Best Practices To Protect Yourself When Collecting, Buying And Paying For Vintage Cigarette Lighters

Today we will cover some common pitfalls to avoid when buying and paying for the vintage cigarette lighters you accumulate for your collection. Some of these are relevant to Ebay and other online sources for vintage lighters such as Deal Or No Deal and other selling groups on Facebook. Other risks may be present regardless of the platform facilitating your purchase. All of these hazards can be avoided with a little foresight when making a purchase.

What Could Go Wrong?

We’ve all seen red flags when browsing Ebay listings for old petrol lighters that give us pause or perhaps even turn us off from buying a lighter all together. Every seller is different, therefore we should not necessarily expect every seller to operate in the exact same manner. We should expect each seller to deal honestly though and uphold some sort of standard for the service a buyer can expect when making a purchase from them.

Some buyers feel that lack of experience is one of those red flags that should be noted and possibly even warrant disqualification for consideration of a purchase to be made from a specific seller. A buyer adhering to this standard might automatically remove from consideration any seller with single digit or maybe less than twenty-five feedback ratings.

I tend to look at the situation a little different than that as every seller has to start somewhere and being inexperienced or new does not necessarily mean the seller is bad or can’t be trusted. For this reason, I may pay a little more attention to this kind of new seller but I wouldn’t make that a point that disqualified their goods from my purchasing them.

A seller of any feedback level or amount of experience should be avoided though if they have consistent neutral or negative feedback. People can make mistakes and shouldn’t necessarily be put out of business for them but Ebay sellers who constantly garner negative feedback are doing something to earn it and buyers would do well to not ignore those ratings.

Woe Is Me!

A grain of prudence may be called for but we could all use a wary eye from time to time anyway even when we feel a seller can be trusted because these are simply fallible people after all and people do make mistakes. I’ve been bitten in the past, lulled by my sense of familiarity with a buyer to the point that I fail to read a listing thoroughly, neglect to pay proper attention to

An individual has two options when sending payment via PayPal.

photos provided(or sometimes to key photos which are absent) or in one way or another fail to pick up in necessary information that has been left out of the listing.

In other words, the buyer has to do their homework and failing to do so can cost a collector dearly. A thorough description from a trusted seller is always best but accurate descriptions of old cigarette lighters are few and far between and many so-called lighter “dealers” actually have no idea what they are peddling.

Any prospective buyer must become proficient at reading between the lines of both descriptions and photos as there is usually a story being told that runs counter to typical assumptions. Much of the time that story is born out of ignorance. For instance, I see lighters listed all the time with a description like, “the wheel turns freely, so you should just be able to add a new flint.” When in reality, a spinning file wheel means there’s no tension on the wheel and therefore old, degraded flint is going to have to be cleared from the tube before the lighter can be functional.

Better Safe Than Sorry…

There’s this notion flying around by many sellers and buyers in the DOND Facebook groups that PayPal “Friends and Family”(F&F) payments should be the standard and not be questioned by any perspective buyer. I have no problem using a F&F payment when I have experience with and feel that I can trust the seller. I have been around the pages enough that I would even

Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

be comfortable using F&F for payments to many sellers who I haven’t bought from previously simply because I have seen over time how those specific sellers have treated and grown their customer base over the yrs.

A F&F payment provides no protections to the buyer though and can definitely be a risk. I would be leery of any seller who demands F&F payments. Goods and Services(G&S) payments are designed exactly for this situation where you don’t actually know the individual you are transacting payment with. A good seller will allow a G&S payment at least the first time in order to quell any misgivings a buyer might have and should even be happy to allow ongoing G&S payments, perhaps with the buyer offsetting the fees associated with this type of payment by adding an extra percentage to their payment to make up for fees the seller will be charged by the payment platform.

I understand the desire for sellers to avoid paying anything that cuts into their profit margin but forcing the buyer to shoulder all the risk is not good business. That is a business model that shirks responsibility for real world concerns and places them squarely at the feet of the buyer.

A Little Common Sense Goes A Long Way

Trust should go both ways in any legitimate transaction and a buyer caught looking the other way can quickly find themselves without their cash. If you don’t personally know the person you are sending the F&F PayPal payment

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

to, then they are not your friend or family and may leave you out in the cold without your money. Sellers pay a small fee on G&S payments and those fees are what most sellers are trying to avoid.

If a seller is not comfortable taking that risk there’s no reason not to at least allow the buyer to pay to offset the difference. I certainly have many policies as a seller that I won’t even consider budging off from but I never set any policy that puts my customer(the buyer) at a disadvantage to me when it comes to the risk being taken when money is laid out.

