On August 1, 1887, in Lima, Ohio, the Ohio Oil Company was founded. The company was purchased by the Rockefeller interests in 1889 and became a subsidiary of The Standard Oil Trust. In 1911, the Standard Oil Trust was broken up and the Ohio Oil Company became independent.
The first paper credit card
The company’s first paper credit card was issued in 1920. It was a paper card and was issued under the name Transcontinental Oil Company. It was valid for the purchase of Marathon gasoline and oils. Shortly thereafter, the Ohio Oil Company purchased the Lincoln Oil Company (LINCO).
The LINCO and Marathon trademarks were used on the paper cards through the 1940s. The Ohio Oil Company issued its last paper credit card bearing an expiration date of December 31, 1953.
Metal charge plate
In 1954, the Ohio Oil Company issued a slightly oversized metal charge plate. This was followed by a smaller princess sized metal plate. This princess-sized plate was carried over to the first plastic credit card issued in the late 1950s. This card was valid at Ohio Oil Company stations as well as Speedway, Atlantic, Carter, and SuperTest service stations.
The full-sized plastic credit card
Shortly thereafter, they acquired Speedway Petroleum and issued a joint Ohio Oil Company/Speedway Petroleum credit card. On August 1, 1962, the Ohio Oil Company changed its name to Marathon Oil Company to unify its trade name and to give recognition to growth of operations beyond the state of Ohio.
At the same time, Marathon introduced its first full sized plastic credit card.
A timeline of the Marathon credit card evolution
Between 1962 and 1987, the Marathon card has been changed eleven times. These cards are listed as follows:
- In 1962, Marathon Oil Company issued its first full sized plastic card with the “Big M” marketing logo on it. It was a non-expiring card, embossed with a barcode which was used to mechanically capture the numeric identification for customers’ invoices. The card was gold and white and was valid at Marathon, Speedway, Enco, Atlantic, SuperTest, and Flying A stations.
- In the mid 1960s, Marathon issued the non-expiring gold card. It was valid at Marathon, Atlantic, Lion, Richfield, Enco, SuperTest, and Flying A stations.
- In the late 1960s, they changed the reverse of the above card and removed the Atlantic and Richfield exchange company logos. The front of the card remained the same.
- In 1970, Marathon issued the blue and gold card. This card had an expiration date embossed on the front and a signature block on the reverse of the card. This card was valid at Marathon, Skelly, Esso, Enco, Humble, Lion, Getty, and Imperial Esso stations.
- In 1972, the blue and gold card was updated on the reverse. The Esso, Enco, and Humble logos were removed and replaced with the Exxon logo. The front of the card remained the same.
- In 1975, an expiring gold and white card was issued. The card was valid at Marathon, Exxon, Skelly, Getty, and Imperial Esso stations. From this point on, every three years in the spring, a new style card was issued.
- In 1978, a pictorial card with trees against a blue sky was issued. The exchange companies, on the reverse, remained the same.
- In 1981, a mountain lake pictorial card was issued. The Getty and Skelly logos were removed from the reverse of the card. The card was only valid at Marathon, Exxon and Imperial Esso stations.
- On January 7, 1982, U.S. Steel bought the Marathon Oil Company. The name of the company was changed to Marathon Petroleum Company which necessitated the above card to be reissued in the new name.
- In 1984, Marathon Petroleum Company issued a pictorial card of Market Square, Toledo, Ohio. A magnetic stripe was added to this card.
- In the spring of 1987, Marathon issued its centennial card celebrating the 100 year period: 1887 through 1987.
Find out more about collecting credit cards, including Marathon credit cards, here.
Copyright by Greg Turks 1987