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National Benzole was founded in London in 1919 and the company is an interesting player in early automotive history. Benzole is a coal-tar product consisting mainly of benzene and toluene and was initially used as a 'motor spirit' - an alternative to petroleum spirits. Use in ammunitions as well as fuelling engines meant there was mass production of Benzole during WW1 and an excess of it remained after the war - a group of entrepeneurs saw this opportunity and the National Benzole Company was formed. There were concerns that neat Benzole was too potent for the average engine and these concerns coupled with coal strikes causing supply issues lead to the company supplying a 50/50 Benzole + Petroleum mix. It was this product that the company would supply for the coming decades. 


This double-sided enamel sign dates back to the era when a petrol station would supply a choice of brands and each would produce advertising to help promote their product. This piece would have originally sat in an iron hoop - hence being double-sided and with mounting holes top, bottom and on each side. Mr Mercury - the company's logo was introduced in 1928 and this sign is likely to date to the 1930s/early '40s. 


It's a fantastic example of it's type - in fact, virtually flawless... Both sides remain wonderfully vibrant with a fantastic, deep and even surface gloss. There's no enamel loss to the main area of either face and just the most minor of chipping around the two mounting holes and very slight nibbling around the outer edges. There are a few very light surface scratches, but these are only really noticable in a raking light. It's so good that when I first saw it at a distance I questioned it's authenticity, but on closer inspection the weight and feel are spot-on and there are small, tell-tale traces of weathering around the mounting holes - the type of aging that just cannot be replicated. It's almost too good to be true, but thankfully - not quite. 


Please note - the photos aren't duplicates - they show each side in order - i.e. a whole image of side one, a whole image of side two, an image with scale of side one, and image with scale of side two, a close up of side one and so on. The differences between the two sides is virtually indistinguishable - very unusual to find a double sided example that's as good on each face!


The sign has a diameter of  76.5cm.


S/N: #0914



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