Collecting vintage cigarette lighters

WW1 Vintage Lighter
Charlie Cooper / Updated: Apr 6th 2020 / Lighters

Cigarette lighter collecting is a unique hobby that never fails to interest. A quick search on eBay reveals a nifty butane silver plated lighter from Korea, an antique lighter from the 70s shaped like a bowling pin, and a steel case Zippo from the 1940s, all interesting and unique in their own ways.

The simple act of being able to ignite a flame with a click of a finger is something we take for granted nowadays. Matches weren’t invented until about 1805 and the first lighter wasn’t invented until 1823. Fast forward to the 1920’s and lighters became both functional and artistic pieces that had pride of place in the pocket.

The basic shape of the modern cigarette lighter can be traced back to the match holder. Before safety matches were invented accidental ignitions in one’s pocket were far too common. By storing matches in a small metal container the risk of accidental ignition is removed. This shape, roughly rectangular with rounded edges, became the design prototype of most of the early manufactured cigarette lighters.

With the decline in popularity of smoking, reusable lighters have become rarer, but companies such as Zippo are still going strong, with perhaps even more interest in them from collectors than ever. Lighter collecting clubs can be found all around the world with more starting every year, so now is a great time to start a cigarette lighter collection.