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Home > History of Vintage American Visible Gas Pumps


The visible gas pump with a glass containment holder attached to the top first hit stations in 1880s, according to "Collectors Weekly." The globes disappeared from the American landscape by the 1950s, although rural stations sometimes have an inoperable unit as decoration.

  1. History

    • The Bowser Company of Fort Wayne, Indiana, produced the first mass-manufactured visible gas pumps in 1880. Although the pump design incorporated underground tanks by 1898, the visible tanks were popular with motorists eager to see the quality of the gas sold at the station.


    • The clear glass pump top held a total of five or 10 gallons of fuel. Impure gas was a common problem and the glass feature allowed motorists a clear view of the total product that went into the gas tank. Other features on the gas pump included a manual pump handle and a face, resembling a clock, to record the gas purchase.


    • Pumps came various styles and designs depending on the manufacturer. More than 40 companies made visible pumps including Tokheim, Clear Vision, Guaranteed Liquid and Crouse Clear Vision.