge new sales territories.
Taken in the very early days of Aviation this photograph is a rare promotion of Anglo's Aero-Naph. Peter Jeffery writes 'You may be interested in the attached photo. It was taken in July 1910, on the occasion of a carnival in Burgess Hill, West Sussex. The airship was created by my Grandfather around a tricycle, whether it was motorised or not I do not know. My Grandfather was Anthony Hole, who started his Motor and Cycle business in 1895 and continued trading until his death in 1939. Grandfather is at the controls of the Airship. The man to the left in the full size box is advertising Pratt's Motor Spirit, and it is just possible to see Anglo's pink coloured 2 gallon can of Aero-Naph in the Airship'.
A resplendent looking 'Miss Ethyl' with Anglo-American Oil Company Sales Manager Jim Porteous pictured 3rd from the left. It was later reported that Miss Ethyl 'G-AAFD' ditched into the English Channel on the 6th June 1933, details of any casualties are not known. With thanks to Sally Barber for photograph and details
The Esso Brand
In 1935 re branding took place and the AAOC took a phonetic version of the initials of the parent company Standard Oil - 'ess_o' and Pratts was no more as the brand of 'ESSO' set out on the road to become a global household name but it was not until 1951 that the Anglo-American Oil Co was re named to the Esso Petroleum Co Ltd.
The new Esso brands were:
Esso Ethyl Petrol
Esso High Test Petrol
Esso Benzol Mixture
Essolube Motor Oil
The AAOC had expanded its forecourt interests by buying 'The Redline Motor Spirit Co Ltd' a company who continued to trade under its own brands and who also expanded its operations following a merger with Glico Ltd in 1931 to form Redline-Glico Ltd. In 1938 the AAOC also took a controlling interest in Cleveland Petrols when it purchased 51% of the company. It further extended its holding in 1954 to 88% and by 1958 Cleveland had become fully owned. Cleveland continued to trade under its brand name through its nationwide network of garages but by the early 1970's Esso had re branded those garages into
Pratt's later 'Golden Pump' This petrol pump by Gilbert & Barker has the early pill shaped petrol pump globe advertising the brand of Pratts which was to become Esso in 1935
its own network and the Cleveland name disappeared. The Redline - Glico brands had also disappeared prior to the relaxation of the pooled petrol wartime controls in 1953.
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