A Vintage Petrol Lighter Story Volume 13: I Spy With My Zippo Eye

(A Vintage Petrol Lighter Story Volume 13: I Spy With My Zippo Eye is a work of fiction presented by DependableFlame.com)

Creating A Buzz…

Elston James had many Zippo lighters among the dozens of old fire making gadgets that he’d accumulated over the last several years. He hadn’t begun as a collector and he considered his collection now still to be a relatively

Photo by Thomas Lefebvre on Unsplash

modest example of the models and mechanisms, brands and themes that a collector could reasonably assemble.

Elston had never been an all-out, price is no object sort of buyer though as his entry into the vintage cigarette lighter hobby had been one of opportunity as much as intrigue with mechanisms or brand names. Elston had learned early on that there was plenty of money to be made no matter how tight his budget might constrain his ability to acquire (new to him)old lighters.

You see, Elston was in effect a salvage man who rarely got in on the finest and most expensive old lighters unless they fell between the cracks of typical recognition or identification and ended up along with large groups of other lighters being sold off in big, unidentified lots. There was much searching and hoping and wringing of hands as Ebay auctions ended but when a listing went his way the bounty was always worth his while.

This method of buying lighters though had lead Elston often to feel as though he were being left out, especially when new Zippos were introduced and their price tags more steep than he was willing to pay. Oh, there were certainly new lighters that showed up in the bulk listings that he kept tabs on but they were few and far between and thus his itch for the newest, more technologically advanced finishes employed on a Zippo usually went unscratched.

Today was anything but typical however, as Elston’s eyes fell upon the blog article promoting Zippo’s new 540 Color Process lighters and the I Spy design he’d fallen in love with some time back but hadn’t been able to catch in stock on the Zippo website. Unavailability and time had distracted his attention away to the point he’d nearly forgotten completely about it but interest was now rekindled by the allurement of its nostalgic themes highlighted in the article.

Commonly Available

He’d first seen the I Spy Zippo via member posts in some of the Zippo related Facebook lighter groups. The lighter was very well-received among

Photo by Joseph Hudson

Zippo enthusiasts to the point that after its initial release, the Zippo website had it listed as Out Of Stock for several months.

It was released as part of what Zippo called its Web Debut Lighters and thus was not available from any other outlet. Well, it wasn’t available on other outlets without paying a premium as there were a few that popped up on Ebay at marked up prices but Elston was not willing to pay that kind of money and therefore another reason his attention had been distracted away from this particular lighter.

The I Spy Zippo employed the new 540 Color Process technology to wrap the lighter with literally dozens of nostalgic images from the company’s stellar and iconic past. From the slashed corners of some of the early models to the Zippo car and historic Bradford Pennsylvania headquarters to the Zip-A-Flint dispenser and datable bottom stamps of the lighters themselves, the appeal of this lighter reached to all corners of the Zippo community.

Alas, though, Elston’s typical query were the older, used lighters that needed some work in order for them to function as they were intended and it’s easy to see how his attention was drawn away nearly to the point of forgetting the I Spy even existed. Perhaps it would go the way of so many other Zippos he’d fancied over the yrs, Elston thought and just fall to the wayside of lighters he’d been intrigued by but couldn’t muster the wherewithal to actually hold in his hand and own.

And that’s just when he discovered the blog post indicating the I Spy lighter was no longer relegated to the Web Debut only release and was now available for purchase from the Zippo Store on Amazon.com which meant Zippo retailers operating on Ebay probably had it as well. Elston dove into the article with gusto, hoping to glean some new insight into the nostalgic images featured on the 540 wrap and keen to order one for himself if the price tag would allow him before payday.

Pulling The Trigger

Elston had about fifty dollars to play with so the I Spy Zippo should be well within his budget. Just because he could afford it though didn’t mean he didn’t want to get the best deal on the lighter that he could. He was also now

Photo by Joseph Hudson

being distracted by some other 540 Color designs that were highlighted in the article and fell within his interests and collecting categories.

