Information on Zippo Lighter Products

Lighter Maintenence, Information and Manufacturing Dates

Zippo Lighter Information

What is a “Zippo

  Zippo lighter is a refillable, metal lighter manufactured by the Zippo Manufacturing Company of Bradford Pennsylvania. Thousands of different styles and designs have been produced in the seven decades since their introduction. They are frequently collected.

  George G. Blaisdell founded the Zippo Manufacturing Company in 1932, and produced the first Zippo lighter in early 1933, being inspired by an Austrian cigarette lighter of similar design. It got its name because Blaisdell liked the sound of the word "zipper" and "zippo" sounded more modern.
On March 3, 1936, patent was granted for the lighter.

  In 2002 Zippo expanded its product line to include a variety of utility-style multi-purpose lighters, known as the Zippo MPL. This was followed in 2005 with the Outdoor Utility Lighter, known as the OUL. These lighters are fuelled with butane. In August 2007 Zippo released a new butane cigarette lighter called the Zippo BLU. A museum called Zippo/Case visitors center is located in Bradford, PA at 1932 Zippo Drive. This 15,000 square foot  building contains many rare and custom made Zippo lighters. The museum also contains an enormous collection of Case knives. Since the Zippo company's 60th anniversary in 1992, annual editions have been produced for worldwide Zippo collectors.Other products from Zippo's diverse line include a variety of pocket knives, key holders, money clips, writing instruments and tape measures.

  From 1949 to 2002 Zippos were also produced in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.
  Since 1933, over 400,000,000 Zippo lighters have been produced 

  The cases of Zippo lighters are typically made of metal and are rectangular-shaped with a hinged top. Inside the case are the works of the lighter: the spring-toggle lever that keeps the top closed, the wick, windscreen, thumb wheel, and flint, all of which are mounted on an open-bottom metal box that is slightly smaller than the bottom of the outer case, and into which it slips snugly.
  The hollow part of the interior box encloses a rayon batt which is in contact with the wick. The fuel, a volatile flammable liquid commonly known as lighter fluid (usually naphtha), is poured into the batt, which traps it.
  It also contains a tube that holds a short, cylindrical flint. The tube has an interior spring and exterior cap-screw that keeps the flint in constant contact with the exterior thumb-wheel. Spinning this rough-surfaced wheel against flint results in a spark that ignites the fluid in the wick.
  The batt used to have a small hole in the bottom to facilitate easier filling of lighter fluid; it was often used as a place to store extra flints. Newer models do not always have the hole, and instead have a flap in the bottom of the batt (with the hinge on one of the short edges).

  The words "LIFT TO FILL" are stamped in black ink multiple times on the bottom, with the intention being that the user should lift the flap and squirt the fuel in to the batt material under the flap.  
  All parts of the lighter are replaceable.
  In all there are 22 parts, and the Zippo lighter requires 108 manufacturing operations.

Anatomy of a Zippo

Zippo World War ll
  No other event in history increased the popularity of Zippo lighters more than World War II.
From 1943 until the end of World War II, Zippo's entire production was shipped to Army Exchanges and Naval ship stores for the soldiers in combat around the world.

  Beginning in 1939, World War II had a profound effect on Zippo. Upon America‚Äôs entry into the war, Zippo ceased production of lighters for consumer markets and dedicated all manufacturing to the U.S. military.
  The military initiative led to the production of the steel-case Zippo lighter with black crackle finish. The fact that millions of American military personnel carried the lighter into battle was a significant catalyst in establishing Zippo as an icon of America throughout the world.

  Supplying the military market resulted in full production for the plant. This enabled Zippo to be strong financially and made it a viable company.

  After World War II, the Zippo lighter became increasingly used in advertising by companies large and small through the 1960s.Many of the early advertising Zippo lighters are works of art painted by hand, and as technology has evolved, so has the design and finish of the Zippo lighter.

The basic mechanism of the Zippo lighter however has remained unchanged over the years.

Zippo Lighter Dates of Manufacture

  Most lighters fabricated between 1933 and 1957 can be identified by style and model and the patent or patent-pending marks. 
  1933 - Patent Pending
  1937 - Patent 2032695
  1942-1946 - Black Crackle, Patent 203695 (This number was stamped in error, it should have been Patent 2032695.)
  1949 – 1957- Patent 2517191 with patent pending. (
Zippo records indicate an overlap of bottom stamp configurations from 1949-1957. Also, some lighters produced between 1955-57 were date coded, however, specifics remain unclear.
  By 1959 the date coding was fully in effect .)


From mid-1955 Zippo started year coding their lighters by the use of dots (.).

Zippo Lighter Products

Date Left Side of lighter Right Side of lighter
1958 .... ....
1959 .... ...
1960 ... ...
1961 ... ..
1962 .. ..
1963 .. .
1964 . .
1965 .  


