Vintage Zippo Cigarette Lighters
Vintage Zippo cigarette lighters are refillable, metal lighters produced by the American company Zippo Manufacturing Company.
History & Description
The Zippo Manufacturing Company was founded by George G. Blaisdell in 1932 in Bradford, Pennsylvania. Their first lighter was produced in 1933 and was inspired by a similarly designed cigarette lighter from Austria. Blaisdell was granted his first lighter patent on March 3rd 1936.
Since they were first introduced seven decades ago, thousands of different designs and styles have been introduced. Perhaps the most collectible examples are lighters that were made specifically for the military and specific regiments. During World War II, Zippo halted its production for consumer markets and dedicated all manufacturing to the U.S. military.
During the Vietnam War, it became popular among soldiers to engrave their Zippos with personalised mottos, division insignias and unit crests.
The company name comes from the fact that Blaisdell liked the sound of the word “zipper” and decided that “zippo” sounded more modern.
Guide for collectors
Vintage Zippo cigarette lighters are extremely popular and there is a large and established community of collectors. There are numerous websites that are a great resource for collectors as they provide comprehensive information on prices, individual products and how to maintain or restore vintage items.
A few good examples include; I Collect Zippo, Zippo Mania and the official Zippo website.
Vintage Zippo lighters are commonly sold through national and international auction houses and are also frequently advertised on eBay.
Notable auction sales
On April 25th 2012, a rare Zippo in its original box, circa 1930s, was sold on eBay for $3,685.99.
On March 30th 2012 at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, three Zippo cigarette lighters that once belonged to John Wayne, circa 1950s, realised a price of $2,600.
On April 26th 2012, a 14K gold Zippo cigarette lighter, circa 1958, was sold on eBay for $2,500.
On July 17th 2008 at Christie’s in New York, a gold plated Zippo cigarette lighter that once belonged to James Brown realised a price of $2,000.
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