The Glow In The Dark Logo 540 design gave off an X-files aesthetic with its understated graphics that appealed to Elston for a few reasons but none more than him being a huge fan of the show. The 540 Color Greetings From Zippo gave off some vibes similar to the I Spy but was more focused on the headquarters and historical imagery related specifically to Bradford, PA.

He’d been waiting too long for the I Spy though, even if he had practically forgotten about it, to not purchase it now. A quick survey of Ebay found that particular model was still going for a premium over the price that it retailed for on the Zippo website. Elston enthusiastically navigated back to the open window of the DependableFlame.com post promoting the 540 lighters that included the link to the I Spy lighter he now intended to make his own.

Upon clicking the affiliate link for the I Spy in the blog article, Elston was taken via browser to the Amazon Prime website and the specific page for that lighter which to his surprise was priced cheaper than the Zippo site by almost two dollars! This was a huge positive in Elston’s book as not only would it allow him to support the author of the blog post by making a purchase that would earn them a commission but he would save a little money on purchasing the lighter for himself as well.

Elston made all the clicks through his shopping cart and checkout necessary to purchase the I Spy he’d wanted for so long and he’d done it for less than forty dollars including free shipping. “Wow, I can’t wait to get that one in the mail!” he said to himself before returning to Ebay to get distracted by all the old lighters again.

(Please leave any comments, questions or suggestions in the comments section of this or any other page at DependableFlame.com. This is a work of fiction and any similarity of the characters or situations herein to those that have happened in real life should be seen as coincidental.)

Author: Joseph

Be cautious when anyone tells you what you need or have to do...

6 thoughts on “A Vintage Petrol Lighter Story Volume 13: I Spy With My Zippo Eye”

  1. Hello! I just finished reading your story “A Vintage Petrol Lighter Story Volume 13: I Spy With My Zippo Eye.” I really enjoyed it! I used to be a bit of a Zippo fanatic myself. Not nearly as much of a collector as some though! I just had the odd few I enjoyed using for lighting cigs, or the occasional 420 piece at the time. I’m formerly a smoker, of both. But, I switched in 2017 to vaping. I also own a vape shop actually as well. I had watched my dad for many many years, smoking, chewing tobacco, and dabbling in 420 as well. 

    It wasn’t until 2017, that he really opened his eyes to what a lifetime of smoking from his early teens up until the age of 50+ had done to his overall health. He was diagnosed in the early fall of 2017 with stage 4 colorectal cancer. Not a day after his diagnosis, the doctor called him back and told him “You need to come back to my office, immediately!” 

    He did. And, to his surprise, and shock, the doctor told him that he was very sorry but, an error had occurred with his scans, and he in fact actually had stage 3 colorectal cancer, NOT stage 4. He was relieved since the original sentiment from the doctor had been “Pack your things, get your affairs in order, you’re a goner.” 

    My father had to quit his job due to his diagnosis, as his work at the time was affecting his condition. I had just finished working at a job I thoroughly enjoyed, but sadly the place I was working for was closing its doors once and for all. So both of us, needed to find a new way to earn an income. 

    I began working for the local vape shop, and the owner at the time had 2 other businesses on the go and was too terribly busy to be bothered with his vape store at all. I began doing most of the things he was supposed to do for his store. Within a few weeks, and getting fairly good at these tasks, the owner asked me “Have you ever thought of owning this store yourself?

     I’ve been thinking of selling it for a while now, but, I just didn’t have a buyer in mind.” I went home that night, and told my father, I had been presented with a great opportunity, and if he was interested, we could buy the store and start owning and working it ourselves. 

    My father in the midst of all of this going on, was getting many medical tests done, enduring multiple scans, and attending doctor and oncologist appointments, and after a couple days of mulling it over, we signed the papers to buy our store. Keep in mind, I’m 26, so I’ve never run a business alone before, and my father had to have a 9cm by 10cm cancerous tumor (about the size of a grapefruit) surgically removed from his abdomen. 

    With the need for possible chemo/ radiation treatments afterward, if all didn’t go well in his surgery. So more or less, on the fly, I was getting schooled on how to make a spreadsheet on a computer, how to file business taxes and HST quarterly payments, etc… 

    As my father was heading into surgery, and at his bedside in recovery in the hospital after surgery. It was quite a whirlwind of a year, to say the least! His doctors and oncologist afterward said that they can’t say definitively if smoking, chewing tobacco, etc were the causes of his cancer diagnosis, but, they most certainly didn’t likely help. 

