Exxon Gasoline Shortage Sign, 1974

In late 1973 and 1974, Americans in many parts of the nation experienced severe gasoline shortages after oil-producing nations in the Middle East imposed an embargo on oil shipments to the United States. The shortage severely impacted the mid-Atlantic region. Long lines formed at gasoline stations, motorists became anxious, and tempers flared. One New Jersey resident had to call a police officer to inform motorists that he had a right to break into a line so that he could enter his driveway. When the National Museum of American History began collecting objects representing the shortage, Glenn Bourke, Jr., owner of Closter Exxon in Closter, New Jersey, climbed into the gas station attic and brought down several signs issued by Exxon Corporation to inform motorists, control the flow of cars, and ration gasoline according to commercial availability during times of limited supply. Among them was this sign, which Bourke, then a new employee working for his father, placed on the car designated as the last one in line that could be served that day. Other Exxon-issued signs indicated limits on the number of gallons of gasoline that each motorist could purchase, or a dollar limit on each purchase. The shortage was over by late 1974, and Bourke kept the signs as relics.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Physical Description
corrugated cardboard (overall material)
overall: 14 1/4 in x 16 in x 3/16 in; 36.195 cm x 40.64 cm x .47625 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Road Transportation
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Road
Road Transportation
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Closter Exxon through Glenn Bourke, Jr.

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