Are Vintage Cigarette Lighters Collectibles? Maybe

Is there any real value in all those so-called collectible lighters?

Zippo, Ronson, Dunhill and the like…

We’ve all heard the distinctive “ping” sound made famous by the classic Zippo Windproof Lighter. Less common but just as useful is the American made Dunhill Service Lighter or trench lighter which may actually be the most dependable lighter that I myself have ever owned. And how about those old fancy Ronson Case and Table lighters? If you’re asking, “Are vintage cigarette lighters collectibles?”

In my experience most of these old lighters do have value. The question is how do we measure it?

Show me the money!

There are published price guides out there that you can consult. In today’s market I would question the validity of any source that has not taken into account the emergence of today’s global marketplace. There are online price guides that you can access for a monthly or yearly fee. These online services will usually compile verified online purchases to give you an idea what your lighter might be worth.

If we are talking dollar value then the easiest, cheapest thing for you to do is head over to EBay and perform a search using all the info you already know about the lighter in question. Perform an advanced search for sold items that match your criteria that way you can come up with a consensus of what similar lighters have actually sold for.

Now, that’s not to say that someone else wouldn’t pay more. You can always market to a particular audience or group but EBay is a relatively reasonable facsimile of a modern market price guide. Remember, just because someone lists a lighter for a certain amount doesn’t necessarily mean that lighter is worth it. Also remember, just because you don’t want to pay a certain amount doesn’t mean that lighter is not worth it. I’ll try to write more about it later but for now just send a message if you have questions about EBay.

Do these old lighters have some other kind of value?

Oh boy! This is where it gets fun for me because this is how I got started. I’m a lighter mechanic, that’s what I do. Nothing brings me more joy than taking a beautiful, well-designed piece of equipment that someone else deemed worthless and making it make fire again.

Sometimes it’s simple, stuck flint or a pinched wick. Other times it might take a little while to hunt down the problem but it sure feels good when you finally fix it. And some of them basically are worthless. If they won’t make fire then they could still hold some value as curiosity pieces.

To me, at least, there is real value in the tool itself and what that tool can accomplish. The simple fact that the vast majority of these lighters are refillable should be enough to get consumer’s attentions. There are countless upon multitudes of already manufactured lighters: surplus, new old stock, vintage resell, however you go about getting yourself one.

Vintage Zippo Lighter
Zippo Brass Venetian Lighter

Do we like plastic?

All the worry about pollution and the environment seems insincere when you consider the rate at which we consumers purchase these plastic products rather than utilizing the vast stockpile of refillable reusable repurposable lighters left over from the past century.

We all know that plastic is more often than not the most convenient option not necessarily the most sturdy or cost effective. I never heard anybody brag about something being made of plastic. Fine wood, marble, glass, gold, silver or even steel? Sure, but we all know plastic is cheap.

I’d much rather the lighter I carry be a well-made piece of equipment than a hunk of plastic that may or may not work. Once you have some experience with a particular lighter you tend to recognize some distinct characteristics like maybe the flame always acts erratic shortly before it runs out of fluid. Noting these characteristics can help offset some of the inconvenience of a refillable lighter, mainly the danger of running out of fuel. But if you can afford to smoke then you can afford a second lighter so that shouldn’t be a problem.

And seriously, if it’s bad for the environment to be producing all this plastic then why not do what we can to try to make what difference we can where and when we are able?

I was in my attic a while back looking through some things I hadn’t seen in probably 20 yrs. There was an old Bic lighter in there. I picked it up and pressed the button and heard that familiar hiss. So I’m not telling you to throw those plastic disposable lighters away. If they’ll hold gas for 20 yrs in the fluctuating temperatures of an attic then I would definitely stash them somewhere. But I wouldn’t buy any more.

Something he can hold on to.

You ever try to light a cigarette in the middle of the night and almost catch your sleeping bag on fire? No? Well, it happens. In my experience however, the more familiar you are with your lighter the less likely you are to do this. It’s a simple fact, my lighter knows the palm of my hand like the back of its own and vice-versa.
I hate to say it but the pocket lighter was probably the original fidget spinner. It could be a nine pound hammer, gun in your pocket or? “Nah, he’s just playing with his lighter.” The lighter you choose to carry will usually say something about you. Maybe your name or your job title. It could be a torch fueled by butane. Or perchance, a match or the flame of a kitchen stove. For me it was at one point the only thing in my life that I felt like I had any control over. I had all kinds of problems that I could not even address much less fix. But I could fix the lighters so I did.

One man's junk...
Old Zippos

 

I’m always here, working on something. All questions and comments are welcomed. You can join our email list to the right and also Subscribe to the DependableFlame YouTube channel.

Joseph

Author: Joseph

After 25 yrs working for the government, I couldn't be more happy than I am working on old lighters. Be cautious when anyone tells you what you need or have to do...

4 thoughts on “Are Vintage Cigarette Lighters Collectibles? Maybe”

  1. When I was younger, I kept a Zippo lighter that my father used when he was in the military during the late 40’s. I just remembered that it had a coin on it, probably from somewhere that he visited, and he may have even welded the coin on. I thought it was so cool at the time cause it was a really old Zippo. As time went by I do not know what happened to it and wished I still had it. It is so cool to read about how these older lighters have become a collector item. How well do newer Zippo lighters hold up to the older ones? I would imaging the vintage ones where crafted so well.

    1. Thanks for the interest, Christopher. The truly “old” Zippos definitely have more value but that’s just because of the collector aspect. Zippo still makes top quality lighters, no doubt about it. Please let me know any other topics you would like to discuss here or if you need help fixing a lighter!

  2. I have one camlighter, made in England, World pats pending, REG, 849172. I want know price that. Thank’s

    1. Hello, Saeed. The Camlighter is relatively rare and certainly collectible, there are a few currently listed on Ebay. A quick check of Worthpoint showed one example selling for over $130, while another sold for less than $10 with several others spotted in at a variety of points in between.

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