While Zippo lighters are useful to smokers, they’re also a great collector’s item for thousands of non-smokers. They attract many collectors who buy them wherever they can be found. This can be strange to the uninitiated and leave them wondering: “why do so many people collect Zippo lighters?”
People collect Zippo lighters because of their quality and endurance. Moreover, Zippo lighters’ cases come in countless colors and patterns, making them more desirable for collectors. Many people also collect Zippo lighters because of their patriotic spirit towards the U.S.
Have you ever wondered why so many people, especially non-smokers, collect Zippo lighters? Well, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, I’ll present eight reasons why people decide to start collecting not just any lighters but Zippo windproofs.
1. Some People Are Passionate About Collecting Lighters
Some people like collecting cars and expensive watches, while others find it worthwhile to collect lighters or stamps. Who can say which hobby is more important or “relevant”? The truth is that collecting anything comes from fascination and passion for certain items. For some, those items are lighters.
Now, if you ask somebody passionate about collecting lighters what’s the “Holy Grail” in their collecting world, chances are the majority will immediately shout, “Zippo lighters!” Honestly though, they wouldn’t be wrong.
Many new collectors of lighters start their collections with inexpensive pieces that look nice or cool to them. With some experience that comes with time, they realize what the name Zippo signifies for many seasoned lighter collectors. It’s a natural progression from a novice to a refined collector.
Having a few Zippo lighters in your collection has become a rite of passage in the lighter collectors’ world. Even if you’re not the biggest fan of Zippo lighters, at this point, it’s an unofficial requirement that at least one Zippo decorates your collection. Kind of like a Rolex in the watch-collecting world.
2. They Make a Great Investment
Many collectors aren’t interested in the whole collecting-for-passion idea. Their interests (and sometimes income) lie in the fact that a few Zippo lighters are great assets. Every collecting community has a few of those collectors; watches, cars, jewelry—you name it. Zippo lighters are luxury goods for many.
Investing in an item in the hopes of at least doubling the price in a few years means looking for those rare pieces that are almost impossible to locate. The fact that Zippo still produces their lighters (since the 1930s) doesn’t help these collectors much. That means the price of some lighters remains pretty much the same or even goes down over the years.
However, there are some Zippo models here and there that are simply worth investing in. Like many other collectible items, the most sought-after Zippo lighters are the earlier prototypes and models. Since Zippo was founded in the 1930s, collectors have had to be content with vintage pieces instead of antique ones.
Of course, collecting something for investment purposes is entirely acceptable, but this hobby comes with experience. Younger collectors are sometimes easily tricked, and Zippo lighters are a great example.
The zippo company occasionally makes a replica of some older pieces, and collectors should be careful not to think it’s an original piece in great condition.
For more information, check out my article discussing whether Zippo lighters are worth collecting: Are Zippo Lighters Worth Collecting?
3. They’re High Quality
If nothing else, Zippo lighters are famous for their quality. These lighters are made with clear attention to the tiniest details during manufacture and use only the best and most enduring materials. The fact that each Zippo lighter has a lifetime warranty tells you all you need to know.
Many issues that are standard with other lighters simply don’t happen with a Zippo. For example, the constant torment with ordinary lighters is lighter fluid leaking from the casing. This problem happens with a Zippo lighter only if you overfill it with lighter fluid.
Other than that, it’s metal mechanical parts are sturdy and made with such precision that you’ll likely never need to fix your Zippo lighter.
This superb quality makes Zippo lighters unique and an absolute must-have in every lighter collection. So, if you’re new to the lighter-collecting world, you should know that while you’ll pay a bit more for a Zippo lighter, the quality you get is very much worth the price.
4. It’s Easy To Tell if a Zippo Is Original or Fake
Different collectors keep items for vastly different reasons. However, they all agree on one thing: there’s nothing worse than buying a fake piece thinking it’s an original. With some brands, it’s hard to tell whether a piece especially because vintage pieces lack any form of identification.
With Zippo, however, that’s not the case. Since the 1950s, Zippo lighters have come with information that can tell collectors valuable information about an individual lighter’s manufacturing process. The most important information here is the year of production.
The manufacturing date is pressed on the bottom of every Zippo lighter, and nowadays, it comes as a two-digit number. So, if your Zippo has the number “84,” it means it was made in 1984. There were changes to how this information looked like. Some older pieces come with dashes instead of numbers, for instance.
In any case, if you bought a “Zippo” lighter recently, and there’s no manufacturing date on the bottom, that can mean one of two things:
- It’s a model made before the 1950s.
- It’s a fake Zippo.
Advice: If you buy a Zippo lighter without any information on the bottom, it still might be a pre-1950s original model, but I’d advise you to contact an expert just to be sure.
5. The Case Art Appeals to Many Collectors
Many windproof lighters feature various art designs that make them special, but none do it quite like Zippo. You’re bound to find some art design you’re interested in. Zippo has everything from plain metal design to colorful drawings and carvings.
Newer models are especially famous for their art. Just look at the Zippo Dragon model. However, that’s not to say that older models are completely tasteless. They usually had a simpler look, but various sculpture-like carvings on certain models brought worldwide fame to Zippo lighters.
Some good examples include John Wayne or Elvis Presley Zippo lighters. This kind of commitment to art, as well as technical precision, is what makes Zippo lighters the favorite of many collectors.
6. Their History Makes Them Popular
Many collectors in the US are particularly eager to put their hands on as many Zippo lighters as possible. The reason for their interest isn’t that much about investing in rare pieces or because they like the art design. It’s more sentimental for them, which is related to Zippo’s history.
When the US joined World War Two, Zippo started producing their lighters from steel because brass was needed for weapon manufacturing. Moreover, Zippo lighters were the number one choice for the US military. That’s where Zippo’s sturdy design came into play. Whatever the terrain and weather conditions, Zippo lighters kept lighting cigarettes.
Zippo’s popularity soared at home as the company symbolized patriotism. Soon, smokers and non-smokers desired to have a Zippo in their pockets to show they were true Americans.
The old glory remains even today with such models as Black Crackle, which soldiers used during WW2. Soon, every major war and event in US history came with a special Zippo lighter. Naturally, these models are the most desirable among the majority of collectors.
7. They Aren’t That Expensive To Collect
Considering how expensive some collections can get, it’s safe to say collecting Zippo lighters isn’t the most extravagant hobby in the world. People are ready to spend much more on luxury watches or car collections. Naturally, this means that lighters don’t generate as many investment possibilities. However, it makes collecting possible for ordinary people.
Depending on the model, you can pay anywhere from $17 to $40 for a new Zippo lighter. They’re not the cheapest lighters in the world, but many collectors can afford to buy some models regularly. All in all, you get your money’s worth with Zippo lighters.
More importantly, used Zippo lighters are also available in almost every country. You can get great deals when buying used Zippos. Of course, it depends on the model and the condition, but the prices are usually reasonable. Rarer pieces will cost you a bit more, but nothing compared to used luxury watches, for example.
8. They’re Durable and Refillable
Unlike some other collections, such as stamp collections, you can use the Zippo lighters you collected over the years. No matter how old a Zippo is, it’ll still do its magic if you have some lighter fluid!
Collectors who buy Zippo lighters for practical purposes are like pen collectors. They enjoy every aspect of the items they collect, but they also want to use them as much as possible. For these collectors, there’s no point in collecting something if you’re not going to use it.
A common question is: if they’re only using them, why can’t they buy just one or two? For these collectors, it’s not enough to just use a lighter. They want to switch between various models in their collection. It’s like when a kid gets a new toy. The true magic lies in using as many lighters as possible.