Site hosted by Angelfire.com: Build your free website today!

Zippo Frequently Asked Questions

What's so special about Zippo cigarette lighters? 

How do people collect Zippos?

Aren’t most Zippo collectors smokers?

Are Zippos good investments?

How can I tell if a Zippo is fake?

How are Zippos valued?

How can I tell how old a Zippo is?

Where can I find Zippos?


What is so special about Zippo cigarette lighters? 

The “Zippo” (a trade mark of the Zippo Manufacturing Company) has been around for 70 years.  Its smooth surface is a perfect canvass, its adornments reflecting places, organizations, objects, events, art and people. Its mechanism, functionality, reliability, durability and engravings are a reflection of America’s ingenuity, culture, society, history and values.  For some people, collecting is a passion, and it is hoped that this website will spark the passion of the novice and seasoned Zippo fan.


How do people collect Zippos?

There are 1000’s of different designs on Zippos.  Since it is not practicable to collect everything, most people select niches, or “themes” within the universe of available Zippo lighters to collect. 

The possible collector themes are endless, and recent events can impact the desirability of certain themes.  For instance, the death of Dale Earnhardt  increased the interest in Nascar themes; 9/11 made pre 9/11 images of the World Trade Center special.

In general, the selection themes are determined by an individual’s level of interest and affordability.  In general:

As in most areas of collecting, "advanced" means  more time and money is spent by the collector.

Of course most collectors do have several collector “themes”.  Zippo collecting is international, and \there are probably as many or more “hard core” Zippo collectors abroad than there are in the US.  Zippo also produces special editions and themes for the Japanese and European markets, which offer the collector even more choices.


Aren’t most Zippo collectors smokers?

Most people associate Zippos with cigarettes and smoking and some people think of Zippos and other smoking paraphernalia as dirty and unhealthy. Yet most collectors are non-smokers.  Even the collectors that do smoke do not use their collectible Zippos as lighters because they do not want them to be damaged.  A collectible Zippo is usually clean, free of fluid and the flint is usually removed since its disintegration can damage the Zippo over time.

Whether a Zippo or a Bic is a better cigarette lighter is largely irrelevant to the Zippo collector.  The Zippo is a piece of art, or a piece of history, or a memento to be treated with respect.


Are Zippos good investments?

The value of vintage Zippos in good condition with interesting designs tend to increase over time.  Some contemporary themes, such as Camel Zippos, Hard Rock Café Zippos, artistic Zippos or lighters used in recent movie productions command high prices.  Rare Zippos sell for many thousands of dollars.

Because of the high values of some Zippos, fake or “doctored” Zippos have emerged.  Doctored Zippos are lighters which have been engraved, modified or improved by parties other than the Zippo Manufacturing Company following production.  Some jewelers or engravers are quite skilled at taking older Zippos and “improving” their appearance and perceived value in some way.  Fake Zippos (not produced by Zippo Manufacturing Company) are more common in Europe and Asia than they are in the US, but this is changing with .  Fake or “improved” Zippos can be collectible in their own right, but a collector should be careful to make sure that a lighter is what it appears to be before “investing” in it.

As in any area of collecting, it is a knowledge game.  Knowledge will help the collector avoid problem Zippos.   Occasionally knowledge enables a collector to pick up an old Zippo for $20 or so in an antique store or flea market only to turn around and sell it on ebay for several hundreds of dollars.  Buying something low that can be sold high is a good investment.


How can I tell if a Zippo is fake?

Most fake and doctored Zippos can be identified as such by an experienced collector or dealer.  Where there is uncertainty, careful examination and comparison to a know authentic Zippo helps a lot.  A magnifying glass is highly recommended.Zippo Manufacturing Company’s Collector Club can provide some help.  Fellow Zippo collectors or dealers can help shed light on the authenticity of any particular Zippo.  There are also some excellent Japanese and European websites as well as books that provide excellent information to help determine authenticity.

In general, if it doesn't seem right or is too good to be true, then it probably isn't.


How are Zippos valued?

Factors that affect values are:

Ultimately, the value of a Zippo is based on a combination of these factors.


How can I tell how old a Zippo is?

There are a number of websites that provide excellent dating information.  A quick and easy one is Smokerstuff.com's Zippo Lighter Identification Codes.  An excellent resource is the book “Zippo, The Great American Lighter” by David Poore.   In general, dating of the standard Zippo is determined as follows:

1933

Readily distinguishable by a flat bottom, square corners and its tall size. It is 2 7/16” tall, ¼ taller than later models.

1934-36

Flat bottom, square corners and outside hinge

1936-37

Flat bottom, square corners and inside hinge

1938-45

Rounded bottom and rounded corners.

1946-53

Canned bottom, Pat # 2032695

1953-55

Canned bottom, Pat #2517191 with centered ®

1955-65

Canned bottom, Stylized “Zippo”, dating “dots”

1966-73

Dating determined by number of vertical lines

1974-81

Dating determined by number of slashes

1982-86

Dating determined by number of backslashes

1987-99

Dating determined by roman numeral system

2000-

Year of manufacture inscribed on the bottom.

 

The Zippos prior to 1953 can be quite difficult to date, requiring attention to be paid not only on the case markings but to the type of metal (brass or steel), the number of barrels, markings the insert, number of chimney holes, teeth of the flint wheels etc.

Determining the date of vintage Zippos with exactitude is a whole area of endeavor that only serves to add to the mystique of the Zippo.


Where can I find Zippos?

Grandparents, uncles and aunts may have old Zippos tucked away from days of yore.  Just a mention of an interest in Zippo collecting will often cause  a Zippo to appear from an attic, an old trunk or a desk drawer.  Aside from such windfalls, Zippos can be found in places such as:

 

 

Look at the time and date on the status bar.

>

 

<