Pace well – Winn Parish, Louisiana

J.D. Pace (1861-1946) lived in Winnfield, Louisiana and was active in the oil business and in real estate. In August, 1906 he organized the Pace Oil Company with capital stock of 50,000 shares at a dollar a share.  The Winnfield Southern Sentinel (January 18, 1907) reported on a Pace well near Winnfield that had “passed through granite” and was drilling in sand.  The article stated that “the flow of natural gas in the Pace oil well is now something immense and the supply seems to be practically inexhaustible.”  Specimens of the “volcanic rock” were later determined to be “gypsum and limestone, darkened by hydrocarbons and pyrite” (Harris 1910).  This well was probably drilled on the Cedar Creek salt dome, a few miles southeast of Winnfield.  Postcard postmarked 5/22/1908 in Winnfield, LA.  Note the three men on top of the derrick and the large crowd in front, dressed in their Sunday best, for the photograph.

Harris, G.D., 1910, Oil and gas in Louisiana, USGS Bulletin 429.

Pace 1908 pc

Hughes No. 1 McKee well fire and Baroid advertising

Postcard view of the J.K. Hughes No. 1 McKee well near Corsicana and Powell, Texas.  On May 8, 1923, the well blew in at 8,000 barrel of oil per day from a depth of 2,850 feet.  Within 24 hours a spark ignited the oil and gas.  Sixteen men died as a result of the fire; thirteen at the derrick and three later in hospital.  The fire was extinguished on May 20th.   Mexia, Texas photographer J.D. Buie took this photograph.

Probably not the most tasteful oilfield view/caption to use for an advertisement, the reverse of this postcard is a very early Baroid sales pitch, presumably, for their drilling mud additive.

The National Pigments and Chemical Company was a subsidiary of National Lead Company. Their St. Louis plant produced paint-grade barite for use in drilling mud and was marketed under the brand name Baroid. In 1926 the company began efforts to secure a patent.  Baroid Sales Company was formed in 1931 (Caenn, Ryen, Darley, H.C.H, and George Gray, 2011, Composition and properties of drilling and completion fluids; Gulf Professional Publishing, 720 pp.).

Hughes fire Powell pc revHughes fire Powell pc

Amoco Gas Leyendecker ink blotters

J.C. (Joseph Christian) Leyendecker (1874 – 1951) was one of the preeminent American illustrators of the early 20th century. Between 1896 and 1950, Leyendecker illustrated more than 400 magazine covers, including 322 for The Saturday Evening Post. Some of his most popular Post covers were of “Saturday Evening Post babies.”   Leyendecker borrowed his baby for a series of posters commissioned by Amoco Gas during and just after World War II. Each poster rang in the New Year with the Leyendecker baby. Many of these posters were also produced as 9’ x 20’ billboards, made up of 15 panels. Additional non-baby Leyendecker illustrations were also used on Amoco posters.

The Amoco Leyendecker illustrations were also produced as ink blotters (~ 2 3/4″ x 5 3/4″). Ink blotters were a popular form of advertising that were given away by banks, merchants, insurance companies, and other businesses. Included here are Amoco Gas “baby” blotters from 1941-1950, missing 1946. I have not located a 1946 Amoco Gas “baby” ink blotter, nor have I seen one online. I have seen an Amoco Gas “baby” poster attributed to 1946, but without a date within the illustration. There is also a 1952 Leyendecker Amoco “baby” poster, issued posthumously, but I have not located an ink blotter of this image.

Interestingly, a Norman Rockwell illustration became a 1939 Amoco poster that was also produced as an ink blotter.194119421943194419451947194819491950


Petroleum-related cigarette cards

Cigarette cards originated in the late 1800s and by the early 1900s over 300 tobacco companies were including the popular collectibles in cigarette packs. Themes for sets included military, history, sports, transportation, and industry.  Commonly there were 25-50 different cards per set.  Three early notable British cigarette card advertisers were W.D. & H.O. Wills, John Player & Sons, and Godfrey Phillips, Limited.

