In the early 1930s, George Grand Blaisdell witnessed an elegant gentleman to withdraw a ugly heavy cigarette lighter and light a cigarette. Intrigued, he asked the man why not combine the lighter with the costumes aristocratic, and received an answer very simple: “Because this works here!”. Short answer, inspiration for a product that keeps the status icon until today: the Zippo lighter.
I do not smoke, but the design of a good lighter attracts me a lot. I don’t know if it is within the ideology sobrevivencialista EDC, and all that idea to load some specific items during your day, or if it is more ancestral. Have a lighter it is important to ensure the ability to make fire if you need to. We know how the discovery of fire changed the life of man.
The history of Zippo
The entrepreneur George Blaisdell was looking for a new business idea to get out of the abyss that was the Great Depression. Inspired, he came in contact with the manufacturer of lighters, the austrian that such a heavy product and bought the distribution rights in the United States.
Later, it was decided to redesign the product with particular specifications. He wanted that one hand is enough to operate your cigarette lighter socket. Rather than securing the wick and the fuel with a removable cover, has developed a hinge that keeps the lid fixed with the help of a spring. Just a movement with the thumb to open the lighter at the sound of the “click” registered trademark.
Blaisdell also put a shield around the wick of cloth soaked by the fluid flammable. The protective system that resembles a lamp gave the lighter the fame of the race of the wind. When lit, the flame hardly goes out.
The first model was launched in 1932 with the name Zippo. It was a kind of homage to another brand-new invention, the zips. The creator was so confident that he put a lifetime warranty on the product. Until today, the Zippo restore any lighter for free.
The first Consequence had the edges more sharp and were not as comfortable to hold or carry in the pocket. A few years later, the edges were rounded. The design was more smooth, and the hinge outer was to the inside of the lid, where its edges do not bother.
The light that guided Blaisdell out of the dark tunnel of Depression was literally the flame of a Zippo lighter. This invention is very practical and was an immediate success in the american market.
The Zippo lighter black of the Second World War
The United States entered the War after the attack on Pearl Habour in December 1941. The country directed the production lines of all the factories for the war effort.
Use brass or chrome to make lighters no longer be a possibility. Both metals were rationed for the manufacture of munitions. Blaisdell responded quickly.
Zippo began selling the so-called “Black Crackle Consequence”, made with sheets of steel covered by black plastic to protect them from corrosion. This version became standard for the US Army, and each GI received one.
The lighters had great importance in the conflict because of the durability and ease of light during the battles. The flames resisted the wind, and they could be used with only one hand. Were used to light cigarettes, heat up soups in the helmets, or just open path in the middle of the darkness.
Many of the soldiers customized their Consequence, scratching their names or other messages on the plastic cover. The brand recognized the potential of this idea, and began to offer personalized recordings for those who pay. After the Second World War, the lighters Consequence established as a popular media for advertisements of businesses large and small throughout the decade of the 1960s.
The fact that millions of american military used the cigarette lighter on the fields of battle has fuelled the image of the product, which has become a kind of american icon in the world. In the 1950s, galãs as James Dean and Humphrey Bogart were a charm, and pose evil with a Zippo lighter in the hands. The icon followed strong in Hollywood, from Frank Sinatra to George Clooney.
The Zippo was followed as a standard item of Army of the USA. In the Vietnam War, the cigarette lighter marked turned into a personal statement. With their messages scratched, ranging from declarations of war to scraps frivolous, became coveted collector’s items, with prices quite high.
Even being considered a legend of design, he is not a product that has been created with the visual in mind. The form was the result of an evolution driven by functional requirements. Today, Zippo has launched a new collection of lighters each year, and is still firm with its lifetime warranty!
How to date your Zippo lighter
Like all collectible, Zippo has some details that they value more or less the product. The largest of them, is the date of manufacture.
Find the age of a Zippo lighter is not such a difficult task. The newer ones are even more easy, thanks to print system date in the process of manufacture from the year 2000. To lighters made before, there are a few different codes and you need to follow some simple steps to determine the date of manufacture.
- Even without the date code, most lighters fabricated between 1933 and 1957 can also be identified by style or spelling of the brand below it. Check out the seal on the bottom of the lighter. Those manufactured before 1937 have the phrase “Pat. Pending”, because the first model patented was only produced later. If the seal is written Patent 2032695, means that the lighter was manufactured in 1937.
- Check out the seal at the base of the lighter. If the seal display the phrase “Black Crackle Patent 203695” it is because the cigarette lighter was manufactured between 1949 and 1957. If the message “Patent 2517191” is recorded in the central part of the base of the lighter, means that its manufacture took place between 1951 and 1957.