    My father didn’t end up having to do chemo or radiation, but due to the invasive nature of a surgery where incisions are made from stem to stern, he had 6 months of at-home recovery where he was bedridden and could not get out of bed on his own at all. But, after he had recovered, no further treatment was needed.

     He returned to work in our store, and we have been in business for almost 6 years now. We both swapped smoking for vaping in the fall of 2017 when we bought our store, and have never looked back since. But, we definitely both enjoy the graphics, and nostalgia of Zippo lighters, lighters in general.

     My dad does a bit of 3D artwork/ 3D computer modeling as a hobby and also designs custom handmade hunting knives as well, so loves all things that pertain to art, design, and good architecture in a product or a building. I’m just glad that I didn’t lose my dad, and for that, I have vaping and my store to thank.

     You helped me really reflect on those days when I was reading your story and to remember how truly thankful and truly grateful I am that he quit smoking when he did and switched to vaping. And that cancer didn’t take him from me.  I always loved buying a new Zippo lighter back in the day when I was a smoker too, and so did my dad! 🙂 

    Thank you for such a lovely story to read! I have viewed some of your other works of Fictional stories and quite enjoyed them too. Love your style of writing! Hope to read more of your content in the future too. 🙂 

    1. Thank you Cal for such a thoughtful and kind comment, I am glad your enjoyed reading the story and hope that your well check out other installments of Elston’s adventures. I am sorry to hear about your father falling ill with cancer but it sounds like evening is going okay now. I am thankful that your father’s health scare lead you both to quit smoking and also that the two of your are able to work together in the enterprise of the vape shop. I hope you have many more yrs with your father and both of your are in good health.

  2. OMG! This was such a fun read about Zippo lighters….I actually read it out loud to my husband and we both felt like we were listening to a story line similar to Christmas Story!  The fact you were able to get a great deal outside of the Zippo website is amazing and I am sure my husband will be scouring your website for amazing deals as he is also into vintage and/or simply cool lighters. Thank you for such a great story! So much fun!

    1. Thank you Kelly for such a kind comment, I am also glad your enjoyed reading the story and hope your husband will become a regular on the site as well. I think he would find not only the fiction interesting but also the products reviews and other articles that we have done for Zippos and many other brands of vintage petrol lighters. I’m not sure exactly why it works out this way but Amazon always seems to be at least a few dollars cheapest than the official Zippo website.

  3. Hello!  I thoroughly enjoyed reading your story, and I was delighted to see that it is a work of fiction.  I found the topic interesting, and the main character is pleasant and seems determined, yet practical.  I used to be a smoker and always enjoyed my Zippo.  I would buy one when I was able to, and I never settled for a plain Zippo.  One of my favorites was gold-finished, with a deck of cards on it that revealed a King and an Ace when you opened the top.  It was one of the more expensive ones, but I got a lot of compliments for it being unique.

    I don’t know very much about Elston at all, nor do I understand what is behind his passion for Zippo lighters.  When did his passion for them start?  How old was he when he got his first Zippo?  Where is his family?  Do any of them have a passion for Zippos like he does?  Does he repair Zippos for others?  How big is his collection?

    I know that I’ve asked a lot of questions, but I was drawn into the story and was wanting to know more information.

    Keep up the storytelling!

    All the best,


    1. Thank you Sherry, I appreciate your comment and like what you said about never buying the plain Zippo. That’s one of the things that make carrying a Zippo so cool is they have been engraved or otherwise embellished by so many brands and featuring many themes as to make it possible for everyone to carry a Zippo that feels special to them.

      In regard to your questions about Elston’s background, I would only say that this is serialized fiction that isn’t meant to tell a complete story every time but to build and develop on what has been revealed in the story so far. I don’t want to give anything away to those who may be reading in order and it is certainly not necessary to read the stories in this fashion but starting at Volume 1 and continuing to the end will give the reader the entire story that has been revealed thus far.

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