The loyalty of Zippo Lighter employees, customers, and collectors have made this one of America’s legendarycompanies throughout its , 75-year history. This true American Icon has it’s beginnings in the early 1930s, at the Bradford Country Club in Bradford, Pennsylvania with founder, George Blaisdell who watched a friend awkwardly using a cumbersome Austrian-made lighter. The lighter worked well, even in the wind, due to the design of the chimney. But its appearance was utilitarian. Its use required two hands, and its thin metal surface dented easily.
Mr. Blaisdell was nicknamed “Mr. Zippo” by World War II war correspondent Ernie Pyle. Zippo windproof lighters have been carried by GIs in every war from World War II to Desert Storm. very U.S. Navy Ship, from a small auxiliary vessel to a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, has her own custom designed Zippo windproof lighter.
Vietnam-era Zippo lighters are highly sought after collectibles.
He decided to redesign the lighter and developed a rectangular case and attached the top of the lighter to the case with a hinge. He kept the chimney to protected the flame from the wind. The result was a lighter that looked good and was easy to operate. Application for the original Zippo patent was filed on May 17, 1934, and patent number 2032695 was granted on March 3, 1936. A second patent, number 2517191 was issued on August 1, 1950. The design of the Zippo lighter basically remains the same to this day, with minor improvements.
The word “Zippo” was created by Mr. Blaisdell in 1932. He liked the sound of the word “zipper” so he formed different variations of the word and settled on “Zippo,” deciding that it had a “modern” sound. The first Zippo lighters sold were priced at $1.95 each and, were backed by an unconditional lifetime guarantee – “It works or we fix it free TM.
In 1935 Zippo started engraving initials and attaching metal insignias. The first corporate logo to decorate a Zippo was that of Kendall Refining Company. Since 1932, Zippo has manufactured over 400 million windproof lighters. If these lighters were laid end to end, they would stretch from New York to Los Angeles 4 times. They now produce about 12 million zippo lighters per year. That comes to about 80,000 per day.
Amazingly , in the 1950’s, a Zippo lighter was removed from the stomach of a fish and it lit on the first try!
There are more than 20 Zippo collectors clubs around the world and it is estimated that about 21% of the people who own Zippos are collectors. Collecting Zippos is a great hobby and the lighters hold their value exceptionally well. Zippo collectors are of all ages and come from all over the globe. It’s never too late to start collecting!
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