A Brief History of the Zippo Lighter

February 9, 2016

When were Zippos invented? The famous Zippo Lighter originated in 1932 in Bradford, a small Pennsylvania town at a time when the United States was suffering its worst depression in history. The Zippo lighter history began on a summer evening in 1932, at a dinner dance held at the Bradford Country Club, in Bradford, Pennsylvania. If you are wondering who invented the Zippo lighter, you need to know that attending the dance was George G. Blaisdell, who later became known as “Mr. Zippo”. During the event, Mr. Blaisdell 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 use required two hands, and its thin metal surface dented easily.

In the fall of 1932, Blaisdell fabricated a rectangular case and attached the top of the lighter to the case with a hinge. He retained the chimney design that protected the flame under adverse conditions. The result was a lighter that looked good and was easy to operate. Deciding on a name for this new revolutionary lighter was his next concern. He liked the sound of the word “zipper” so he formed different variations on the word and settled on “Zippo”, deciding that it had a “modern” sound…. The rest is history.

In 1935, Bradford’s Kendall Refining Company placed an order for 500 Zippo lighters. These are believed to be the first company-advertised lighters produced by Zippo and are highly collectible. Our popular Zippo 1935 Replica Lighter, sans any company logo, proves that this timeless style still looks beautiful today.

The birth of the sports series began in 1937. The first sports model was the 275; this number represented the price of the model, which was sold for $2.75. Earlier sports models included the Golfer, the Fisherman, the Bulldog, the Hunter, the Greyhound, and the Elephant. In 1938, the Scotch Terrier, the Fisherman, and the Bulldog were the only models on the Sports Series. Today the company has many top-quality lighters boldly emblazoned with your favorite team logos. Whether it be the NFL Carolina Panthers Brushed Chrome, NFL Giants, Jets, and many more, we got you covered! For nostalgia buffs, the plain Zippo 1937 Replica Lighter will be a wonderful addition to your collection.

In 1943, to aid in the war effort, a Zippo newspaper ad announces that all production will be dedicated to the armed forces overseas. Today, every time you light up a good cigar, you’ll be supporting the brave troops who selflessly put their life on the line to preserve our freedom with any Zippo  United States Army, United States Marines, United States Air Force , and  Zippo United States Navy Lighters.

The first Slim Lighters were introduced on June 8, 1956. This new version was designed to appeal primarily to women, but its sleek design and elegant good looks made it very popular with every smoker regardless of gender. Still going strong today, this popular Zippo Slim series features the Spectrum, the Street Chrome, the Ultralite, and the ritzy Venetian with its luxury high polish Brass finish, and Art Noveau-like pattern.

Throughout the following years, the company continued to grow and thrive, and on September 23, 1988, the 200,000,000th Zippo lighters rolled off the production line! By 2014, Zippo production surpassed the milestone of 500 million lighters since the first one rolled of the assembly line in early 1933.

To commemorate this momentous feat the 500th Millionth Limited-Edition Replica was introduced! This highly collectible beauty features the manufacturer’s extremely popular Brushed Chrome finish, adorned with eye-catching two-tone engraving. Approximately 50,000 were made, and each one has its own serial number.

On October 3, 1978, company founder and industry legend George G. Blaisdell passed away. You can bet that his company’s enormous growth far exceeded his expectations. Today, if you love New York, the Rolling Stones, or Davidson, or just about anything else, the famous Zippo Lighter Company has the perfect lighter for you to proudly display, all backed by their no worries, no-hassle, lifetime warranty!


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