Frequently Asked Questions
Since starting my website I have received numerous emails with questions on Zippo Lighters. I have therefore decided to add this page with the most common questions pre-answered. If you have a question that is not answered here, please feel free to contact me by email and I will do my best to answer.
Are all Zippos Made in Bradford PA?
The answer is now yes. However some Zippo lighters were assembled in Canada between 1949 & 2002. Details of the Canadian plant can be found here. Authorised Zippo distributors in other countries receive plain Zippos direct from Bradford and engrave designs onto them specifically for that country.
How old is my lighter?
The answer is on the bottom of the lighter. All lighters since 1955 have carried a date code. In order to decipher the code the first thing you need to know is where the lighter was assembled. If the base is stamped Niagara Falls, look here, If the base is stamped Bradford PA, look here
When did Zippo start to make lighters?
The first Zippo lighters were made in 1933. For further information look here
Why do some lighters have orange stickers on the back?
For legal reasons, all lighters manufactured for the US domestic market must have the orange warning labels. Zippos made for other countries do not (always) have these.
Should I Remove the safety sticker on the back?
The early stickers are paper based and particularly on older lighters can be a pain to remove in one piece. Even when removed you will often find a shadow where the sticker has been. Newer lighters have a much more "collector" friendly sticker. Removing these is a matter of personal choice. On older lighters they are often best left in place. On newer lighters I would recommend peeling them off and sticking them inside the lid of the box.
Why should I remove the flint?
Over a period of time the flint will degrade. Lighter flints are made of a powder called Ferrocerium. This is compressed and a bonding agent added to form what we call the flint. When the bonding breaks down over a period of years the degraded flint will turn into its powder form. This has two adverse effects on the lighter. The powder will coat the inside of the lighter with dust, and often the powder in the flint tube will stick and can be very difficult to remove.
What is my lighter worth?
Quite simply, as much as someone is willing to pay! Lighters with names or initials engraved are usually worth a lot less than un-engraved lighters (unless they are very old, or the person can be identified) lighters with company advertising can appeal to different collectors, for example a Ford lighter can appeal to a collector of motor car memorabilia, as well as Zippo collectors.
Do Zippo only make lighters?
No, Since 1960, Zippo have diversified into other products, some available from retail outlets, others only available from the corporate products division. Some of these products can be found in the gallery section of my homepage
Is there a Collectors Club for Zippo Enthusiasts?
There are Zippo collectors clubs around the world, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Italy, Denmark and South Africa are a few. By far the best know is Zippo's own, "Zippo Click". ZC members are able to purchase some very limited edition lighters direct from Zippo, and also have access to an internet forum where you can ask any questions and someone will always know the answer. To join Zippo Click, click here
Are all Zippo Lighters the same shape?
As well as the standard Zippo, there are a few other styles. Since 1956 Zippo have produced a slim version of the lighter, and a number of styles of table lighter. Between 1985 & 1989 they produced a butane filled lighter known as the "Contempo" and are due to introduce a new Butane lighter shortly.
What about "Viet Nam" Zippos?
Since World War two, Zippos have been carried by servicemen all over the world. Many of these lighters were engraved with personal messages. These lighters were either engraved "in the field" or at local engravers. These lighters are popular with both Zippo collectors and war memorabilia collectors alike.
When the US left Vietnam in 1973, much equipment was left behind, and this would have included a fair number of new Zippo lighters. Many of these have been engraved since, to make them look like they were owned by US veterans. There are also a large number of fake Zippos (made in China) that have been engraved to fool the unwary buyer. Sourcing genuine Viet Nam lighters is one of the most difficult areas of collecting. One of the best resources on line is www.gersters.ch This site is in German, but contains many photographs and footnotes in English.
You mentioned "Fake" Zippos, What about them?
As Zippo is one of the most popular and best selling lighters in the world, it is not surprising that someone will copy them. There are two types, other than the Viet Nam ones above, that you should be on the look out for. The first is the Zippo look-alike. There are too many different manufacturers to mention but many companies have made lighters that look similar, if not identical to Zippos. Zippo has now registered the design, but copies still flood the market. Then there is the "Rippo". This is a lighter with all the correct markings, made specifically to fool people. Most of these are made in China, and early examples were hand engraved with the bottom stamp. Newer examples can be very difficult to spot, particularly if buying online where you cannot hold the lighter. One of the best resources on line for fake Zippos, is www.diablo944.co.uk The first thing you should do on this site is to try the Clone test
Do Zippo Make Left Handed Lighters?
The majority of Zippo lighters, when held with the hinge to the left, will have the base stamp readable. On some lighters, the base stamp will be upside down. There is a myth that these "Left handed" lighters are extremely rare. This is not the case as many of these lighters exist.
Is there a catalogue available of all Zippo designs?
There are a number of books available, but no complete listing has ever been produced. It is estimated that there are over 400,000 designs in circulation, many of which are advertising lighters with production quantities as low as 25 lighters. Even some of the lighters produced by Zippo for standard circulation never make the annual catalogue. On top of this are the country specific lighters decorated by distribution agents worldwide. Click here to see some of the book available