STUDY OF THE VOCO PATTERNS USED IN AUSTRALIA.
By David Coath
Background to the VOCO Introduction
A STUDY OF THE PERFINS OF VACUUM OIL Co - VOCO
Vacuum Oil were a very large petroleum company that later became known as “Mobil Australia. The nature of their business of refining and distribution meant that they had many offices across Australia in both capital cities and in regional areas. What is more as a company they were prolific perfin users over a long period of time from 1895 to as recently as 1962. They also were responsible for the VO and VOC patterns but in this study I have focused on the VOCO patterns.
As with similar long term and geographically spread users, such as Howard Smith Shipping (HSCO / HSLD) Vacuum Oil used a large number of devices , often with very similar pattern styles. John Mathew’s in his Handbook of Australian Private Perfins (HAPP) lists 15 VOCO patterns but he reports that 4 more have been found since HAPP was issued in 2003. Also Ken Killeen and John presented an article in the April 2005 SPPB that highlighted the variation that existed in the VOCO.6 and VOCO.7 patterns. They showed that these patterns were actually made by a series of very similar devices located across Australia. So with this information and pattern types that I have found in this study the number of VOCO devices is really closer to 30.
As with other users who have many devices the patterns of these devices can be very similar and this can lead to confusion in the correct identification of patterns. In turn this can mean that incorrect usage dates and locations can be reported.
In my study of the VOCO’s I have looked at over 2000 examples and in order to try and find any variation within a pattern I compared each of the examples I viewed with the HAPP image and when the pattern varied from this image I created my own drawing in order to define the difference. With each example I have confirmed the specific pattern and were possible noted other information such as the stamp issue, postmark location and date.
This has allowed me to build up a good picture of the usage of the VOCO devices over time and I am confident that the examples that I have studied tell much of the story of the patterns of this user. However there is perhaps some information in your VOCO’s that will add to my findings or indeed refute them. Please take the time to have a look through what you have and please contact me if you have anything to report or indeed have queries about VOCO patterns.
Summary of Findings
VOCO.1 Melbourne device ,1896 – 1932. Single head.
VOCO.2 Brisbane device , 1928-38 Some South East Queensland postmarks such as Kingaroy , Charleville and Mitchell. Single head . No 2nd type.
VOCO.3 At least 4 separate single head devices with similar patterns
Newcastle 1917-40 (the most common), die damaged in 1930 and repaired in 1939
Broken Hill 1926-29
Port Pirie 1939-57 Like Broken Hill die but thinner pins may be same device
VOCO.4 Cannot find any evidence of it.
Listed in HAPP as a Melbourne device like VOCO.7 but without the dot under the o of Co . Cannot find any evidence of Melbourne usage of pattern like .4 or .7
VOCO.5 Perth device ,1930 -60 . Single head.
VOCO.6 At least 4 separate single head devices with similar patterns
Other 1938 approx
VOCO.7 At least 4 separate single head devices with similar patterns
VOCO.8 Melbourne device, 1956-62, 2-3 heads dies identical
VOCO.9 Device located at 2 offices in different periods 1921-45
Townsville 1930-45 Atherton, Ayr , Tully postmarks
VOCO.10 2 separate devices with identical single head dies.
VOCO.11 Sydney device ,1914- 55, single head.
VOCO.12 Melbourne device , 1910 - 19, single head
No evidence of any types
VOCO.13 At least 2 separate single head devices with similar patterns
VOCO.14 Melbourne based service puncture 1902
VOCO.15 Brisbane device 1923 , single head.
Some variation in the thickness of pins. More examples needed
VOCO.16 Adelaide device ,1913-14 , single head
VOCO.17 Melbourne based service puncture , 1911
VOCO.18 Unknown location ,194?-48
VOCO.19 Melbourne based service puncture , 190?
Issues arising from the findings
These findings raise a number of issues as follows:
1 Different devices covered within a HAPP pattern Number
If you consider the different strikes from devices defined within a pattern number , such as is found in VOCO.3, 6, 7, 9, 10 and 13 , to be separate patterns then you arrive at a total of 30 VOCO patterns. However although these are strikes are from separate devices in terms of detailed structure, time and location, it would be confusing to list them separately as they are so similar in appearance. I feel that they can fit under the definition of a “type” as defined in HAPP. I present images here so as to show the differences clearly in a 1:1 scale and allow you to use them as a guide when sorting your patterns.
2 Usage Dates
Because I have started with a “clean slate“ in terms of usage I may not have found examples across the full usage range of some patterns and in particular the earliest and latest usage dates. However I believe that some of the HAPP usage dates may be too broad, in particular in respect to earliest usage of VOCO.2,6,10, and 13. These are all listed as 1913 which is conveniently the start of the Commonwealth period but I can find no usage of these patterns on 1st and or 2nd watermark Kangaroos or early KGV’s that fit this early usage. If you have them I would be keen to see them.
3 Overlapping Usage in one location
In some cases usage of different patterns/devices overlaps in the same location. This is the case in Melbourne where there are almost always 2 patterns/devices in use at the one time. This may be due to the fact that Vacuum Oil had 2 offices or an office and a refining plant both in Melbourne.
The images that I present may differ slightly from those that appeared in HAPP. They are mainly my own drawings with the notable exception of VOCO.17 supplied by J Mathews.
So have a look at your VOCO’s and see what you can find.
E: David Coath