- Look for other marks on the bottom of the lighter. The Consequence has some markup since the 1950s. The original goal was the control of quality, but the series of numbers that became an invaluable tool for collectors. Those manufactured between 1957 and 1965 have between one and four points on each side of the lighter. Those that were manufactured between 1966 and 1972 have between one and four vertical lines engraved on each side of its base. Between 1974 and 1981, the Zippo used bars on the sides of the base of the lighter to mark the date of manufacture.Between 1982 and 1986 were used backslashes.
- Read the letters and numbers written at the base of the lighter. Note that a combination of letters and numerals indicates that the cigarette lighter was manufactured between 1986 and 2000. The letters “A” through “L” followed by a two-digit number indicate the manufacture of the lighter occurred between 2001 and 2010.
- The system dates of the most current uses one letter and two digits to identify the month and year of manufacture. The letters a-L represent the month (A for January, B for February, etc.). The two digits correspond to the production year (14 for 2014)
- The visual of the word “Zippo” stamped on the bottom of the lighter is another clue. The brand has gone through three changes, as in the picture below. From 1933 until the mid 50’s the word Zippo was stamped in uppercase letters. The logo more light appeared around 1955. At the end of the 70’s, the logo was redesigned, but was only built in the stamp in 1980.
- The number of hinges in the lid of the lighter also helps to determine the age, but as the first Consequence they failed a lot on the cover, many of the originals were replaced. This detail is not always so reliable but it can be combined with others to ask questions.
- External hinges with 3 partitions: 1932 – 1935
- External hinges with 4 partitions: 1936 – 1937
- Hinges built with 4 partitions: 1936 – 1943
- Hinges are built with 3 partitions:1943 – 1948
- Hinges built with 5 dividers:1948 – current
- External hinges with 5 dividers: replicas of the 1932 and 193
- Holes in the chimney
- 16 (8 each side) – 1933 – 1934
- 14 (7 each side) – 1935 – 1946
- 16 (8 each side) – 1947 onwards
Records are available at the bottom of each lighter make possible the identification of the Consequence since the 1930’s, making them the present vintage ideal. There are few objects of daily use that can awaken the attention of collectors. The originals are sold for several thousands of dollars!
Where To Buy Zippo Lighter
First of all, not be what you’re looking for a piece of collector’s product or a really vintage, I advise you to buy direct on the website of Zippo or any authorized distributor. You can pay a little more, but you are guaranteed to be receiving a quality piece.
In Brazil it is not difficult to find, you know? The Zippo is super common. On the internet, I found some templates in the Free Market, in the World Zippo lighters and Pure Zippo. The website Vintage Garage has a few lighters a little more unique and up to the old ones.
If you want something different, perhaps old, but not necessarily a vintage special, I recommend looking at Etsy, a site that is excellent for panning. You can spend hours following the trail of the recommended pages!
Another tip is always a very good is to look on eBay. Try searching for “vintage-consequence” or some specific time, such as “viet nam consequence” or “WWII Consequence”, for example. In both cases, be aware of the details of the product, and do not be afraid to ask. You can also use aggregators that make a filter prior auction interesting, as the web site Collectors Weekly.
Further, it must gather and keep eye on trade fairs and thrift stores, because they always appear. In the United States and other countries more connected to this culture collectibles you will get more difficulty to find I found it for a bargain forgotten somewhere.
It is possible to have much more luck in Brazil, especially in those fairs despretenchisas and thrift stores that do not have specialization. When the “tent” at the fair belongs to a guy more specialized, you may have to negotiate. At the fair Benedito Calixto, in São Paulo, many collectors sell lighters of various brands for high prices, because they are always items good to collect.
If you are not a smoker and want to carry a lighter to be prepared, they are not your best choice. In addition to the larger and relatively heavy, also lose fuel more easily if they are stopped for long periods of time.
A simple BIC of these that we bought in any shop works perfectly if this is the goal, but neither compares to the look and the appeal of the collector. Independent of models and choices, have a lighter in your backpack or pocket is always important!
Now, for those who smoke, the Zippo seems to me a ritual. You just need to replenish your fuel week on week, and from what I hear, not caring for the taste of fuel in the first few puffs of her cigarette. In fact, the smell does not seem to be a problem: it simply became part of the experience.
For me, the simple design is unbeatable. To collect then? The rich history and the amount of variety is a full plate for a good treasure hunt.
The Zippo has been tested in every situation imaginable. I can not imagine how many fires they lit. Were good enough on the beaches of Normandy and Iwo Jima. Were good enough in the green hell of Vietnam. Work to fish in Alaska, and you decide on the oil platforms in the Atlantic. Are always good enough, and work.