Zippo
Overview
A Zippo lighter is a refillable, metal lighter manufactured by Zippo Manufacturing Company of Bradford
Bradford, Pennsylvania
Bradford is a small city located in rural McKean County, Pennsylvania, in the United States 78 miles south of Buffalo, New York. Settled in 1823, Bradford was chartered as a city in 1879 and emerged as a wild oil boomtown in the Pennsylvanian oil rush in the late 19th century...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, U.S. Thousands of different styles and designs have been made in the seven decades since their introduction including military ones for specific regiments.
George G. Blaisdell founded Zippo Manufacturing Company in 1932, and produced the first Zippo lighter in early 1933, being inspired by an Austrian cigarette lighter of similar design.
Encyclopedia
A Zippo lighter is a refillable, metal lighter manufactured by Zippo Manufacturing Company of Bradford
Bradford, Pennsylvania
Bradford is a small city located in rural McKean County, Pennsylvania, in the United States 78 miles south of Buffalo, New York. Settled in 1823, Bradford was chartered as a city in 1879 and emerged as a wild oil boomtown in the Pennsylvanian oil rush in the late 19th century...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, U.S. Thousands of different styles and designs have been made in the seven decades since their introduction including military ones for specific regiments.

Establishment

George G. Blaisdell founded Zippo Manufacturing Company in 1932, and produced the first Zippo lighter in early 1933, being inspired by an Austrian cigarette lighter of similar design. It got its name because Blaisdell liked the sound of the word "zipper
Zipper
A zipper is a commonly used device for temporarily joining two edges of fabric...

" and "zippo" sounded more modern. On March 3, 1936, patent was granted for the Zippo lighter.

Zippo lighters became popular in the United States military, especially during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 — when, as the company's Web site says, Zippo "ceased production of lighters for consumer markets and dedicated all manufacturing to the U.S. military." The Zippo at that time was made of brass
Brass
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc; the proportions of zinc and copper can be varied to create a range of brasses with varying properties.In comparison, bronze is principally an alloy of copper and tin...

, but as this commodity was unobtainable due to the war, Zippo used steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

 during the war years. While the Zippo Manufacturing Company never had an official contract with the military, soldiers and armed forces personnel insisted that Base exchange
Base exchange
A Base Exchange is a type of retail store operating on United States military installations worldwide...

 (BX) and Post exchange (PX) stores carry this sought-after lighter. While it had previously been common to have Zippos with authorized badges, unit crests and division insignia, it became popular among the American soldiers of the Vietnam War, to get their Zippos engraved with personal mottos. These lighters are now sought after collectors items and popular souvenirs for visitors to Vietnam.

After World War II, the Zippo lighter became increasingly used in advertising by companies large and small through the 1960s. Many of the early advertising Zippo lighters are works of art painted by hand, and as technology has evolved, so has the design and finish of the Zippo lighter. The basic mechanism of the Zippo lighter has remained unchanged.

In 2002 Zippo expanded its product line to include a variety of utility-style multi-purpose lighters, known as the Zippo MPL. This was followed in 2005 with the Outdoor Utility Lighter, known as the OUL. These lighters are fueled with butane
Butane
Butane is a gas with the formula C4H10 that is an alkane with four carbon atoms. The term may refer to any of two structural isomers, or to a mixture of them: in the IUPAC nomenclature, however, butane refers only to the unbranched n-butane isomer; the other one being called "methylpropane" or...

. In August 2007 Zippo released a new butane lighter called the Zippo BLU.

A museum called Zippo/Case visitors center is located in Bradford, Pennsylvania at 1932 Zippo Drive. This 15,000 square foot (1398 m²) building contains rare and custom made Zippo lighters, and also sells the entire Zippo line. The museum was featured on the NPR program Weekend Edition
Weekend Edition
Weekend Edition is the name given to a set of American radio news magazines produced and distributed by National Public Radio . It is the weekend counterpart to Morning Edition. It consists of Weekend Edition Saturday and Weekend Edition Sunday , each of which airs for two hours, from 8 a.m. to 10...

 Sunday on January 25, 2009. The museum also contains an enormous collection of Case
W. R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co.
W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company is an American manufacturer of traditional pocketknives, fixed blades/sporting knives, limited edition commemoratives and collectibles. The company originated in Little Valley, New York around the turn of the 20th century before relocating to its current home,...

 knives. Since the Zippo company's 60th anniversary in 1992, annual editions have been produced for worldwide Zippo collectors.

From 1949 to 2002 Zippos were also produced in Niagara Falls, Ontario
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Niagara Falls is a Canadian city on the Niagara River in the Golden Horseshoe region of Southern Ontario. The municipality was incorporated on June 12, 1903...

