How to identify vintage Zippo lighters and celebrate their 80th anniversary in 2012

Date and Patent codes are key to dating vintage Zippo lighters

vintage zippo lighter how to identify vintage zippo lightersGeorge Grant Blaisdell established Zippo in October 1932 in Bradford, Pa., and the first Zippo lighter was produced in January 1933.

Blaisdell had date codes imprinted on the bottom of the lighter cases. These codes provided him with the date of manufacture, should a defect be found, allowing him to maintain records of repairs. Fortunately, those date codes are a tremendous help today in the ability of collectors to correctly identify the year any given Zippo lighter was made.

Other factors for dating early and vintage Zippo lighters are their height and shape, the number of barrels on the hinge and the case’s material. Inserts can also be dated by their material, number of holes in the chimney, flint wheel style, cam style and markings.

Very quickly, you can determine a broad age of a Zippo lighter based on the three major changes to the style of the word “Zippo” imprinted on the bottom of the lighter. The “Block” Zippo was used from 1933 to 1954; it was changed to the “Script” Zippo in 1955, and the “Flaming i” began in 1980.

Pat. Pending was stamped from 1933 until the end of 1936, when it was replaced with Pat. 2032695. Pat. 2517191 was stamped from late 1953 until 1967.
Date codes appeared as early as 1955, and the dating system was fully in effect by 1959. Before 1959, dating Zippo lighters can be a bit tricky, as the exact placement of the words must be taken into consideration. We’ve provided examples of what we believe to be the correct bottom codes for those tricky years. Again, placement of the wording, the material the case is made of and the number of barrels on the hinge play key factors in dating earlier Zippo lighters.

In 1986, 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.
In 2001, the last two digits of the year were used along with the same letters for the months, and that system continues today.

Slim Zippo lighters were introduced in 1956 and had no date code on the bottom of the lighter. Slims were first marked in 1957. From 1957 through 1965, slims had different bottom date codes than did regular size Zippo lighters. Beginning in 1966, the same markings were used on both the slim and regular. In 2002, the holes in the chimney of slim lighters were enlarged.

Dating Zippo lighters produced in Canada from 1950 until 1986 is difficult due to the lack of date coding. The bottom stamps shown here generally provide for time spans.

This is an exclusive excerpt from Antique Trader Antiques & Collectibles 2012 Price Guide

Zippo debuts 80th anniversary lighters in 2012

Enter the Antique Trader Treasure Hunt online sweepstakes Jan. 1-31 for your chance to win an 80th Anniversary Zippo lighter and a Warman’s Zippo Lighter Field Guide.

BRADFORD, Pa. – Zippo Manufacturing Co., maker of the world-famous windproof pocket lighter, marks its 80th anniversary in January with a series of limited edition lighters and a four ounce can of genuine Zippo lighter fluid.

“Since 1932, this company has been steadfast in regard to one principle that was laid down by our founder, George G. Blaisdell – ‘build your product with integrity, stand behind it 100 percent, and success will follow’,” said Greg Booth, Zippo president and CEO.

“We’re proud to celebrate our 80 year milestone alongside our customers and collectors worldwide, with the introduction these limited edition collectibles.”

For additional information visit Zippo’s 80th Anniversary Collection.

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