Petrol cans


With reference to Mr. Wright's (of Oxford) letter in Motor Sport re "PRATT'S" petrol cans. I am no great authority on the subject, but had family connections with the Anglo-American Oil Co. Ltd.—as it was then. Some of this is from memory, but here goes.

The cans were always green for No. 1 Grade. Aviation Spirit was in a gold-painted can, but later this was changed to just a gold top. Commercial Grade—or "Taxibus" as it was sometimes called—had a silver-painted top. I never saw red incorporated in any way, but the delivery wagons were predominantly green with red bonnet and wings.

Anyway, red was always the "Shell" colour, "BP" were khaki, "National Benzole" were yellow, "Red Line" were blue with a red line on the sides, and "Carburine" (remember that one?) were purple!

I have a "Pratt's" can in my possession now—not in original green unfortunately. The base is stamped VALOR, 2-29, and the top is stamped "PRATTS" in block letters, with "3/-" in one corner. The main sides have 'Pratts" in stylised script, and the other sides PRATTS, in block letters, reading down. In no case is the apostrophe used.

BUT, there was a Mr. ------. PRATT. Don't know details but he was a petrol pioneer and gave his name to this petrol–hence "PRATT'S PERFECTION SPIRIT". He was an American, of course, and connected with the "Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey", of which the Anglo-American Oil Co. Ltd. was a subsidiary.

I enclose a "rubbing" (rather poor I'm afraid) of a copper ash tray in my possession since the early 20s, and the apostrophe is noticeable in all cases, and I seem to remember the apostrophe was always used on the early cans. I should imagine that with the passing years and for easier stamping of the cans the apostrophe was omitted.

I have seen black cans with "Pratts" script in gold and seem to remember you could get a can to match the colour scheme of the car–this when the spare can was carried on the running board.