I determined many yrs ago that because of limitations and lack of tracking ability across foreign postal systems that I would no longer ship any of our Ebay listings to international addresses. There was a risk involved when I couldn’t prove delivery because of the lack of tracking. I actually lost an item I sold to international buyers twice, not necessarily because it didn’t arrive but because I couldn’t prove through tracking that it was delivered. Sometimes sellers have to alter policies that are not right for themselves or their buyers but they don’t have to do it at the expense of the buyer!

Keep All Your Feelings Warm And Fuzzy

The vintage cigarette lighter hobby is generally a terrific place to be. A modicum of caution will typically serve you well and likely keep you happy when it comes to judging and purchasing lighters that are listed on Ebay

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

and other online auctions sites.

But I have seen folks ripped off in the DOND and other Facebook groups that allow for selling of lighters and other various items. Some of the sellers in those groups may be your friends, more likely they are people you are acquainted with and may or may not actually even know at all!

If they are a good seller, they will understand your concern. If they are a good, conscientious seller they will work with your G&S payment even if they ask you to kick in a little extra to cover the costs of their fees. If they demand a Friends & Family PayPal payment from someone they do not know and more importantly from someone who does not know them, then I would see that as a red flag and I would avoid that seller at all costs. This way you don’t end up asking questions of the group about this seller or that who took your money and never sent the lighters.

It’s better to be careful than to be taken for all your money!

Please leave any comments or questions you may have in the comments section below this or any other article at

Please check out our YouTube channel and tell all your friends and family

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about the camaraderie to be had and fellowship discussing old petrol lighters, ashtrays, tobacciana and other useful mechanisms. We conduct a live stream called Coffee And Lighters Live! every Tuesday morning @10am central and publish show & tell and instructional lighter repair demonstration videos most weekday mornings.

Until next time…✌️

Author: Joseph

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

18 thoughts on “Best Practices To Protect Yourself When Collecting, Buying And Paying For Vintage Cigarette Lighters”

  1. Thanks for sharing this informative blog post about best practices for collecting, buying, and paying for vintage cigarette lighters! As a collector myself, I found your article to be both helpful and practical.

    One aspect of your post that I found particularly valuable was the emphasis on the importance of doing research and due diligence when purchasing vintage lighters. It’s crucial to know what you’re buying and to be aware of any potential red flags or warning signs that might indicate that a lighter is a fake or a reproduction.

    I also acknowledge your discussion of the different types of vintage lighters, as well as the various methods for verifying their authenticity. 

    It’s clear that there is a lot to learn about the world of vintage lighter collecting, and your post provides a great starting point for those who are new to the hobby.

    1. I appreciate you stopping by Dave and glad to fill you in on some of the nuances surrounding protecting one’s self when paying for vintage lighters or really anything else you might purchase online and pay using PayPal. The hobby is a very broad one that includes lighters, ashtrays, tobacciana and other useful mechanisms. I would love to discuss it with you further under any article here at the site or in the comments of any of our YouTube videos.✌️ 

  2. Its crazy I have never thought about buying vintage cigarette lighters until I read this article, HA! I am a buyer and seller myself and this seems like a good idea to look into other than building collections for vintage comic books and video games. I typically only trade in those categories but man they are getting so competitive here lately. 

    This is super informative, thanks so much!

    1. Thank you Eric, I appreciate your insight greatly as another collector and seller of “old” things! Comic books and video games can be fun to collect and also worthwhile to sell, your effort normally being rewarded. But those two categories are but a drop in the bucket compared with the hundreds, if not thousands of different manufacturers and models of cigarette lighters that have been produced over the yrs. Add to lighters the number of ashtrays, tobacciana items and other useful mechanisms and you have a market rife with opportunity. I hope to see you around my friend!

  3. Thank you for your educational post. I had no idea that there was an F&F payment. I thought everything was G&S automatically. 

    I have to admit that I sometimes do not read the fine print only to get the wrong product. I may have looked at the photo and the photo was wrong. 

    I do look at reviews but I also try to give new sellers a chance to make money and have paid a little more just to help them out. 

    Thanks for the information! I didn’t realize there was so much to consider when buying a vintage lighter. 

    1. Thank you for stopping by Susan, I really appreciate all your insight! The Friends and Family payment issue is a really sticking point for some sellers and I just don’t think the mindset is warranted. I have seen several post from buyer in these groups now where they’re crying because they have been scammed out of their money. What’s weird is many of these buyers get their feelings hurt when someone brings up the fact the should have used the F&F option. If they got ripped off it seems obvious to me they didn’t know the seller well enough and there is an easy remedy to having this situation happen to you again.!

