Zippo lighters aren’t among the first things people think of as potential collection pieces. However, you’re not alone in thinking they’re great collectibles. Still, if you’re starting your journey as a collector, you’ll want to make sure Zippo lighters are worth collecting.
Zippo lighters can be worth collecting for their high quality and design, but they usually don’t reach high prices. Some pre-1950s Zippo lighters are great investment pieces if you can prove they’re original.
In this article, I’ll discuss if Zippo lighters are worth collecting, and I’ll provide a few reasons why some people still deem these high-quality lighters as collectible material. If you want to start your Zippo lighters collection, read on to see how to check if your Zippos are original.
How Much They’re Worth
When discussing prices for any collectible items, there are always a few things to consider. In the case of Zippo lighters, it’s important to mention that they are still produced today, which means newer models won’t be that expensive in the future.
However, even some newer models reach a painful price range due to the material they use. For instance, Zippo’s Armor 18K Solid Gold model will cost you a whopping $25,000.00! On the other hand, the least expensive model—Slim Street Chrome—costs only $17.95. Finally, the mid-range prices for the newest models are about $40.
Since collectors usually like to buy used items to save money or invest in rare pieces, let me also mention that used Zippo lighters are easily found on many forums and websites like eBay or Amazon. Naturally, prices can vary depending on the model, but ordinary used Zippo lighters cost around $20.
Vintage Ones Can Get Expensive
Some vintage Zippo lighters that are highly desirable can quickly reach prices few are willing to pay. Collectors, however, see great investment potential in those discontinued models.
Some collectors don’t even want to collect newer Zippo lighters. They’d rather focus on those older models that are harder to find. Why’s that?
Besides the investment potential I mentioned, many collectors like researching and acquiring rare models. For them, it’s about the hunt rather than any monetary value. Secondly, many collectors don’t want mass-produced contemporary pieces in their collections.
Some older models, such as a Mid-Century 800 Zippo Lighter made in the 1950s, would cost you around $1000. Models like these are becoming hard to find, increasing their prices even more.
Now that we know all about Zippo lighters’ prices, it’s time to answer the question: Are they worth collecting? It depends on the reason behind your collection. It’s worth purchasing vintage Zippo lighters if you’re only interested in investing and selling them in the future.
You can still buy some newer pieces if you’re a fan of their design, but the price won’t change that much because they’re mass-produced.
Why Collect Them
Collectors are like fingertips—they’re all unique. Some collectors might share some common interests, but no identical collections exist. Because of that, different collectors collect Zippo lighters for different reasons, each proving these lighters are worth collecting. Let’s see what some of those reasons are.
The Quality Is Out of This World
Some people love them, and some don’t, but no one can deny the fantastic quality of Zippo lighters. Part of the reason behind Zippo lighters’ high quality is the country of production: the USA. Each Zippo lighter is made in the US, where products usually cost more compared to some other countries because the US pays their manufacturers a higher wage.
That ultimately means the quality will be much better, which means fewer maintenance costs. This is important even for those collectors who don’t use their Zippo lighters, as they won’t leak or break for years. This makes them great investments overall.
Pre-1950s Models Are Popular Collection Items
The rarity of certain items is an essential element for many collectors. In that sense, many Zippo lighter collectors spend hours trying to find those one-in-a-million pieces, no matter the cost. Those truly unique Zippo lighters many collectors are looking for were produced before the 1950s.
The reason behind their popularity’s that they were the first Zippo lighters to see the light of day. The company was still young before the 1950s. Another important reason is that during the 1950s, the company started putting production dates and other important information on their lighters.
It’s much easier to check if a Zippo lighter’s an original if it has a production date. Still, many collectors prefer the pre-1950s models precisely because they don’t have that information. Those lighters are rarer and, therefore, more desirable (and profitable) today when all new Zippo lighters come with production dates.
Some People Like the Design
For some collectors, it’s all about the design. They don’t care how old a lighter is or if it has important information—they just want their Zippo lighters to look cool on their display. And when it comes to lighters, you won’t get more superbly designed pieces than Zippo lighters.
Zippo emphasizes their unique design, making them the most desirable lighters to collect. Moreover, Zippo lighters have kept their original design since their inception, which many collectors appreciate.
There’s nothing worse for a collector than a continual decline in the quality of an item they collect. That’s why collecting Zippo lighters is still very popular among smokers and non-smokers. So, why are Zippo lighters so well-designed?
George Grant Blaisdell wasn’t particularly happy with the design of lighters back in the day (the 1930s), so he decided to improve how lighters worked, and Zippo was born. Zippo lighters always come with a slightly longer flame guard, with tiny holes for air to pass through.
Other than that, the outer design is quite simplistic. Zippo lighters are made as small rectangles. Originally, they were produced plain, without drawings or carvings. However, the superb quality of Zippo’s design lies in the high-quality parts inside the case.
All the metal parts will last for years, and cotton soaked with butane shouldn’t leak even after decades of constant use. Sturdy design and plain style characterize Zippo lighters, making them unique items in the world of lighters worthy of collection.
They’re Artwork You Can Use
Apart from the amazing design, many collectors eagerly collect Zippo lighter because of their artistic quality and attention to detail. With newer models, you can build a custom case according to your desire. Apart from that, however, collectors appreciate numerous art designs with their lighters.
Art design of Zippo lighters generally includes:
- Plain scratched or smooth metal finish
- Various drawings that can be colored or with no color
There’s simply something for every collector. Art design’s another reason why vintage Zippo lighters are so popular nowadays. Collectors who like to display their Zippo lighters don’t shy away from buying newer pieces—it’s like they were made to be displayed. That’s because some newer models use a lot more color and art on their cases.
How To Check if You Own an Original Zippo Lighter
Collectors usually have to be careful when buying used Zippo lighters. The market’s filled with fake Zippos, and sometimes it’s hard to tell if it’s an original piece. If you want to be 100% sure you’re holding a real Zippo lighter, the best option would be to talk to an expert. However, there are still some signs you can check on your own.
Check the Quality
Like with other fake items that profess to be the real deal, the quality is the best sign that something’s original. As I mentioned, Zippo lighters use only high-quality material to ensure their product lasts for decades.
So, if your Zippo lighter feels flimsy or some metal parts don’t seem to work, it’s probably not an original piece. Also, check if your lighter’s leaking—a typical sign of a fake Zippo.
When inspecting your Zippo’s quality, check the following:
- If some metal parts don’t work properly
- Hinges are squeaking when you open the lighter
- The case is easy to bend
- You can’t remove the inner case easily
Check for the Production Date
We already know that pre-1950s Zippo lighters don’t have production dates on them, and in that case, it’s best to contact an expert. However, if a Zippo was made after the 1950s, it should have the following:
- Letters A through L for the month of production
- A two-digit number for the year of production
- The “Made in the US” phrase
Zippo lighters are great items to start collecting, and they’re still proving to be worthy of many people’s time and energy as collectible pieces. They’re usually not expensive, although some older models can reach prices worth investing in.
Some of the reasons why collectors think Zippo lighters are worth collecting include:
- The high quality and longevity
- Stunning and unique design
- The practicality of these items
To see if you own an original Zippo lighter, you should check the quality and see if it has a production date.