Petroleum-related cigarette cards included scenes from Baku, the over-water drilling at Summerland, California, a Texas oil field fire, and other generic drilling and oil gusher scenes. Often the same scene was used by multiple advertisers.  The Wills cards were part of a 1932 set of 50 “Products of the World” series.  The similar Player’s cards were part of an earlier 1928 set by the same name.

SPENCER, Jeff A., 2009, The petroleum history in trade cards, trading cards, and comic books, Oil-Industry History, v. 10, p. 115-119.drillingdoublefront-03

Godfrey Phillips, Ltd.  No. 17 of 25 – Empire Industries series


Summerland, CA  No. 34 of 50 in the 1916 Mining series  



Baku Piedmont cigs
Piedmont Cigarettes


Baku Wills 33
Baku   33 of 50 in 1916 Mining series


West Texas Wills 35
Texas oil field fire  35 of 50 in 1916 Mining series

Where’s the horse?

Here are three postcards from northwest Ohio showing an early Lima-Indiana oil field oil gusher.  The two color versions (one attributed to Bowling Green and the other to nearby Lima) show a black horse that postcard “retouchers” added to the scene.  The crudely added horses are not quite the same on the two postcards…note the legs.  The postcards were also cropped differently and the coloring is different.  The sepia-toned Lima postcard (without the horse) and the colored, Bowling Green version were both postmarked in 1908.

Wyoming oil postcards – Doubleday

Photographer Ralph Russell Doubleday (1881-1958) is not generally known for his oilfield photography. The Rodeo Postcard King is credited with producing over 30 million real photo postcards (RPPCs) of predominantly rodeo scenes during his 58-year career as a photographer.  He was born Edward Cochran in Canton, Iowa. He died in Council Bluffs, Iowa on July 1, 1958.  As early as 1910, he had changed his name to Doubleday.   Supposedly he told a nephew that he chose the name because he felt that he worked 24 hours a day (  In his early 20s, Doubleday worked as a photographer for Underwood & Underwood, publishers of stereoviews.

Freelancing at the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo in August, 1910, Doubleday photographed a rider being thrown by a bucking horse; the first photograph capturing such a view, according to Doubleday. With his success at rodeo photography, he soon started his own business.  Doubleday’s early real photo postcards bear the copyright notice “D.F.P. Co. Inc.”  This was an early partnership of Doubleday-Foster Photo Company of Miles City, Montana.   In later years, this notice would become “R.R. Doubleday” and later, simply “Doubleday.”

Doubleday’s oilfield scenes include oil derricks, refineries, and boomtown scenes from Texas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming from about 1919 to 1931. Shown here are some Doubleday Wyoming real photo postcards of the giant Standard Oil refinery in Casper (opened in 1914), the Midwest Oil Refinery (opened in December, 1911), and two views of the Big Muddy oil field (discovered in 1916).

Drugstores, souvenir shops, and over 200 Woolworth stores sold Doubleday postcards. By far the majority of his postcards were rodeo scenes, but he also photographed parades, natural disasters, Native Americans, town scenes, buildings, and scenic views. Will Rogers supposedly wrote that Doubleday’s name on a rodeo postcard was like “sterling” on silver.

SPENCER, Jeff, 2014, Early Texas oilfield photographers, Oil-Industry History, v. 15, p. 81-89.

Early Romanian Gushers


The Petroleum Review (November 12, 1904, p. 387): “Visitors to the Campina Spouter – Sixty engineers, members of the Roumanian Polytechnical Society, recently paid a visit to the Campina oil fields and inspected the celebrated well No. 65 of the Steaua Romana.  They were cordially welcomed and entertained by the management of the company.”

Campina is a city in Prahova County, Romania, 40 km north of the county seat Ploiesti, with a rich petroleum history. The Campina oilfields were known for many impressive oil gushers in the early 1900s, depicted on postcards. The city is noted for the first school for drilling and refining foremen (1904) and as a major early refining center.  The Steaua Romana Oil Refinery in Campina was a target of WW II Allied air strikes in 1943 (“Operation Tidal Wave”), as well as a target during WW I.

For more on the petroleum history of Romania, visit my friend and co-author Marius Furcuta’s excellent blog:

Here are four postcard versions of the same oil gusher, identified in the black & white version, and the postcard far right, as the Steaua Romana No. 65.