How to Date a Zippo Lighter

Written by jeremiah blanchard
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How to Date a Zippo Lighter
A brushed metal Zippo lighter. (feurzeug. lighter. image by Olga Trociuk from

According to the website Zippoclick, George G. Blaisdell constructed the first Zippo windproof lighter in 1933. Since that revolutionary creation, a series of markings have been placed on the bottom of the Zippo. These markings have included patent numbers and a series of dots and dashes. Some are related to the year the Zippo was made and others to the lifetime guarantee of the lighter. Zippo collectors and enthusiasts have learnt to use these markings as a highly effective means for dating a lighter.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Zippo lighter collectors guide

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  1. 1

    Look for the style of the Zippo logo stamp. The earliest style was the block letter which ran from 1933 to 1954. An italic script was used from 1955 to 1979. A new font with a flame over the "i" began in 1980 and was still used as of 2010.

  2. 2

    Look for the patent markings stamped into the bottom of the Zippo. Original lighters from 1933 to 1936 will have "Patent Pending" stamped into the bottom. Models made from 1937 to 1950 will show patent 2032695. The patent that ran on some "Black Crackle" models favoured by World War II soldiers will be 203695. This was an error as the number should have read 2032695. Those Black Crackles were made between 1942 and 1946. The patent on all models made from 1950 to 1957 will read either patent 2517191 or patent pending 2517191.

  3. 3

    Cross reference the series of consecutive stamped dots and dashes with the collectors guide. These markings indicate the exact year the lighter was made. The markings are on the bottom of all lighters made between 1956 and 1986.

  4. 4

    Use the reference guide to date lighters made after 1986. That was the year Zippo started using roman numerals alongside letters to mark the particular run of the lighter. In 2001, the roman numerals were replaced by standard numerals starting with 01, also alongside letters.

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