How old is my lighter?
This page is a general guide to the earliest Zippo lighters. During the early years of the company many minor alterations and test models were made. The first lighters made by Zippo were much squarer than those seen today as originally the lighter cases were made from tubing with the base soldered on. were also taller than the current models.
The "Canned bottom" where the base of the lighter is indented first appeared in The lighters above were made from a rectangular tube, with the bases soldered on. Early Zippo lighters command a high price and are difficult to obtain. Building a collection of these would therefore take a considerable amount of both time and money. Like lighters from other years, there are significant variations in the manufacturing process that can help determine the exact year of production.
Unfortunately I do not have the time or the money to build up a collection that will allow me to make the comparisons seen on the rest of the dating pages. There is however a Japanese collector, who like me, loves attention to detail, and has produced an excellent descriptive work on dating zippo slim lighters from this era the English version of which is here. When America entered the Second World War, many materials were restricted to military use.
Both Brass and Chrome became scarce and Zippo had to use other materials. The obvious choice was Steel, but this presents two problems. Firstly, it is porous and secondly it is susceptible to rust. In order to overcome this it was decided to paint the lighter bodies with a coating dating zippo slim lighters black paint. The finished body was then baked which causes the paint to "crackle" These lighters became known as Black Crackles.
These lighters have either a flat or a rounded out bottom and are still stamped with the Zippo logo, although this is not visible unless the paint has worn off. Some lighters in this period were incorrectly stamped with the patent numberthe second 2 being missed out in error. Because of wear it is often difficult to see which number is stamped, so the symbol before the dating zippo slim lighters number is sometimes the only way to tell.
There are also a number of lighters where dating zippo slim lighters lighter is stamped on both the top and the bottom and I have heard reports of lighters with the correct patent number on one end and the wrong patent number on the other. The lighters will have a 4 barrel hinge. In this was altered to a 3 barrel with the centre barrel being longer than the two outer barrels. It may be possible to see the word "Zippo" through the paint, but other details will not be clear.
The bottom line reads PAT. The earliest inserts had no markings and again there were various modifications over the early years, the most comprehensive description of which can be found here. Throughout the time span in this section the pads at the bottom of the insert could be made from a variety of materials. Note the "Pat Pending" Logo. After the patent was granted the patent number was shown on the base of the lighter. Around the lighter became more rounded, as the case was made from a single metal sheet, which ended the need to solder on the base.
This lighter has the original paint intact. This lighter has all the paint worn off and the bottom stamp is clearly visible. The wear on these lighters can often make it difficult to dating zippo slim lighters read the bottom stamp. Dating zippo slim lighters lighters in this period had an incorrect patent number. Note the use of the symbol. Material - Chrome over Brass Holes - 16 No Markings Chimney - Closed Flint Wheel - Horizontal Cam - Square Pad - None. Material - Chrome over Brass Holes - 14 No Mombasa dating club Chimney - Closed Flint Wheel - Horizontal Cam - Square Pad - None.
Material - Steel Holes - 14 No Markings Chimney - Closed Flint Wheel - Horizontal Cam - Rounded Pad - None. Material - Steel Holes - 14 3 - Flat Top Chimney - Closed Flint Wheel - Horizontal Cam - Rounded Pad - Cigarette Filter. Material - Nickel Dating zippo slim lighters Holes - 14 3 - Flat Top Chimney - Closed Flint Wheel - Horizontal Cam - Rounded Pad - Felt.