, Canada. Since 1933, over 400,000,000 Zippo lighters have been produced.

In 2009, Zippo announced plans to purchase Ronson Consumer Products Corporation, a long-time competitor in the lighter market. On February 3, 2010, the deal was finalized.

March 2011: Due to significant decrease of sales from 18 million lighter a year in the mid-1990s to about 12 million lighters this year related with pressure increasing on people not to smoke, Zippo Manufacturing Co. will try offering a wider variety of products using Zippo brands such as watches, leisure clothing and cologne. This strategy is similar with a success of Victorinox
Victorinox
Victorinox is a knife manufacturer based in the town of Ibach, in the Canton of Schwyz, Switzerland. Since its acquisition of rival Wenger in 2005, it has, once more, become the sole supplier of multi-purpose knives to the Swiss army.-History:...

 Swiss Army Brands Inc. has had selling watches, luggage, clothing and fragrance.

Usage

Besides having gained popularity as “windproof” lighters, Zippo lighters are able to stay lit in harsh weather, due to the design of the windscreen and adequate rate of fuel delivery. As such, until recently they were highly popular with backpackers
Backpacking (wilderness)
Backpacking combines the activities of hiking and camping for an overnight stay in backcountry wilderness...

 and within the military. Professional backpackers (operating in the wilderness) have however now turned away from the regular Zippo lighter in favor of torch butane
Butane
Butane is a gas with the formula C4H10 that is an alkane with four carbon atoms. The term may refer to any of two structural isomers, or to a mixture of them: in the IUPAC nomenclature, however, butane refers only to the unbranched n-butane isomer; the other one being called "methylpropane" or...

 lighter
Lighter
A lighter is a portable device used to generate a flame. It consists of a metal or plastic container filled with a flammable fluid or pressurized liquid gas, a means of ignition, and some provision for extinguishing the flame.- History :...

 which have windproof technology, heavy-duty matches, and ferrocerium rods. Many high-altitude and cold weather backpackers
Backpacking (wilderness)
Backpacking combines the activities of hiking and camping for an overnight stay in backcountry wilderness...

 still prefer Zippo lighters because butane lighters are less reliable in cold weather.

A consequence of the windproofing is that it is hard to extinguish a Zippo by blowing out the flame. However, if the flame is blown from the top down, it will be easily extinguished. The proper way to extinguish the lighter is to close the top half, which starves the flame of oxygen, but unlike other lighters, this does not cut the fuel. One of the recognizable features of Zippo is the fact that it burns with a wick. Opening the top lid produces an easily recognizable clicking sound for which Zippo lighters are known, and a different, but similar click can be heard when the lighter is closed. This noise is produced by the cam, a little lever that keeps the lid closed or opened securely, which is intended to keep the lid closed when not in use.

Price

Current Zippos carry a suggested retail price
Suggested retail price
The manufacturer's suggested retail price , list price or recommended retail price of a product is the price which the manufacturer recommends that the retailer sell the product. The intention was to help to standardise prices among locations...

 between US$12.95 up to US$12,675.95 for the 18k solid gold model. In 2001, according to the fall 2003 issue of IUP Magazine, a 1933 model was purchased for $18,000 at a swap meet in Tokyo
Tokyo
, ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

, and in 2002 the company bought one valued at $12,000 for its own collection. During the 2007 75th anniversary celebrations, Zippo sold a near mint 1933 model for $37,000.

All Zippo lighters carry a limited lifetime guarantee, promoted using the trademarked phrase "It works or we fix it for free." The corporate web site boasts: "In almost 75 years, no one has ever spent a cent on the mechanical repair of a Zippo lighter regardless of the lighter’s age or condition."

Zippo dates

From mid-1955 Zippo started year coding their lighters by the use of dots (.). From 1966 until 1973 the year code was denoted by combinations of vertical lines
Vertical bar
The vertical bar is a character with various uses in mathematics, where it can be used to represent absolute value, among others; in computing and programming and in general typography, as a divider not unlike the interpunct...

 (|). From 1974 until 1981 the coding comprised combinations of forward slashes
Slash (punctuation)
The slash is a sign used as a punctuation mark and for various other purposes. It is now often called a forward slash , and many other alternative names.-History:...

 (/), and from 1982 until June 1986 the coding was by backslash
Backslash
The backslash is a typographical mark used mainly in computing. It was first introduced to computers in 1960 by Bob Bemer. Sometimes called a reverse solidus or a slosh, it is the mirror image of the common slash....

 (\).

