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Navigation aidOPTIMOL

Optimol was established in 1920 in Munich (München), Bavaria, and soon became a specialist in high performance lubricants and greases. In May 1990 it was acquired by the leading British lubricant specialist, Castrol (then part of Burmah), and so has now passed into the ownership of BP. The Optimol name is mainly used in German-speaking countries on synthetic and bio-degradable oils, used for specialist applications in industries such as food, textiles and printing.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, Optimol was much more of a mainstream - yet regional - player in the market. As such, it needed to advertise its oils to the motoring public, and regularly bought space on the back covers of maps from its Munich neighbour, JRO-Verlag.

The earliest known advert (right) is from an early 1950s JRO map #133 of Southwest Germany. As with most JRO maps from the era, a full colour map was pasted into dull card covers, carrying just one advert on the rear. This shows the original Optimol logo, with the brand name being grasped in the talons of an eagle.

Optimol advert on rear of ca1952 JRO map
ca1957 Optimol advert

The simple advert (left) was on the back of a mid-1950s map #151 of Germany. this cover was in relatively rough card, and the front (just carrying JRO's name) was similarly simple. By the end of the decade (right), the front cover of map #182 (Zentralalpen) was printed in two colours and laminated under cellophane, although the rear advert for Optimol was still printed in only one colour. In this design the words "Optimol-Öle" are bursting through newspaper cuttings.

ca1958 Optimol Advert from JRO map

The front and rear covers of a ca1961 map of the Alpine lands are shown right - the Optimol factory is illustrated and described. At this level of advertising it's a fine point as to whether it should be counted as an Optimol map by JRO, or a JRO map with Optimol adverts. (I have treated similar maps from Veedol as being issued by the company.) However it is clear that the product being advertised is motor oil, and not fuels.

ca1961 JRO (Optimol) map of the Alps ca1961 JRO (Optimol) map of the Alps - rear cover

However Optimol did appear to make at least a tentative step into selling road fuels. A 1962 DEA atlas is known that carries a rubber stamp for "Optimol Tankstelle, Würzburg".

By around 1968, when the map shown here was published, Optimol had seemingly switched this to their own brand: it is described on the JRO sectional map #103 of Nürnberg as being the "Optimol-Großtankstation Würzburg, Nürnberger Straße". This was clearly a flagship for the brand with a curved canopy sweeping out from the shop area. It may have been unique, although in the early 1970s I did once see a small filling station near Tegernsee with white pumps but an internally illuminated Optimol sign above them.

ca1968 JRO map of North Bavaria (Nuernberg) Optimol advert from rear cover of ca1968 JRO map of North Bavaria (Nuernberg)

Optimol service station from ca1968 JRO map of North Bavaria (Nuernberg)

Top of PageIf you know any more about Optimol's foray into retail petrol sales, then please send me an e-mail.

Text and layout © Ian Byrne, 2004-11

All original copyrights in logos and map extracts and images are acknowledged and images are included on this site for identification purposes only.