There are many references to changes in the design on Zippo lighters. Most people reading this will be fully aware that the first lighters were taller, and that the bottom stamp has changed over the years. Most, if not all the design changes have been minor and the basic concept of a Zippo lighter is the same today as it was in 1933.
When it comes to collecting, I can be quite pedantic, looking for even a minor difference. Zippo seem to make minor design changes every so often and this is what this page is about. I will document here any changes that I discover and try my best to list the date that the change came into place.
Many of the ideas for what to include on this page have come from questions I have been asked by either people emailing me or questions in the Zippo Click forums. So to those who ask and to those who help to find the answer, I would like to say "Thank You".
Change in bottom stamp.
In April 2005 the bottom stamp changed slightly, in that the registered trade mark sign (®) was moved from below Zippo to above it. Some lighters in April were made with the ® at the bottom, and some were made with the ® at the top. Another alteration carried out at the same time was the font used in the bottom line. The easiest way to observe this is to look at the letter "I" in "MADE IN U.S.A. in the earlier version the I has cross lines at the top and bottom whereas in the later version these lines are missing. It should be noted that the new design was previously used on Zippo lighters made between March and December 2000.
An earlier alteration to the bottom stamp took place in 1969. Early 1969 Zippos have the word "Bradford" extending to above the "I" in Zippo, whilst later models have this ending above the "Z". The 'Z' of Zippo acquired a 'tail' and the ® was moved slightly.
"Old" Plastic box.
To the best of my knowledge there were three different "old" style boxes. These are pictured below. I have been told that the right hand box was for lighters distributed from the Canadian plant, but I have many of these boxes with Bradford lighters in them.
Since typing the above paragraph, I have spent a little more time examining these boxes and have now discovered no fewer than 7 variants. I have tried to date each type by the date of the lighter, so this is not necessarily perfect. It should be noted that the type 1 box is a different shape to the others, in that the sides flare out, so that the back of the box is wider than the front. A similar shaped box also exists in cream, although this one has the block text, rather than the script. On types 2 to 7 the sides are at right angles to the front.
|Type 1||Type 2||Type 3||Type 4||Type 5||Type 6|
|Circa 1982||Circa 1982-1986||Circa 1986 - 1998||Circa 1986 - 1998||From Circa 1997||From Circa 1997|
|Type 7||Type 8|
|Canadian||Detail of difference||Detail of difference|
|Types 1 & 8 have "Flared" sides, all the others have parallel sides|
Further differences are evident when the back of the case is examined, some of the later ones having the recycle markings and the positioning of the imprinted text differs.
"New" Plastic box
The "new" plastic box is far easier to deal with, as they are all dated with a manufacturing date. If you turn the box over at the bottom you will see a small "clock face". The clock only has one hand and this points to the month of manufacture. Either side of this hand are numbers that indicate the year. In the picture below the box was made in October 2003.
Looking at the boxes in detail reveals that again there are three different designs, but not as obvious as the ones on the old style boxes. The design change is all about the way the box can be turned into a display stand. I have called the boxes "Type A, B & C" for ease of reference.
I have not yet checked enough of these boxes to come up with definitive dates so the date below should only be used as a guide.
|Type A||Type B||Type C|
|Date Range||06/03 to 12/03||02/04 to 07/04||10/04 Onwards|
On this type of box, the front can be removed and clipped to the back to make a display stand. It is the way the front clips on that is the difference. On Type A boxes there is a "pin hole" approximately ⅓ of the way from the top of the case. This pin hole is where the front of the box is clipped. On the Type B boxes this "pin hole" was moved closer to the top of the box. There were also two ridges added inside the box at the bottom to stop the lighter moving from side to side. On Type C boxes the indent that the front of the box clips into was elongated to accept the front. A final alteration to Type C was the holder for the guarantee. On the earlier boxes this was just 4 tiny clips that did not secure the guarantee papers very well. on Type C boxes one of the clips has been lengthened to better secure the paperwork.
Zippo altered the hinge of lighters from February 2005. The new hinge is slightly narrower. In the photograph below the old hinge is on the left.
Now the next one is where you need to get out your magnifying glass, or perhaps a microscope. Sometime between 1953 and 1957, before the time Zippo made their own flint wheels a batch of wheels appeared where the word ZIPPO was stamped on the edge of the wheel. These wheels have been found on both Pat 2032695 & Pat 2517191 inserts but are very difficult to see as the holder partially obscures the letters. It is not known how many of these were produced or exactly what years, so the date above can only serve as a guide as to which of your inserts to examine.
Whilst these flint wheels are considered rare, it is possibly because no-one is actually looking for them. There could be 100 of these wheels in existence, or there could be 1,000,000
Another minor change in design occurred in August 2003. Inserts made from this date have a small "indentation" at the bottom of the cam. This indentation is on both sides of the cam.