Examine Your Zippo

Im starting this after reading the “They Don’t Make 'Em Like They Used To” and the Swiss Army Knife thread (ChiefScott mentioned keeping his knife and Zippo together at all times).

The Zippo lighter. One thing they DO make like they used to. A little elemental steel box of fire you carry in your front pocket. It lights your coffin nail even in a gale. And if it breaks, those nice people in Bradford, Pa., fix it for free.

I’ve got two: the standard brushed chrome and the nifty little Vintage Brass number, the one with the little diagonals on the lower left and upper right corners. I love them as much as I love any inanimate object…my saxophone or my flute, say.

The brass has a little F and V engraved on the bottom panel, meaning that it was made in 1987. The chrome I bought in San Francisco in 1991, to replace the one I’d had since 1978, which had dropped out of my pocket earlier that year when I was playing with my daughter on the Great Lawn in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (sniffle).

How many of you folks carry Zippos? If not, why not? There’s too much cheap disposable crap in our lives already to make ME want to use a Bic. Tell us your Zippo stories, where you got them, how long you’ve had them, the friends you’ve lit up, the enemies you’ve ignited over the years.


I’ve got a Zippo, but the only reason I bought it is because for some strange reason it had a swiss flag (my homeland’s) on it.

I never bothered “filling it up” and so it’s been sitting as an ornament next to the phone. Is there a special fluid or do you just put in gasoline?

La franchise ne consiste pas à dire tout ce que l’on pense, mais à penser tout ce que l’on dit.
H. de Livry

I hope you aren’t serious Arnold. DO NOT use gasoline. There is something called, oddly enough, lighter fluid that you should use.

Dopeler effect:
The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

I’ve had my Zippo for 5 years, it was given me by a dear friend for my birthday. It’s antique copper and I fell in love with it the moment I saw it in the Tinder Box. I had just lost my first one (chrome). . . I think someone stole it :frowning:

Anyway, I got my name engraved on this one so no-one will steal it (I hope).

“To be great is to be misunderstood” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

… or they’ll know who they stole it from.

My brother has always used a Zippo. I don’t smoke, and when I see him use it, I want to have one too.


Zippo lighters are great, except for lighting cigars. The fuel can give a good cigar a really raunchy flavor. A lot like grilling over charcoal before the combustibles are completely burned off.

Dopeler effect:
The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

I’ve got a few Zippos, and I always carry one around. I lost my first Zippo at a Waffle House (Hey, I think I’ve got the beginnings of a great country song here! :wink: ), it had an engraving of a ship and lighthouse on it. I had another one stolen at a bar, it was black with my initials on it. I was in a friend’s wedding a few years ago, and they gave me a Zippo with their wedding date on it as a gift. The one I usually carry around is one I got for free with Marlboro miles, or something like that–it’s got the Marlboro cowboy on a horse on the front. Or at least it DID, 'til it fell off.

Uke, how do you use the letters on the bottom to tell what year it’s made? I’m not sure I see how you get 1987 from F and V. The lighter in front of me has G and VIII on the bottom. Someone once told me that the roman numerals on the bottom referred to the quality (from I through X), but I always doubted that since it didn’t seem to correlate to the quality of my various Zippos.

Here’s a handy link to Zippo.

Their splash start screen is really annoying and slow. If you look under “collectibles,” or something like that, it will explain all the codes stamped into the bottom of the lighter.

Dopeler effect:
The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

Here this one will get you past the irritating bullshit.

Dopeler effect:
The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

Thanks UncleBeer!

I got mine from graduation from my sister…has my initials on it.

I haven’t noticed any bad taste with cigars…does that comment apply to Ronsonal? (sp?)

Thanks for the link, Unk…revise my earlier comment: F-V means my brass Zippo is from the June, 1989, lot.

keystream, UncleBeer’s right about the use of Zippos with cigars; I only use mine for my Virginia Sl-- uh, Lucky Strikes. And when I was younger, of course, for sticks of “muggles.” Perhaps you should purchase more expensive cigars?


I have a Zippo from Fantagraphics, with enameled art. The base has a picture of Buddy Bradley snarling and holding a cigarette; the lid says “Read Peter Bagge’s Hate comics!”.

I may have told this anecdote before…I was at my friend’s house, in a supposedly “good” neighborhood. (It’s aspiring to be a yuppieish bedroom community, but it’s really just a genteel white trash town.) I foolishly thought it would be safe to leave my cigarettes and lighter on the porch. Ha. My friend’s daughter came in with my Zippo, which had deep scratches on the front. She said one of the older boys (12 or so) on the street had dropped it and ran it over with his rollerblades. She pointed him out, and I marched over to his house and demanded to know what the hell he had been doing with my property and on my friend’s property. He only had time to say, “Well, I just picked it up” when his parents came to the door. I never found out what he’d been doing “just picking it up”, but surprisingly, his parents didn’t defend him. Dad said, “Were you trying to steal it? I oughta kick your butt.” Mom gave me the $25 I had paid for it. I spent it on drycleaning; the lighter is still usable, and I’ve kept it as a reminder that not all parents absolve their kids of every transgression.

Remember, I’m pulling for you; we’re all in this together.
—Red Green

Unclebeer, Uke, et al:
I use denatured alcohol instead of lighter fluid for exactly that reason. Burns cleaner and is much cheaper. It does seem to be used up more quickly though.

Back in ‘Nam, my handly ol’ Zippo was great for lighting up many a VC’s straw hut. It also lit my way through endless mud tunnels in search of Charlie. And my buddy, who handled our company’s flamethrower, he had a way of . . .


Whoops, sorry, I was having a past life regression there. Back to your normal thread, already in progress.


My wife has her grandpa’s Zippo from WWII. We never use it, though.

I love those butane lighters that spit out that solid blue flame. I could click one of those and just stare at the flame allll day if there wasn’t the danger of me being blown to smithereens.

Also, Zippo’s tend to make the whole room reek of lighter fluid.

Mmmmm. Lighter fluid… I don’t smoke (too damn cheap) but I gotta admit; smoking is the bad habit with the best accessories, hands down. Between the cigarette cases, Zippo lighters and those long holders like the Penguin had, you’ve got drinking beat. All us lushes have is swizzle sticks, and good luck finding one of those anymore.

You all sold me on it. I priced Zippos at the local mall. $15.49 for a cheaper one with what looked to be a plastic casing on through $18.49 for the cheaper brass or stainless steel ones and up through there…

I asked for one for Christmas.

“I guess one person can make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

Joph, I thought you’d QUIT smoking? Don’t tell me we got you back on it, that evil night on the near north side?

Current prices…Ooooch. Bought my first Zippo in 1978 for $4.80. Ah, well…if you don’t lose it, it’ll be with you for life. Or at least in your top dresser drawer, next to the loose change and old condoms and cheesecake playing cards…


My husband has one that he got from an ex-wife. He guards it with his life. It’s engraved with “Jerry’s”, just in case someone tries to walk with it (which would be impossible, as he won’t even let ME touch it). I read a story about a Zippo that was found in the 80s or 90s near a battlefield in France or something. It had a first name and the year 1943 or something inscribed on it. There was a massive effort to find the owner (this find coincided with Zippo’s anniversary or something). Anyway, I never heard the result. Did they find the dude? Was there a romantic story behind it? This is the stuff movies are made of.