  4. I have never seen an article on vintage cigarette lighters.  My father had about 12 cigarette lights which we have put in a safety deposit box.  Some have what I assume is a pearl face.  Some have a monogram is the face.  He has a couple that are white, ornate glass more like a small candy dish than a cigarette lighter.  You article is unique to me, informative and eye opening.  I think I am going to check out the lighters and see what they are worth.  Maybe I will be the seller in your article rather than the buyer.  Thanks so much for helping me think about these lighters that Dad used so many years ago.


    1. Hey Jim, I am glad you read the article and found it useful. Maybe you have found a second career! Selling old lighters is a lot of fun and a little off the beaten path of typical jobs that most people do but there are hustles out there for those that don’t mind putting in the work and it never gets boring.

      Well maybe working on the same Ronson lighters all the time but then you come across one that makes it all worthwhile.

      Let me know if you have any unanswered questions about your father’s lighters.

  5. Thank you for the interesting tips. Fair enough, you’re right ” Trust should go both ways in any legitimate transaction.”

    Can you give me a reason to trust a seller with many negative reviews? Have you ever purchased items from a seller that has many negative reviews? , me never 

    I appreciate it, and I’ll make sure to be on the live stream on “Coffee And Lighters ” with you guys to learn more this Tuesday

    1. Hello Ziya, thank you for stopping by and reading the article. I really appreciate you input!

      I would never trust a seller with multiple ongoing negative feedback rating on their Ebay account. I always believe in giving folks a chance to prove themselves but I feel that negative feedback to that level means they have already proven themselves to be either a bad seller or simply in over their heads.

      I hope you will join us for the live stream, I really is a friendly and informative hang!

  6. I think that your article on best practices for protecting yourself when collecting vintage cigarette lighters is a great example of how important it is to be informed and proactive when engaging in collecting and purchasing activities. Your insights and recommendations, as well as your emphasis on the importance of research and caution, make the article a valuable resource for anyone interested in collecting vintage items. I appreciate the time and effort you put into creating such an informative and helpful resource.

    1. Thank you Ronnie, I really appreciate you support! Some people are just too trusting. I understand the mentality of wanting to believe that people won’t scam or rip off a fellow human being but the fact we are all fallen human beings should be the first clue that you can’t just blindly trust every seller that you encounter. Especially in a setting like a DOND Facebook page where there are no controls in place to keep a seller honest if they decide not to behave in an honest manner.

  7. I did not know that people collect vintage lighters. However, it does make sense as a lot of antique cigarette lighters are uniquely crafted and/or beautifully ornate!

    You have provided some great tips in this article, like doing your research and getting a good idea of what you are buying and whether it’s legit. Also, I have been scammed on an online marketplace before with a seller just stalling and coming up with excuse after excuse until the time to file a claim ran out, so that’s yet another red flag to watch for

    1. Thank you Delaney, I’m thrilled that you found the article useful and also agree with your point of bad sellers putting a buyer off until the time to file a claim has expired. That is a real issue, just one that I myself have not actually been victimized by or had any experience with.

      I’m not sure if Paypal has the same kind of timeline but Ebay certainly has time limits and a buyer who sleeps on his situation could find himself out in the cold when trying to recoup his cash.

  8. What a great article.  I am so glad I came across it.  There is such great information in here that I would have never thought of before reading this.  Each point you make is really important if you are a new collector like me.  

    I really like the point you bring up about friends and family type payment methods.  You are afforded a lot more protection if you do not use this type of payment method.  

    I also like your advice to keep cool.  Ultimately, like with anything in life… you win some, you lose some, and this is supposed to be a fun hobby!  

    I look forward to looking through your site to gain some more insight into the intriguing world of antique flames.  Glad to have found a likeminded soul.  

    Thanks again. 

    1. Thank you Ashley, I am glad you found us as well. Don’t hesitate to give a shout if you run into any problems finding the information you are looking for.

      I have written an article that is geared toward the beginning collector and would be a terrific place for you to start.

      There may be a million differences about the way that vintage petrol lighters look but they all operate off the same principles and there really are very few unique situations when repairing or getting one back into working order.

  9. In this article, you have shared some great tips such as: Do your research and think carefully about what you are buying and whether it is legal. I have also been scammed in online marketplaces before. The seller kept repeating excuses until it was time to file a claim. This is another red flag to watch out for.

    1. Yes John there are pitfalls all over the place when it come to purchasing old or any collectible type items from really any online marketplace. Buyers should quickly be wary of any seller who doesn’t fulfill his responsibilities as such in a timely manner.

      I haven’t run into too much of a problem of folks selling items that are actually illegal. The bigger problem is some of the foreign postal systems treating lighters like they were dangerous when in reality an unfueled petrol lighter isn’t a danger to anyone!

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