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Dinkinius's picture
Dinkinius
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AustraliaDTCA Member

-781 Petrol Pump Station “Esso” (1955-65)

The rear cover of the July 1955 issue of the Meccano Magazine announced the release of No. 781 Petrol Pump Station “Esso”. This set was a replacement for the pre-war and post-war series of petrol pumps and oil bin, the individual pumps having been deleted in 1953 and the set in 1954. This new item was to bring the pumps up-to-date and with a more modern image.

The items comprising the 781 Petrol Pump Station “Esso” consisted of two modern pumps sitting on an island with the appearance of flagstones, with each pump having a length of hose at the end of which was a reproduction nozzle – just like the real thing. In the centre of the island is a long post on which is hung the familiar Esso sign.

It was a very elegant set which in its individual yellow end-flap box the interior of which consisted of a yellow cardboard tri-fold used as a packing piece that held all four individual items, pumps, island and advertising pole and sign, with all items either inserted loose, or secured into the packing piece.

The 781 Petrol Pump Station Esso was finally deleted when it made its last appearance in the Agent’s Order Form for February 1965. Its days had been numbered when a redesigned island petrol station with an attendant’s booth was launched in mid-November 1960 in the colours of Shell (Sales No. 782) and BP, (Sales No.783).

Please note, the PDF File as well as Ramsay’s British Diecast Catalogue has 1962 as the deletion year for the 781  which is incorrect. The Richardsons’  large tome “The Great Book of Dinky Toys” has 1964 which is also incorrect.

Both 782 “Shell” and 783 “BP” were deleted during 1970 according to a number of sources, however, in perusing my (incomplete) price lists and Agent Order Forms, No. 783 “BP” made its last appearance in the February 1965 Agents Order Form, and the August 1965 2nd Edition catalogue.  With no further appearance in the September 1965, July 1966, January 1967, April 1968 and May 1968 Price Lists leads me to suspect that 783 had been deleted shortly after the August 1965 catalogue. “The Great Book of Dinky Toys” agrees with 1965 as its deletion year.

Perhaps the copyright to use the BP symbol was only for a period of five years, although for this to be valid, it would have affected the 944 Shell-BP Tanker which soldiered on until mid-1969. (Unless again if the “Shell-BP” symbol was covered under a different copyright agreement!) Most likely it was a commercial decision by Triang, the new owners of Meccano to limit the number of duplicated models in an effort to reduce costs, to bring Meccano back to a more economic footing.

This then left the 782 Petrol Pump Station “Shell” as the only set available from September 1965 and it soldiered on until it too had been withdrawn by June 1969.

I have also changed the title of the 781 topic to that used by Meccano, “Petrol Pump Station “Esso”.

Here is a piece of trivia.  I often wondered what “Esso” meant, until I discovered that it was actually the initials of the owner, Standard Oil, “S O” (“Ess” and “O”). Well how about that.  Here in Australia the product of Standard Oil was originally called “Atlantic Motor Spirit” which was subsequently replaced by Esso in the early 1960s. While on trivia, Vacuum became Mobil, then Mobilgas and finally back to Mobil! And another wonderful piece of trivia, BP or British Petroleum was originally named C.O.R., the Commonwealth Oil Refinery, or at least here in Australia.

Bruce H.   (150)

2016/1024/2341

 

janwerner's picture
janwerner
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DTCA MemberNetherlands

Very nice contribution, Bruce. Now it's clear how the separate parts should fit into the many-folded packing piece! I can only add a picture of mine showing that my box is without illustration, but it bears the same price 4/6 in pencil. The box is just fair but the station is as new, with a nice satin finish, patina. Remarkable that the post of my example does not fit correctly, fully down, into the base. A detail added from the 1964 catalogue, showing this pump station and its successors. Kind regards, Jan 

Dinkinius's picture
Dinkinius
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AustraliaDTCA Member

Hello Jan

Many thanks for your always valued contribution.  The price 4/6 on both the picture and non-picture boxes was relevant between January 1956 to January 1959 (possibly as far as April 1959 as the next price change, actually a reduction, was in May 1959 to 4/5. In May 1961, the price increased from 4/5 to 4/6 which remained thus until May 1962 when it increased to 4/11.  These are all UK prices. Perhaps your box is from the May 1961 to May 1962 period? Unfortunately my box has no inspection stamp on any inner flap, so I guess we will never know!

The following is from the 1961 UK Catalogue.

 

And the following is from the Australian 1961 Catalogue:

Like most things Meccano, I have found a correction to the deletion date for the 782 Petrol Pump Station "Shell" which I will correct in Post #1 above.  Contrary to what I previously wrote that this set was deleted in June 1969, although it was not included in the Agents Order Form for July 1969 for the period 25 July to 11 August 1969, the set was included in the May 1970 UK catalogue and also the 1970 Australian catalogue, so its deletion date was in fact 1970, as other publications have recorded. My apologies - one has to examine all sources. (Why the set was not included in that Agent's Order Form is a mystery Perhaps someone made a decision to delete the item which was later reversed - who knows!)

Part of the price list for the 1 May 1970 UK Catalogue:

The 782 was included in the Australian version of the 1970 catalogue, but the price list has no exact date:

So we now have:

781 Petrol Pump Station - "Esso"  July 1955 to at least March 1965

782 Petrol Pump Station "Shell" Mid-November 1960 to late 1970

783 Petrol Pump Station "BP" Mid November 1960 to late 1965

Kind regards

Bruce H.   (150)

20161031/1025/1503

janwerner's picture
janwerner
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DTCA MemberNetherlands

In a far 'corner' of my disks I happened to find this attractive photo of an ensemble of my Dinky Esso items, taken by Dave Busfield back in 2008, when we were preparing the DTCA 75th Anniversary Calendar and the same postcard wallet. Of course many more photos were taken than finally included. This one wasn't included. Kind regards, Jan