In July 1986, Zippo began including a lot code on all lighters showing the month and year of production. On the left of the underside was stamped a letter A–L, denoting the month (A = January, B = February, C = March, etc.). On the right was a Roman numeral
Roman numerals
The numeral system of ancient Rome, or Roman numerals, uses combinations of letters from the Latin alphabet to signify values. The numbers 1 to 10 can be expressed in Roman numerals as:...

 which denoted the year, beginning with II in 1986. Thus a Zippo stamped H IX was made in August, 1993. However in 2001, Zippo altered this system, changing the Roman numerals to more conventional Arabic numerals
Arabic numerals
Arabic numerals or Hindu numerals or Hindu-Arabic numerals or Indo-Arabic numerals are the ten digits . They are descended from the Hindu-Arabic numeral system developed by Indian mathematicians, in which a sequence of digits such as "975" is read as a numeral...

. Thus a Zippo made in August 2004 was stamped H 04.
There was a myth that Zippo lighters were made by prisoners, and the number identified the prisoner, or their crime and sentence length. Another myth was that a Zippo stamped 'H' was inferior to one stamped 'A'.

Construction

The cases of Zippo lighters are typically made of metal and are rectangular with a hinged top. On most models, the top of the case is slightly curved.

Inside the case are the works of the lighter: the spring-toggle lever that keeps the top closed, the wick, windscreen chimney
Chimney
A chimney is a structure for venting hot flue gases or smoke from a boiler, stove, furnace or fireplace to the outside atmosphere. Chimneys are typically vertical, or as near as possible to vertical, to ensure that the gases flow smoothly, drawing air into the combustion in what is known as the...

, thumbwheel, and flint
Ferrocerium
Ferrocerium is a man-made metallic material that has the ability to give off a large number of hot sparks at temperatures at when scraped against a rough surface , such as ridged steel...

, all of which are mounted on an open-bottom metal box that is slightly smaller than the bottom of the outer case, and into which it slips snugly.

The hollow part of the interior box encloses a rayon
Rayon
Rayon is a manufactured regenerated cellulose fiber. Because it is produced from naturally occurring polymers, it is neither a truly synthetic fiber nor a natural fiber; it is a semi-synthetic or artificial fiber. Rayon is known by the names viscose rayon and art silk in the textile industry...

 batt which is in contact with the wick. The fuel, light petroleum distillate or synthetic isoparaffinic hydrocarbon (commonly referred to as lighter fluid or naphtha
Naphtha
Naphtha normally refers to a number of different flammable liquid mixtures of hydrocarbons, i.e., a component of natural gas condensate or a distillation product from petroleum, coal tar or peat boiling in a certain range and containing certain hydrocarbons. It is a broad term covering among the...

), is poured into the batt, which traps it. It also contains a tube that holds a short, cylindrical flint. The tube has an interior spring and exterior cap-screw that keeps the flint
Flint
Flint is a hard, sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, categorized as a variety of chert. It occurs chiefly as nodules and masses in sedimentary rocks, such as chalks and limestones. Inside the nodule, flint is usually dark grey, black, green, white, or brown in colour, and...

 in constant contact with the exterior thumb-wheel. Spinning this rough-surfaced wheel against flint results in a spark that ignites the fluid in the wick.

The butt once had a small hole in the bottom to facilitate easier refueling. It was often used as a place to store extra flints. Newer models do not always have the hole, and instead have a flap in the bottom of the butt (with the hinge on one of the short edges). The words "LIFT TO FILL" are stamped in black ink multiple times on the bottom, with the intention being that the user should lift the flap and squirt the fuel in to the batt material under the flap.

All parts of the lighter are replaceable. In all there are 22 parts, and the Zippo lighter requires 108 manufacturing operations.

The Zippo BLU

Zippo released the Zippo BLU in 2007. It is a butane torch lighter, which Zippo has gone to great lengths to make sure is still "identifiable as a Zippo". Specifically, the lid and cam were "tuned" so that the lighter still makes the distinctive "Zippo click" and also it is one of the only butane torch lighters that uses a flint and striker wheel.

Zippo subsidiaries

In addition to its recent purchase of the Ronson brand in the U.S. and Canada, Zippo also owns W.R. Case and Sons Cutlery Company, Bradford, PA, Zippo U.K., Ltd., London, England, and Zippo Fashion Italia, Vicenza, Italy.

Further reading

  • Rose Chun, "Snap That Top: The Zippo Lighter Dwells in American Legend as an Icon of Machismo and Quality," Cigar Aficionado, vol. 2, no. 2 (Winter 1993/94), pp. 72–79.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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