  From 1966 until 1973 the year code was denoted by combinations of vertical lines (|).
  From 1974 until 1981 the coding comprised combinations of forward slashes (/), and from 1982 until June 1986 the coding was by backslash (\).

Zippo Lighter Products

Zippo Lighter Products
Date Left side of lighter Right side of lighter
1968 III III
1969 III II
1970 II II
1971 II I
1972 I I
1973 I  
1974 //// ////
1975 //// ///
1976 /// ///
1977 /// //
1978 // //

  1979 - An error was made in the date code. One of the slash marks was removed from the left of the Zippo trademark instead of being removed from the right; thus the code read: / //.
This date code error was corrected within the same year to read: // /.

Date Left side of lighter Right side of lighter
1980 / /
1981 /  
1982 \\\\ \\\\
1983 \\\\ \\\
1984 \\\ \\\
1985 \\\ \\
1986 \\ \\


     In July 1986, Zippo began including a lot code on all lighters showing the month and year of production. On the left of the underside was stamped a letter A–L, denoting the month (A = January, B = February, et cetera). On the right was a Roman numeral which denoted the year, beginning with II in 1986.
  Thus a Zippo stamped D XV was made in April, 1999.

Zippo Lighter Products 

Date Left side of lighter Right side of lighter
1986 G-L II
1987 A-L III
1988 A-L IV
1989 A-L V
1990 A-L VI
1991 A-L VII
1992 A-L VIII
1993 A-L IX
1994 A-L X
1995 A-L XI
1996 A-L XII
1997 A-L XIII
1998 A-L XIV
1999 A-L XV
2000 A-L XVI

  In 2000, Zippo altered this system, changing the Roman numerals to more conventional Arabic numerals.
  Thus a Zippo made in January 2004 was stamped A 04 and a lighter made in March 2001 was stamped C 01.

Zippo Lighter Products



Zippo Myths

  There was a myth that Zippo lighters were made by prisoners, and the number identified the prisoner, or their crime and sentence length. 

             All Genuine Zippo Lighters were manufactured in either Bradford PA or Niagara Falls ON, by workers that were paid for their labor.

  Another myth was that a Zippo stamped 'H' was inferior to one stamped 'A'.

             There is absolutely no difference between a lighter stamped with an 'A' or a 'H', other than its month of manufacture.

Usage Instructions

Zippo Lighter Products

Changing the Flint:
  Remove the inside unit from the case. Unscrew the flint spring from the bottom of the inside unit. Remove screw and attached spring. Be sure the remainder of the old flint has been removed from the flint tube.
  Place new flint in tube, replace spring and screw lightly. Make sure screw is turned as far as it will go, otherwise the cover will not close completely.

Changing the Wick:
  Remove the inside unit from the case. Unscrew the flint spring from the bottom of the inside unit. Remove screw and attached spring. Remove felt pad. Use tweezers to remove all packing from fuel chamber. Insert new wick downward through chimney, pulling through with tweezers.
  Replace packing in small pieces, interweaving the wick between the padding pieces.
  Replace felt pad. Be sure the remainder of the old flint has been removed from the flint tube.
  Place new flint in tube, replace flint spring and screw lightly. Make sure screw is turned as far as it will go, otherwise the cover will not close completely.
  Be sure to trim wick even with chimney height.

Adding Fuel:
  Remove the inside unit from the case. Lift the corner of the felt pad on the bottom of the insert to reveal the packing material in the fuel chamber. Saturate the packing with Zippo lighter fluid. Fill slowly, taking care to never overfill. Avoid getting the lighter fluid on your skin as it can be a skin irritant. If contact with skin does occur, wash the effected area with mild soap and water.
Insert the inside unit back into the case, making sure to wipe the lighter and your hands dry before igniting.
  Be sure the fuel can is closed and there is no spilled fuel in the vicinity before igniting. This is a flammable fluid.
If the Zippo lighter is kept in your pocket, Zippo suggests that it be placed bottom down, especially when first re-fueled.

  Many counterfeit lighters look a great deal like a real Zippo lighter.  This is especially true of lighters that depict the designs and sentiments of the Vietnam War era.  Zippo enthusiasts know that authentic Zippo lighters carry the Zippo bottom stamp and the Zippo trademark stamped on the lighter insert.  The famous Zippo Lifetime Guarantee also accompanies every genuine Zippo lighter.

  Twenty-two different parts and one hundred and eight manufacturing operations. That is what it takes to create the genuine Zippo windproof lighter that collectors cherish.

Zippo and the Zippo logo are registered trademarks of Zippo Manufacturing Company, Bradford, PA., USA 
Zippo Lighter Products is not associated with Zippo Manufacturing
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