Researching a Chicago oil products company sign.


A Chicago college student in January 2021 emailed the American Oil & Gas Historical Society seeking research advice about a recently found porcelain sign from the Star Oil Company. “I’ve tried to do some research on it but I haven’t even found a place to start,” he noted.

Star Oil Company Sign

“All I have to go off of is the sign with the name of a building in Chicago in the bottom corner,” the student explained, adding he knew another collector with a Star Oil Company booklet also tracing back to Chicago.

“I’m hoping you could help me find out even a little information about this company, I’m not looking to sell or anything, the student’s email concluded. “My dad and I just have a passion for anything with an engine as well as history and are very curious about this company and why it seems to have been all but forgotten. Any help would be greatly appreciated.”

Historical Society Research

AOGHS research revealed some information about Star Oil Company and its high grade auto oils. As always with historical society petroleum history articles, suggestions and research tips in the comments section are welcomed. Many old petroleum exploration companies are featured in Is my Old Oil Stock worth Anything?

Old petroleum trade publications reported Chicago’s Star Oil Company as a manufacturer and jobber of lubricants and greases It was a Hamilton family business with roots as far back as 1890.

Advertisement for Star Oil o.

A Star Oil Company ad in the 1911 International Steam Engineer.

By 1905, company president Ebeneezer Hamilton reported $5,000 in common stock with the business located at 307 South Des Plains Street (it would move to Chicago’s 348 Irving Avenue and later to 440 Halsted Street). Star Oil Company supplied oil products for both steam and gasoline engines. By the time of America’s first auto show in November 1900, the company was rapidly increasing its varieties of lubrications.

By 1920, Star Oil capitalization had grown to $30,000 as the company submitted patent and trademark applications for branding Class 15 oil and grease products. Other Star Oil Company trade name applications included Royal, Comet, Star, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn (a cylinder oil). Also a distributor of Quaker State motor oils, Star Oil trademarked Golden Star Oil in 1926.

In 1992, after a century in business, Grant Hamilton sold the family business.


The many stories of many exploration companies trying to join petroleum booms (and avoid busts) can be found in an updated series of research at Is my Old Oil Stock worth Anything? The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Please support this energy education website. © 2021 AOGHS.

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