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Zippo Lighters: An American Institution

Updated on February 22, 2014

Zippo Lighters

Is it arguable that no other product, throughout the history of America, has had such an impact upon the American psyche? Indeed, where would America be now, had it not been for the trusty 'Zippo'? This lens focuses on the history of Zippo Lighters, from the formation of the company back in 1932, in Pennsylvania, USA, to the present day.

Originating from Pennsylvania, Bradford, in 1932 during the depression years, the success of 'Zippo' is truly an American dream come true. What was needed during those years, was a product that would be reliable, dependable and trustworthy. A product that would work when you needed it to work. Zippo Lighters became that 'product'.

GEORGE G BLAISDELL

In fact the copyright to 'Zippo' did not belong, at that particular time to the designer. The copyright belonged to an Austrian company who were designing bulky, ugly-looking lighters - which were, quite frankly, useless. It was because of the foresight of George G Blaisdell, who was looking to make some money during the Great Depression that 'Zippo' became so entrenched within the American psyche.

He wanted to produce something that was low-priced but, at the same time, reliable. And the lighters were just the thing he was looking for. The original lighters designed by the Austrian company were no good, so Blaisdell, bought the copyright from the Austrian manufacturer and then set to work.

He wanted to improve the appearance of the lighter and decided upon a completely new lid - which would be chrome-plated. He tried to sell the lighters for one dollar, but they didn't sell at all. Minor faults in the design meant that he had to ditch all of the defective lighters and begin again.

THE CREATION OF ZIPPO

Renting the 2nd floor of the Rickerson & Pryde Inc. building for ten dollars a month, he then hired three people. Blaisdell then set about purchasing second-hand instruments to help him design the lighters. He purchased an electric hot plate, a punch press and a welder.

Everything he bought was second-hand. However, he was absolutely determined that his product would not fail this time. The tools that he purchased in order to re-design the lighters, came to the sum of exactly $260.00. And, it was from the use of those tools that an American Institution was born.

Blaisdell made the lighter so that it was comfortable to hold, smaller, and would fit in the palm of the hand. He introduced a hinge, connected between the lid and the body [which gave all Zippo Lighters from then on, that familiar clicking sound when opened and closed.]

This meant that the user of the lighter could now open the lid with one hand only, by just the flick of his thumb. He then designed a wind hood and placed this around the wick. This meant that the flame would not go out, no matter what the weather.

Finally, he then named his product 'ZIPPO'. The original 'Zippos' first appeared in 1932, and since then they have gone from strength to strength. They have been a major part of American history during the 2nd World War and the Vietnam War. They have a very close association also, with the American Space Agency, NASA, and a very special relationship with their customers.

CUSTOMER CARE

Each customer, from 1932 onwards on purchasing a 'Zippo', has received a Guarantee Lifetime Certificate. Which means that theoretically, the product should work for life. If it should break down, they promise to repair it. If it cannot be repaired, they replace it, with another 'Zippo' - usually within another gift box too. This is the customer care that all those in business should take note off.

Zippo Lighters have been engraved upon, by U.S soldiers, in the past, making them more 'personal' to the owner. They have had poetry carved into the chrome, and various designs added too. Each carving/design making the 'Zippo', personal to the owner - and, also giving just a hint of individuality.

They have even been used to advertise other products and events on their casing. Sports teams, cigarette brands, drink brands, all kinds of things have been advertised upon a 'Zippo'. Indeed, they became a miniature salesman in the pocket. It was because of this ability to be able to sell other products, as well, as being a quality product in their own right, that 'Zippo' became legendary.

Zippo Lighters, I feel, have stood the test of time, and have really become an icon of American history from 1932 onwards. This is why I love them, and have continued to admire them through the years.

Zippo Lighters

An American Institution

In Pennsylvania, USA, at the Bradford Country Club, in 1932, a company was formed that would go on to become an American institution. Little did George G Blaisdell - the inventor of the product - realize, that because of his foresight, the company would thrive. Not only would it thrive during the 'depression years', but it would go on to become an integral part of American Society - and a very important part of American history.

Today, on this lens, I will show you a variety of Zippo Lighters. Lighters that have become more than what they were meant to be. Their durability and functionality is legendary. As is their mute recording of American history. Not only that, but they were, and still are used as 'pocket salesmen' - promoting everything from sports products, to cars and sports teams upon their casing.

When purchasing a Zippo Lighter you can be sure that you are getting the best in mechanical, miniature design. Not only that but each Zippo comes with its now, famous, 'Lifetime Guarantee'. Zippo Lighters have now become, 'collectors items'. and very rare ones can fetch hundreds - if not, thousands of dollars.

Zippo Lighters - An American Institution

A collection of Zippo Lighters for you to purchase.

Zippo Crown Stamp Lighter
Zippo Crown Stamp Lighter

This lighter is absolutely stunning. The design, is what I, and many other fans of Zippo, have come to expect from the company.

Chrome all over, and with that distinctive click when you open and close the lid, this lighter is made with love and care.

