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Huge Shell petroliana collection to sell as one lot

Billed as the world’s largest single-owner collection
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In addition to a magnificent roster of 100 of the world's finest motor cars, RM Auctions inaugural Sporting Classics of Monaco sale this Saturday, May1, will feature a single group lot of what is billed as the world’s largest single-owner collection of Shell petroliana.

The result of over 35 years of judicious collecting by passionate Dutch collector and long-term Shell employee, Gilles Warning, the collection was amassed during Warning’s 35-year career at Shell and his many travels around the world. Today, the impressive offering comprises of 1,000 different items, which will be sold as a single lot at the upcoming Monaco sale. From porcelain and enamel signs to oil cans and tins, glass pump globes and oil bottles, the collection spans Shell’s history and global presence with many items displayed in English, Dutch, French and Arabic languages.

The collection provides a snapshot of Shell’s development into one of the world’s most-recognized brands during the 20th Century. It also provides ample evidence of Shell’s reach, with a veritable multitude of containers and products aimed at a wide variety of markets including automotive, aviation, home and industrial.

The collection comprises approximately 160 enamelled signs, 30 glass pump globes, 40 oil bottles, 30 one- and five-gallon oil cans and 600 oil cans and tins, as well as approximately 100 smaller assorted items. Prototype items and original Shell documents dating back to the 1930s are also included in this remarkable collection.

Warning carefully amassed the collection concurrently with much of his career at Shell, where at 16 he commenced his training at the company’s technical school. There, he displayed a natural talent and rapidly progressed, becoming a specialist on a variety of machine tools. Next, he was a Maintenance Mechanic at the Shell refinery in Pernis near Rotterdam, where he rose to the role of Maintenance Technician, ending his career as the Head Maintenance Technician.

At 25, Gilles began collecting mostly enamelled signs with a variety of automotive images. However, two years later, he decided to focus exclusively on Shell-branded petroliana. Soon, he expanded his collecting efforts to include a wide variety of other Shell-branded items, including clocks, watches, share certificates, lighters, glasses and even an extremely rare circa-1950 framed photo with a pin-up girl.

While amassing his collection, Gilles visited many auto-related events, including annual trips to Retromobile in Paris, the Retro in Anvers, Belgium’s Chiné Autosalon, the Autosalon in Reims, the Brocante salons in Lille and Tamplay and the Beaulieu Autojumble. In addition, for the past 12 years, he was a regular visitor to Hershey, Pennsylvania, a world-renowned destination for collectors. Over the years, collectors and traders formed relationships with Gilles and routinely held certain items aside for eventual sale to him during their next meeting.

In 2003, Gilles was invited to display a cross-section of his collection during Shell’s centennial celebrations, and there, at the symposium, hundreds of people from all over the world witnessed a sampling of its remarkable depth. Now ready to focus on his other passion, the restoration of pre-1904 antique cars, Gilles has decided to sell his beloved collection as one single group lot, with the hope that it will be purchased by an astute collector possessing both the same drive as Gilles and the space to expose it for future generations to appreciate.

Estimate: $230,214-$306,952

Sporting Classics of Monaco will be held at the Grimaldi Forum during the same weekend as the 7th Grand Prix Historique de Monaco. If unable to attend the event in person, Internet and telephone bidding options are available, and all the auction action will stream live at

Sources: RM Auctions and Jeroen W. Helms

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