This page is a general guide to the earliest Zippo lighters. During the early years of the company many minor alterations and test models were made. The first lighters made by Zippo were much squarer than those seen today as originally the lighter cases were made from tubing with the base soldered on. They were also taller than the current models. The “Canned bottom” where the base of the lighter is indented first appeared in The lighters above were made from a rectangular tube, with the bases soldered on. Early Zippo lighters command a high price and are difficult to obtain. Building a collection of these would therefore take a considerable amount of both time and money.
How Old Is Your Zippo Lighter?
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As with most collectibles, the date of manufacture of a Zippo lighter often affects its value. Valuable information on the bottom of every Zippo windproof lighter can help you determine its date of manufacture. The original purpose was for quality control.
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Photo courtesy of Zippo Manufacturing Company. Below that is a pint-sized image of the pointy-nosed spy-versus-spy guy from the Mad magazine comic. The fact is that Zippos are much more than simple metal cigarette lighters. The ubiquitous Zippo, engraved in-country, became woven into the fabric of the Vietnam War experience. The humble Zippo was born in , when George G. Blaisdell, whose Pennsylvania oil business was foundering as the Great Depression put a chokehold on the world economy, designed a small silver-colored rectangular cigarette lighter with a hinged top.
A few years later the Zippo Manufacturing Company began engraving words and images on its lighters, primarily as marketing tools for other businesses. The company hit the big time in World War II when—like many other American manufacturers—it stopped making consumer items and produced its lighters for the U. From to , every Zippo made was shipped directly to post exchanges and Navy ships around the world.
Millions of Zippos were carried into battle by American troops across the globe. They were a huge hit—an essential tool in the days when a high percentage of Americans, especially young men, saw smoking as a harmless and satisfying recreation—one that advertisements often even touted as having healthful benefits. Indeed, cigarettes were distributed to the troops by the Red Cross.
How to Tell a Zippo From a Rippo
Fake zippo’s. In Japanese businessmen came in Vietnam to spend a good time with hot girls. A Chinese merchant with extensive connections in the Saigon Government was able to get “concessions” and controlled much of the actual lighter business. He has discovered the attractive appeal of the Zippo to the tourist looking for the exotic. The more the sentence engraved into the lighter was bawdy, more they bought it.
The date coding on Zippo lighters was introduced in late , so lighters made after this date are very easy to identify. Earlier lighters are much more difficult to date accurately. I am going to start with the last undated lighter as this is the easiest to date. This lighter was made between and and is identifiable by what is known as the “Full Stamp”. The base has three lines of text and is the only uncoded version to carry the Patent Number This page contains details of how I set about dating these lighters and contains valuable information as to what to look for.
Zippo Dating Codes
As for chrome or nickel was impossible to use for plating the steel cases, early Zippo lighters started to corrode from humidity. The letter from Mr. Blaisdell was send to retailers nationwide describing the new finish as crinkly. In addition to that the history of the Zippo Manufacturing Company is inseparably connected to Ernie Pyle. Blaisdell reporting the G. Blaisdell started sending him about 50 to Zippo lighters a month for free in order to promote his product by Mr.
Zippo does not use the information the same way collectors do. They use the markings for quality control so it is irrelevant to them if they match. They NORMALY.
Anyone who owns a Zippo can attest to this. Those made for the U. Embassies abroad are unique in that they are not mass-produced for the public but made for only that particular embassy. As time passes, and fewer are made, they become more valuable. The lighters made for the U. All the lighters are dated on the bottom, and as time goes on and the designs change you will find your collection is not only one of joy, but of value.
Dating old zippo lighters
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The insert of a Zippo pipe lighter is exactly the same size as the Some lighters produced between were date coded; however, specifics remain.
Zippo , Zippo Manufacturing Company ,. Zippo date codes. From the date codes for slim lighters has been the same as the regular size lighters. Many of the early hinges were replaced, as have been some later ones, so the hinge barrel count is not always absolutely accurate as it is possible a repair replacement has been made. This is an exclusive excerpt from Zippo debuts 80th anniversary lighters in.. In , the dot and slash date code methods were replaced with Roman numerals representing the year and letters of the alphabet representing the month of production.
Were proud to celebrate our 80 year milestone alongside our customers and collectors worldwide, with the introduction these limited edition collectibles. Zippo Canada opened in August and was the only place, other than Bradford, where Zippo lighters were produced. The date code has since become an invaluable tool for Zippo collectors.