Last February when the temperatures reached 60, my wife and I traveled to a property in Methuen to metal detect. Amazingly, the ground had not yet frozen and we were actually walking around in short sleeves!

That day we recovered many coins and relics we were familiar with, but one item surprised us because we had never seen it before. It was made of some kind of metal, at first thought copper, and was the size of a U.S. silver dollar. Unearthed in the middle of nowhere, it was about 6 to 8 inches deep and was recovered with our Garrett AT Gold detector, one of six detectors in our collection. When first pulled from the hole, it was dirty and oxidized. Using a wood toothpick, we gradually cleaned off the item and the words “HYVIS” appeared with “Motor Oils” at the bottom. We knew it was a token, but who or what is HYVIS? When we got home that day, the history began to flow like the product that it was advertising.

HYVIS Motor Oils was founded in 1882 by Fred G. Clark in Cleveland, Ohio. Its headquarters was in Cleveland from 1882 until 1932 with many retail and production locations across the U.S. In ’32, the company moved its headquarters to Warren, Pennsylvania, which continued operation until going out of business in 1939. Their slogan was “Mileage Metered” lubricants, 100% pure. In their heavier oils, one would find a complete line of automotive lubricants in which a finished, more highly refined motor oil was used. The company praised itself on its Mileage Metered chart, telling you how often you should change and lubricate your automobile. As a “token” of good will, the company implemented a free token-printed Mileage Chart with the purchase of the product. Many customers kept the token close at hand and followed the chart to a tee. It’s exactly what the company hoped many would do, pouring heavy funds into its advertising slogan.

In the later years, with the advancement of technology and strong competition, the company continued the Mileage Chart advertising, but also incorporated new slogans like, “That’s the oil I depend on,” using actresses to pose with vehicles and the HYVIS Motor Oil signs.

With the start of World War II in 1939, HYVIS saw their company sales plumet along with their employees leaving to fight the war. That August would mark the end of the Pennsylvania oil company and leave HYVIS to the history books as one of the greatest refined lubrications of its time.

The HYVIS token I recovered is made of brass, not copper. The front reads, “Mileage Metered – HYVIS – Motor Oils” with a moving “O” symbol referring to oil. The obverse has a cross with four slices of a pie explaining the Mileage Metered chart. The first slice reads, “For Mileage in 3 Figures up to 999 Miles use HYVIS 3”; the second slice says, “For Mileage in 4 Figures 1000-9999 use HYVIS 4”; the third says, “For Mileage in 5 Figures 100000 – 30000 use HYVIS 5” and finally the last slice: “For Mileages Over 30000 use HYVIS 6.”

This is why we love metal detecting! You just never know what you are going to find. Until this year, we had never heard of HYVIS Motor Oil. Sure, we know of brands like Mobile and Quaker State, but unless we unearthed that token, we – and now you – would have never learned the history behind it!

I’m certain collectors and car enthusiasts have seen the vintage signs or maybe even the token. But for those of us blind to the past, it’s fun to dig up old history and educate ourselves with an antique memory of America.

Methuen father/son treasure hunters Steve and Jonathan Stewart were the August 2019 MethuenLife cover story. They run YouTube, Facebook and Instagram accounts called Mass Metal Detecting and have followers around the globe. They love to save history and enjoy talking about it. If you’d like to invite them to your property for a hunt, you may be included in a future article! Please drop them a note via