Zippo 1935 replica
That familiar "clink" when you open your Zippo, followed by the grind of the wheel on the flint as it ignites the flame, the smell of lighter fuel burning, then "clunk" shut.
This utilitarian icon was created in the early 1930s by George G. Blaisdell. George watched a friend attempting to use an Austrian IMCO lighter that was windproof, but difficult to actually use, as it required both hands to ignite. George thought he could design a more practical lighter.
He adapted the windproof chimney design from the Austrian lighter, but fabricated a new rectangular body with a single hinge for the top. He created an inner hollow box that holds five rayon balls and the wick: it fits snugly into the outer case, but is easily removed to allow re-fueling. Attached to the inner box is the clever spring toggle that keeps the lid shut or open: it's this toggle that gives the Zippo its distinctive "clink" sound. He called his new lighter Zippo as he thought it sounded modern, like "zipper", and patented the design on 3rd March 1936.
The Zippo served in WWII and Vietnam. Although the Zippo lighter was not the official lighter of the U.S. Military, it was the lighter of choice for servicemen and women: a far higher accolade and confirmation of their quality and dependability, than any contract.
With the dramatic decrease in smoking, sales of the Zippo have obviously decreased, but the Zippo remains an essential piece of kit for campers and professional backpackers. This is due to its windproof design, and adequate rate of fuel delivery, allowing it to stay lit in harsh weather conditions. It's also believed to be more reliable at altitude than the modern butane lighters.
Your faithful Zippo becomes an extension of you over time; they wear slowly, but they develop a patina unique to the way you use them. That's why we become so fond of them.
Country of Origin : USA
Creator: George G. Blaisdell
Type: Windproof fuel lighter
Year: 1930s to date
Why: Functional and reliable cultural American icon.