The U.S. petroleum industry was just a decade old. As oil discoveries spread from northwestern Pennsylvania, efficiently transporting the new resource became critical.

According to its 1867 prospectus, the Staveless Barrel and Tank Company was organized under the laws of New York and capitalized at $500,000 with 5,000 shares at $100 each.

The prospectus announced to potential investors: This Company holds the patent for the manufacture of absolutely tight Tanks, Cisterns, Hogsheads, Puncheons, Barrels, Kegs and Boxes.

The want of such an article has long been felt throughout the country, but in no place so much as in the Oil Districts, where millions of gallons are annually lost through imperfect packages.

With refineries needing oil to meet soaring demand for kerosene, the company planned to exploit a patent by John K, Mayo (no. 92,332) for an “Improved Process and Apparatus for Manufacturing Composition Pipes, Tubes, Barrels, etc.”

Although Mayo’s invention was reported to produce leak-proof laminated wooden barrels for as little as $2.50 each, the Staveless Barrel & Tank Company did not survive.

Traditional wooden barrels had always been problematic for shipping oil even before a group of oilmen met in Titusville, Pennsylvania, in 1866 and agreed to a standardized size. See History of the 42-Gallon Oil Barrel.

Despite the introduction of pipelines and railroad tank cars, there remained the need for durable, leak-proof barrels.

Not until 1902 did  Standard Oil introduced a steel version of the common 42-gallon oil barrel – keeping the traditional bilged appearance.

Famed New York World journalist Nellie Bly’s 1905 patent ultimately evolved into today’s ubiquitous 55-gallon drum. Read more in The Remarkable Nellie Bly. Staveless Barrel and Tank Company stock certificates today have collectible value.


The stories of exploration and production companies joining petroleum booms (and avoiding busts) can be found updated in Is my Old Oil Stock worth Anything? The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Please support this AOGHS.ORG energy education website. For membership information, contact © 2018 Bruce A. Wells.

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