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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • CARNIVAL OF THE ARTS, 1937

Berrien Cherriers: 1940

Berrien Cherriers: 1940

July 1940. "Automobile of migrant cherry pickers. Berrien County, Michigan." View full size. 35mm nitrate negative by John Vachon for the FSA.

 

Belle Glade

My eyes were drawn to the other sign, which has been a local motto for many years.

"History does not repeat, but it does rhyme."

Nice find!

I for one would love to see a high-res rendering of that (or a similar) ad!

Shell Scallops

I was shopping for some furniture yesterday and noticed an old Shell Oil poster on the wall of the store with a description of the license plate scallops. It said the semaphore flags indicate that the vessel is not moving and is waiting to see what your (the other ship's) intentions are. Below, from a similar ad for sale on eBay:

Shell Heraldry

Dewey, I don't think the semaphores that spell GRP stand for Group.

Since we're all just guessing so far, perhaps they stand for Graham Royal Petroleum.

Graham: According to the Shell Oil history, Graham was an importer of Shell kerosene to India and would invest in and serve on the board of Shell. The scallop is believed to have come from Graham's family crest, in which the shell was incorporated to mark the family's ancestors' pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (symbolized by the scallop). The colors of the logo, red and yellow, were also said to be of Spanish influence to stand out in California (itself then of heavy Spanish influence).

Royal: From the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company

Re: Not Much Help

Brent, I am thinking that GRP stands for Shell Group. Shell Oil is part of the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company. The Royal Dutch/Shell Group of companies was formed in 1907. 60% of the group is owned by Royal Dutch Petroleum and 40% is owned by Shell Transport and Trading Company.

Share the Road

According to a rodder blog, the shell is mounted above the plate and the nautical flags mean "Share the Road".

Don't quote me.

Tag

"G" could be for gasoline. Maybe they were someone's initials?

This picture reminds me of two old things. One, when you used to get all kinds of free things at gas stations, glasses, dishes, toys--and two, cars used to have a second metal "county" tag like this one with the county's claim to fame. Rockingham County in Virginia had "Turkey Capital of the World" for a long, long time. Which was embarrassing when you traveled. As a kid.

Shell Oil License Plate Topper

Ebay has one of the scallop license plate "toppers" from Shell Oil up for bids now.

Not Much Help

Checked the flags on the scallop shells against material on signal flags and from top to bottom (more on that in a second though) they are PRG (P - blue with white center; R - red cross on a yellow background; G - six stripes, alternating blue and yellow). However it is entirely possible, maybe even likely, that the scallops are attached upside-down meaning the real order would be GRP. Minor problem in following this further is that I can't find a name for those initials. One suspects that if it were GRP, the P could stand for "Petroleum."

Shell Signs

Those are examples of an old gas station promotion device called license plate toppers. They are usually seen at the top of the tag, not the bottom, as here. They are from Shell. I don't know the meaning of the tiny flags on them, but assume they are nautical, and have some meaning.

Scallop signal flags

Okay Shorpy Sleuths...

I've done a quick, unsuccessful job of trying to decipher the signal flags embossed on the scallops. What is their message?

And were these scallops with flags a Shell Oil logo? Or just the welcoming sign of a pilgrim on life's merry way?

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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