The engraving on this Zippo is stunning, as it is buffeted. Truly a work of art is what it is, and that is exactly what any purchaser of this Zippo will get. Looking at it close up you will really appreciate the artwork that has gone into this lighter.

I am about to purchase this Zippo myself soon, as I am going to build up my collection of Zippo Lighters.

This one is high on the list..As usual, Zippo offers a Lifetime Guarantee to all purchasers of Zippo Lighters.

I recommend you purchase the fuel Zippo Lighter Fluid - this is not sold with this lighter - for long-lasting use.

One of the best Zippos on the market, by a mile. Any fan and/or collector of Zippo Lighters would be proud to own this one.

 
Zippo Brushed Chrome Pocket Lighter
Zippo Brushed Chrome Pocket Lighter

No design on this lighter, but once again, it is beautiful. Brushed chrome is what you get here. With that distinctive click when you open and close the lid.

It also has all the things I have come to expect from Zippo Lighters. A design that is windproof and will work in any weather conditions..

You will also get the famous 'Lifetime Guarantee' that comes with all Zippo products. This Zippo comes within its own gift box too. A wonderful item to own.

 
Zippo Pocket Lighter, Black Matte
Zippo Pocket Lighter, Black Matte

This Zippo, reminds me of the time when U.S soldiers use to use Zippos which were all black, during the 2nd World War.

This Zippo is a throwback to those days. The all-black Zippo reminds collectors of a time in which steel was a rare commodity, and in which low quality steel had to be used instead.

Of course, with this Zippo, only the best steel is used now.

This item does not come within a display box, but you do get the famous 'Lifetime Guarantee' that Zippo offers all their customers.

The flints on this Zippo, are also replaceable. Not bad at all, for a quality product as good as Zippo.

 
Zippo Street Chrome Pocket Lighter
Zippo Street Chrome Pocket Lighter

This Zippo comes inside its own gift box. It is chrome [the chrome being brushed] . This gives the lighter, I feel, a 'classical' look. Again, you will get a Lifetime Guarantee, and the flints are replaceable.

 
zippo Lighter Fluid, 12 oz.
zippo Lighter Fluid, 12 oz.

Always go for Zippo Lighter Fluid. Nothing less will do. It stands to reason that if you purchase a quality product, then use only quality products for it.

 

Rare and Collectible - Zippo Lighters

A collection of beautiful Zippo Lighters for you to watch.

Zippo Lighters - An American Institution

This clip shows all owners of Zippo Lighters how to replace a worn wick.

Zippo Lighters - Are They The Best You Have Ever Used?

This module asks whether Zippo Lighters are the best you have ever used? Or is there another make of lighter you are loyal too?

Are Zippo Lighters the best you have ever used?

Zippo Collection

A collection of Zippo Lighters for your enjoyment.

Zippo Lighters - An American Institution

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Any design or pattern you can imagine can be engraved upon your Zippo.Zippo, reliable in any weather conditions for when you need them.Just look at the way these Zippos have been designedThe design in this Zippo is wonderfulNames, images, even pieces of poetry can be engraved upon your ZippoZippo and Jack Daniels, two of the most iconic brands of AmericaLooking for a leather pouch to keep your Zippo secured?Ace of Spades Zippo
Any design or pattern you can imagine can be engraved upon your Zippo.
Any design or pattern you can imagine can be engraved upon your Zippo.
Zippo, reliable in any weather conditions for when you need them.
Zippo, reliable in any weather conditions for when you need them.
Just look at the way these Zippos have been designed
Just look at the way these Zippos have been designed
The design in this Zippo is wonderful
The design in this Zippo is wonderful
Names, images, even pieces of poetry can be engraved upon your Zippo
Names, images, even pieces of poetry can be engraved upon your Zippo
Zippo and Jack Daniels, two of the most iconic brands of America
Zippo and Jack Daniels, two of the most iconic brands of America
Looking for a leather pouch to keep your Zippo secured?
Looking for a leather pouch to keep your Zippo secured?
Ace of Spades Zippo
Ace of Spades Zippo

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    • wleon63 profile image
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      wleon63 4 years ago

      @takkhisa: Thank you my friend. I do appreciate you reading and 'liking' my lens. Yes, there are plenty of 'Zippos' to choose from if you are after a 'Zippo'

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      Nice lens! I would like to have one of these Zippo lighters :)

    • wleon63 profile image
      Author

      wleon63 4 years ago

      @stephen downing: Thank you for reading my friend. I am happy you enjoyed the article. Thanks again.

    • stephen downing profile image

      stephen downing 4 years ago

      Very interesting, thank you

    • wleon63 profile image
      Author

      wleon63 4 years ago

      @maryseena: Thank you for reading and commenting, my friend. Truly appreciate it.

    • wleon63 profile image
      Author

      wleon63 4 years ago

      @maryseena: Thank you for reading and commenting, my friend. Truly appreciate it.

    • maryseena profile image

      maryseena 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing the history of Zippo!