What’s My Vintage Pegasus Sign Worth? Demand for Mobilgas Mythological Horse Signs Still Flying High!
My hunt continues for the mythological creature — the famed flying horse that advertising and petroliana collectors spend their lives trying to find. If you’re an oil and gas guy or gal, you’ve got to have a large-sized Pegasus in your collection.
And if you’re a collector who owns one or a family member who just inherited one, you’re sitting pretty. The answer to the question “What’s my vintage Pegasus sign worth?” is a good one. Collectors go nuts for Pegasus signs, and people everywhere adore them when they’re on public display.
Pegasus logo history
“The Pegasus appeared on Mobilgas products during 1911, but it was in 1931, with the forming of Socony-Vacuum, that it was officially adopted as a trademark,” according to a fascinating story in the Planet Retro blog, which, sadly, appears to no longer exist. “The flying horse was first colored red by an artist at the Mobil Sekiyu division in Japan. A major makeover was done in the 1930s by the commercial illustrator Robert ‘Rex’ Elmer. Not only was it given a cleaner and more graphic appearance, but the horse now flew from left to right, as opposed to from right to left.”
Planet Retro added that “the Pegasus symbol is still used today by ExxonMobil, symbolizing imagination, power and speed.”
My first Mobilgas Pegasus find
I got lucky five years ago when I finally found a huge Pegasus sign for the first time that someone was actually willing to sell. The initial asking price was well beyond my budget but I knew I would lose my mind if I left the seller’s house without it. The seller had a bunch of other great stuff, so I worked a deal to buy in bulk — more money and free space for the client and a safer deal for us.
I wanted to keep the sign but I was out of pocket too much money to hold on to it. Not to mention that I didn’t exactly have wall space for a sign that big — something like 5 or 6 feet wide. And the dealer who turns into a big collector is a dealer who is no longer in business. I sent the piece to auction right away because one thing I’ve learned in this business is that it’s not always how much you make on a piece but how fast you make it. Think of it as the law of compounding interest — the quicker I take my profit and invest it into something else, the more money I make in the long run.
The piece sold at auction for about $2,500. I ended up with a tad under $2,000 after the auction fees — making a profit of about $500 to $700 for a day of driving across the Virginia countryside, hauling that big sucker sign out of a house and up a mighty hill, bringing it to my house to study, and then dragging it to auction in Maryland.
Value of vintage Pegasus signs only going up
In retrospect, maybe cashing out that sign immediately was a mistake. Demand for Pegasus signs was sky-high then and remains so now. For a sign that size, maybe I could have sold it directly for up to twice what it sold for at auction.
Maybe. It’s equally plausible that I could have held on to it for ages without selling it for much more — meaning my investment money was generating zero interest.
Perhaps someday I’ll find another one, I’ve always thought.
But I’ve never come close.
Another call: Selling a Pegasus cookie cutter sign and others in a bundle
Then I got a call last week from a man who has not one vintage Pegasus sign but three of them! A Google search directed him to our original story on vintage Pegasus signs.
“What’s my vintage Pegasus sign worth? he asked.
He wasn’t sure that he wanted to sell them but he said his daughter was getting on him pretty good about it. She doesn’t want him to leave his big advertising collection behind for her to have to deal with when he moves on to the big gas station in the sky.
I’m always encouraging older folks to practice what I call “benevolence from beyond” — downsizing their massive collections long before they die. No child, no matter how old, wants to deal with the stress of dealing with heaping piles of stuff at the same time they are grieving for someone they love so dearly.
How to know when it’s time to sell vintage advertising
The man told me he had just been offered $5,000 for each sign. He wanted to know if that was an offer worth considering.
The answer is a little bit complicated but because he has three different types of vintage Pegasus signs — all big ones in metal and porcelain. He has the awesome “cookie cutter” version with the metal ridges that look like you could press into a humongous sheet of cookie dough. He’s also got the big round, flat signs.
The pictures he sent me revealed that they were in pretty good shape, all things considered. Not mint, but showing the normal amount of wear and tear that you would expect to see on older signs.
He said he worried $15,000 might be too low.
Yes and no, I said.
People are certainly asking $10,000 to $15,000 for cookie-cutter signs that are up to 12 feet wide – and sometimes they’re actually getting it!
The keyword is “sometimes”.
The man’s large, round porcelain Pegasus signs don’t typically draw such big paydays. They have sold for $3,000 to $5,000 in public venues on average over the past few years. Some sell for more when they’re in mint condition.
Can be hard to find buyers willing to spend big on expensive signs
I told the man that there are not an enormous number of people walking around who are willing to drop $15,000 on some signs. That offer is absolutely nothing to sneeze at. It’s certainly better than any offer I could make. As a general rule, I’m not going to plop down big bucks like that hoping I can generate a 33-percent profit — with a more conservative and probably more accurate notion being that I would likely wind up making only a 15 to 20 percent profit. Too much risk, not enough reward
The net gain would be less, actually, because the figures above don’t take into account my labor cost of moving such big signs across the region, or the time in additional expenses I would incur trying to sell the Pegasus signs.
The other person who made the man an offer was essentially offering to pay full retail on the round signs in exchange for getting a bit of a break on the cookie-cutter sign. He was clearly a collector buying for keeps, not for resale.
Could I perhaps generate more dollars for the thrice-blessed Pegasus owner if I took this project on in a consignment arrangement?
Once again, it’s a tough call. There’s no, well, cookie-cutter answer here.
For the man who called me, the answer to the question of what’s my vintage Pegasus sign worth may come down to how much value he places on having a flying horse sale in his hand versus three in the air – and what kind of a premium he places on practicing benevolence from beyond for his daughter.
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