You can bank on it, the popularity of Sinclair’s dinosaur mascot has not wavered over the years.
First introduced and registered as a trademark in 1932, the Brontosaurus (now referred to as the Apatosaurus) was chosen to indicate the age of the fossils that created crude oils used today. While other dinosaurs from the Mesozoic period were considered, the Brontosaurus, as a herbivore, was seen as more friendly than those dinosaurs bearing teeth and claws.
Named Dino (pronounced Dy-no, unlike the Flintstones cartoon pet dinosaur Dino, pronounced Dee-no), the first life-size model was created for the 1934 Century of Progress exhibition in Chicago by P.G. Alen for a display about crude oil extraction sponsored by Sinclair Oil.
The Sinclair Oil and Refining Company was founded by Harry Ford Sinclair (1876-1956) following some successful investments in the Oklahoma oil fields. Sinclair, at the time, was declared the “Richest Man in Kansas,” having graduated from the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy years prior.
As a mascot, Dino has wavered from a more realistic version to a cartoon version, such as the balloon that appeared in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from 1963-1976. A new balloon was produced for parade appearances in 2015.
A new life-size model of Dino, with eight additional Mesozoic dinosaurs, was introduced at the 1964 World’s Fair in a display that mimicked the type of environment the dinosaurs would have roamed. The popular display was later mounted on trailers and made appearances at shopping malls and other outdoor venues across the country. Today, the Brontosaurus resides at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Tx.
The plastic Dino bank was only available at Sinclair Oil service stations, a free promotional item given to encourage patrons to stop and have their tanks filled with Sinclair brand gasolines. While the blow-molded dinosaur has a slit on top to accept coins, there is no easy way to remove them, other than shaking and prying them out – the Eisenhower Dollar Coin, introduced in 1971, clearly does not fit the coin slot.
With no markings to indicate or promote the company that sponsored it, the bank also makes a great toy or just a fun item to display on a shelf.