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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Cult Brands - Zippo

I was introduced to Zippo lighters by one of my friends during my MBA days. Though I was smoking for quite a time, somehow I remained ignorant about this thing. I'd seen this lighter many a times on screen, but never known the histroy it carried. There's nothing much about the Zippo, still there's something in it. And to limit its mystic to its "click" and "thunk" would be like saying Harley Davidson's magic is only due to its patented audio rumble. Below is a compilation of some information on Zippo, that I collected from various sources. Enjoy it and become one of the Zippo Collectors.
A Zippo Lighter is a refillable, metal lighter manufactured by Zippo Manufacturing Company. They are highly collectible and hundreds of different styles and designs have been made in the seven decades since their introduction.
Zippos gained popularity as “windproof” lighters—able to stay lit in harsh weather. They became popular in the United States military, especially during World War II when all Zippo lighters produced went to the Allied war effort. Additionally, Zippos are known for the lifetime guarantee they carry: if a Zippo breaks, no matter how old, the company will replace or fix the lighter for free.
George G. Blaisdell founded Zippo Manufacturing Company (located in Bradford, Pennsylvania) in 1932 and produced the first Zippo in early 1933. It got its name because Blaisdell liked the sound of the word "zipper" (according to John Ratzenberger's television show "Made in America" and Zippo Manufacturing Company's website).
Since 1933, over 400,000,000 Zippos have been produced. After World War II the Zippo became increasingly used in advertising by companies large and small through the 1960's. Many of the early advertising Zippos are works of art painted by hand, and as technology has evolved, so has the design and finish of the Zippo. The basic mechanism of the Zippo has basically remained unchanged.
In 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. On the right was a Roman Numeral which denoted the year, beginning with II in 1986. Thus a Zippo stamped H XI was made in August, 1995. However in 2000, Zippo altered this system, changing the Roman Numerals to more conventional Arabic Numerals. Thus a Zippo made in August 04 will be stamped H 04.

Trivia on Zippo
The highest amount paid for a Zippo lighter was $18,000. The 1933 model was purchased at the 2002 Tokyo Swap meet.
An average of 800 Zippo lighters are auctioned online every day.
There are over 4 million Zippo lighter collectors from all over the world
Original price of a Zippo lighter was $ 1.95
Basic concept of Zippo windproof lighter has remain unchanged for over 70 years
Zippo ran its first national advertisement in Esquire magazine in 1937
In late 1950s a Zippo was removed from the belly of a fish. The Zippo lit the first time.

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