There are probably only two things that make a man look like a real man – a cigar and a lighter. Well, not really, I was just meditating on the fact that back then cigars are the epitome of all manliness, with the likes of James Dean, Marlon Brando, and Alfred Hitchcock leading the way of manly cigar smoking. These iconic men aside, let’s look into the tool that comes with the trade of smoking cigars — lighters, not just ordinary lighters, but Zippo lighters.
Zippos have been a popular brand for windproof lighters that stretch way back even before the Second World War. A bit of history here, the first Zippo lighter was produced in 1933 and was based on an earlier Australian lighter design. This Australian design was improved by George G. Blaisdell, which basically makes him the godfather of lighters.
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When the Second World War erupted, Mr. Blaisdell’s company, the Zippo Manufacturing Company, dedicated all its lighter production to the war effort, eventually making the lighters a standard issue just like the guns, the knives, and the soldiers sent to war. After the onslaught of the Second World War, the Zippo lighter found a new home in Hollywood, and they’ve got actor John Wayne and his war film, The Green Berets, to thank for.
During the 1960s much of Zippo’s advertising were a mix up of companies using Zippo in their advertising and Zippo advertising other companies through their customize option. Here are some vintage print ads that follows a flyer template focused on Zippo’s advertising campaigns on its windproof design, life time warranty with the tagline “It works or we fix it for free”, and as a personalized gift:
Because of the change in opinion on smoking today, much of Zippo’s value have become more than a tool for lighting a cigar, but a rare collector’s item. Ever since the end of the Second World War, Zippo’s identity have become a vintage collectible that records our history thanks to their customization and the “trench art” provided by war veterans from the 1940s to the mid 1970s.