On the outskirts of Milan, Italy, the Fisogni museum is dedicated to petrol / gas station pumps and ephemera. The pumps are gorgeous. We like things with buttons, dials. Paint them in vivid colours and decorate them with fonts designed by leading graphic designers, and you’ve got cultural artefacts to cherish.
Guido Fisogni began his collection in the early Sixties with an old five-litre, double-vessel Bergomi gasoline pump, abandoned in a sand quarry.
“I decided immediately to recuperate and restore it, and since that moment more than thirty years ago, work and hobby now intermingled, I have been able to put together a collection which the experts of industrial art judge to be unique and particularly rich,” he says.
The earliest fuel pump was invented and sold by Sylvanus Bowser in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on September 5, 1885, was used to dispense kerosene for use in lamps and stoves.
The first gasoline pump was patented by Norwegian John J. Tokheim in 1901.
Early gasoline pumps had a calibrated glass cylinder on top. Fuel was pumped into the cylinder as indicated by the calibration. When you had the right amount, you stopped pumping and gravity took the gasoline into the customer’s tank. When metering pumps came into use, a small glass globe with a turbine inside replaced the measuring cylinder to show the customer that gasoline really was flowing into the tank.
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