Zippo has produced over 425 million lighters since 1933, providing an amazing array of collectibles. Their standard wick lighter has sported thousands of decorations, featuring military insignias, company advertising, artistic designs and commemorative issues. Learning to judge the relative value of these lighters can be a rewarding endeavor.
Familiarize yourself with Zippo lighters. Learn how to identify the techniques of airbrushing, engraving and metallique. Study the history of special issues, such as the unique model produced during World War II solely for military sale.
Determine the date of manufacture. In the 1950s, Zippo began a system of date codes for quality control. You'll find these marks stamped on the bottom of the lighter and you can use this to determine the age. You can date earlier models by variations of the wording and patent numbers.
Rate the condition. Collectors apply a grading scale similar to that used in coins and other collectibles to lighters, ranging from excellent to poor. Check the lid. If the lighter has the original box and printed inserts, it could add to the value, especially for commemorative issues.
Join some collectors' clubs. Newsletters and forums are a great way to get a feel for trends and pricing. Zippo Click, the official company club, provides contact information to other clubs worldwide. See the Resources for the Zippo Click company club web address.
If the lighter insert is replaced through the lifetime guarantee, Zippo will also return the original to insure the collectible status.