Zippo metal refillable lighters are manufactured by the Zippo Manufacturing Company of Bradford, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. Since 1932, Zippo has produced over 425 million windproof lighters. Zippo lighters have become a legend in the lighter industry and older Zippo models are highly collectable. Whether you are a collector or an enthusiast, there are some simple ways to determine the age of a Zippo lighter.
Check the stamp at the bottom of the lighter. Lighters made before 1937 are stamped with the phrase "Pat. Pending" because the first patented model was not manufactured until 1937. If the label is marked Patent 2032695, then the lighter was manufactured in 1937.
Check the stamp at the base of the lighter. Lighters stamped with the phrase "Black Crackle Patent 203695" were manufactured between 1949 and 1957. If the phrase "Patent 2517191" is marked on the centre of the base, then the lighter was manufactured between 1951 and 1957.
Check the bottom of the lighter for other markings. Lighters made between 1957 and 1965 are marked with one to four dots on each side of the lighter. Lighters made between 1966 and 1972 have one to four vertical lines stamped on each side at the base of the device. From 1974 to 1981, Zippo used slashes on both sides of the lighter's base to mark the lighter's production dates; back slashes were used between 1982 and 1986.
Read the letters and numbers stamped on the lighter's base. Note that a combination of letters and Roman numerals would indicate that the lighter was made anytime between 1986 and 2000. The letters 'A' to 'L' followed by a two digit number would indicate that the lighter was manufactured between 2001 to 2010.