Not only do there appear to be multiple “Vernon” lighters but the actual manufacturer of the example we scrutinize today brings even more vintage brands into the conversation.
I’m Looking For Something
As a seller of vintage cigarette lighters, I have sort of a broad template exemplifying the ideal lighter I link to sell in my Ebay Store. There are a list of criteria though I don’t think any of it has ever been written down especially in the form of a list. I have an eye at least for some of the stuff that will sell. Maybe it’s an enameled emblem, perhaps a rare or interesting mechanism or eye-catching engraving. There are lighters I just know right away, even if I had been ignorant of its existence a few minutes prior. I have bought a few like that.
Some of those criteria are very basic and my first consideration is the basest of all. Cleanliness(or really condition in general) comes at a premium when dealing with aged old machines, abandoned to time and now destined for rehabilitation.
It’s obviously a lot more fun showing off a “mint” looking lighter with clean innards than explaining or settling for a blemished lighter. But sometimes when dealing with vintage, blemished is the best you can get. So before I had even looked at the base of what I thought was a Storm King judging off the ribbed static design of the case, I knew I was likely to buy it because not only did it look new, clean and have relatively few blemishes but it met my other favorite benchmark which practically guarantees I am going to purchase a vintage petrol lighter if it is clean: it was priced under five dollars!
What’s In A Name?
This wasn’t my first Vernon Lighter. The first was silver tone but the same case design advertising Emken Realty. That lighter was fairly void of any other information with the insert being unmarked and the phone number printed on the front having no area code.
There was also a semi-automatic precursor to the Thorens type, like the Kron or Hahway Imperator that was called “Vernon” and I would have immediately discounted this as the same lighter by the same company if I hadn’t seen this done by the Austrian Revolt lighter.
The Arthur Dubsky designed Revolt was another semi-automatic from the 1910s but I believe the name was later recycled by the same or descendant company for the 1960’s flip-top(CHAMP Austria clone) petrol lighter. Bowers did it with the Storm Master name as well, using it at the beginning for one lighter and bringing it back later for another.
Sounds similar to the way that automobile manufacturers kept the same model name and changed the body style of the car every few yrs. Ronson did the exact same thing with their butane lighters calling them all Varaflame. I make no assertion either way, concerning this lighter’s relation to the much earlier semi-automatic. I’m only positing what I’ve observed.
A google search for “first state bank Cafky” returns some documents dated 2011 from an interview conducted by the Oklahoma History Center at okhistory.org where they talk of the Cafky family taking over the Bank of Beaver City sometime around 1912 or 1913 and maintaining control until the 1970s.
Our man, John G. Cafky Operated the First State Bank of Forgan, Oklahoma which a photo in a book listed on Google Books called Beaver County claims the bank in Forgan changed its name to the Bank of Beaver after being purchased by the Cafky family. This lighter doesn’t seem to bear that out as I believe it was made in the 1960s, or perhaps the name was changed back at a later date.
I had an uncle who was the president of a bank in small town Oklahoma. That’s kind of funny considering today’s YouTube video involved some other uncles and an heirloom one of them gave me. Looking up background information for Forgan brought back memories I haven’t dwelt on much of late. Images of crops running the highways beside us, outrunning us where ever we went. Stagnant, not forgotten but waiting to be revisited, perhaps driven once more with additional or different companionship.
John’s brother, George is credited in these same sources with operating the Bank of Beaver. Though there does seem to be some confusion about the actual times the Cafky family was in control of the different banks, it is still enlightening and corroborating background information to this old piece of advertising and relic of that Main St. America one passes through a thousand times in every state yet each manages to be all its own.
I don’t care what this lighter is marked on the bottom, you will never convince me it was not made in the Murfreesboro factory of Park Industries. Okay, maybe I’m not one hundred percent on the Murfreesboro part because Park made plenty of aluminum constructed lighters when they were located in Springfield, Illinois, though I do believe the proliferation of plastic flint spring screw equipped aluminum inserts to be a product of the later, Murfreesboro era.
Still, it has to be a Park Industries product at the very least. It has all the characteristics, though the insert is void of any markings. I have previously encountered otherwise branded or lighters simply marked “MADE IN U.S.A.” on the bottom of the case which held an insert clearly marked “Precision Made By Park Industries” so there is much precedence confirming Park inserts inside lighters marked with alternate branding.
I also seem to recall some discussion of manufacturers selling their inserts to companies who used them in their own bases or lighters. I think that was more of a table lighter thing with the little round automatic petrol inserts and Roseart Zippos being examples that employed this tactic.
Is There Such A Thing As An Insignificant Lighter?
There are definitely lighters that are of a higher quality than others. I see folks often in the Facebook lighter groups like Zippos Addicts and OTLS-On The Lighter Side who regularly post lighters of a caliber which are in a different league from anything that I have owned thus far. Some of the embellishments and combinations that have been produced stretch the boundaries of reason.
I’m talking about solid gold lift-arm lighters with a watch embedded or painted in enamel. Unused Zippos from the 1940s laying there in a box like the jeweler had just unpacked them. Dunhill London or Paris lighters adorned with precious gems or royal engravings.
I read an account this past week about a teenage boy who showed up at an OTLS lighter show many yrs ago. The young man was new to the hobby and enthusiastic for the Bic lighters he proudly displayed but had his spark for the hobby stolen when many inconsiderate convention attendees made negative comments about his collection. I have made it clear how I feel about Bic lighters or plastic products in general: I view them as cheap, bad for the environment and not my cup of tea.
Taking the stance that plastic has no place in my collection and is not a responsible, new purchase is quite different in my mind than directly commenting on the work of another lighter collector. First of all, a person could put together a Bic, Scripto or other disposable plastic butane lighter collection without ever purchasing one new themselves! A Bic can be salvaged just as well as any other lighter.
Secondly, there are appropriate places to make your opinion known and even then discretion is a virtue. This website is mine and I will disseminate what I wish however I choose to do so. I like to be helpful and also don’t want people to think I am a jerk so hopefully, I do everything with kindness but if I chose to be a butthole here on my site, I would have the right to do that. It would be dumb but I’m just playing devil’s advocate for argument’s sake.
I have seen a well-known, famous lighter dealer completely torpedo another seller’s Facebook “Deal or No Deal” post by making his opinion known, unsolicited! That’s an asshole move if you ask me.
It is always allowed of course, to make one’s opinion known when opinions are being asked for. It’s even okay to shed light on a post where information may be lacking. But to make your opinion known about a repair that was clearly disclosed in the listing goes beyond the purview of reasonable and honorable “dealing”. That behavior is no better than those adults who laughed that teenage boy and his Bic collection out of the hobby.
Help Us Spread The Word
Please leave a comment at the bottom of this page. We have begun something here and the momentum must keep gaining! Your comment on this page will help the YouTube channel and the work done bringing more repair and show and tell videos
far beyond what I would have ever believed. DO NOT take your contribution lightly! There is a place in this hobby for everyone, even the Bic and butane collectors.
I would love to interact on the DependableFlame.com Facebook Page regarding trades, repair questions, etc. Really anything that requires you to post a picture.
If you don’t know about our YouTube channel, check it out, subscribe and tell all your friends! We publish new video every weekday morning @8am central.
Check out and comment on the journal article I publish every Sunday evening.
Until next time…