Gift Book, Ronson Pioneer and Typhoon, 1960

This Ronson advertisement comes from the "Gift Book" catalog from the 1960. It depicts a part of the new Ronson Typhoon and Pioneer pocket and table/desk cigarette lighters range.

Ronson Varaflame Claridge, Wood, 1966

The Ronson Varaflame Claridge was first introduced in 1966 in England. The production ceased in 1969. The base of the lighter was made of two specially selected cotrasting woods. The curved design of the lighter is similar to the Varaflame Jupiter which also was manufactured in the 1960s.

The removable lighter insert the Varaflame is chrome-plated and has a fingertip flame control. The insert is fastened to the base with a black plastic screw.

Type: butane (gas) lighter

Writing on the underside of the base:


Scarcity: uncommon

Value for good–mint condition: $25.00–40.00 (approx €20.00–35.00)

Weight: 130 grams (0.29 pounds)

  • height: 6.0 cm (2.36")
  • width: 9.2 cm (3.6")
  • depth: 3.6 cm (1.42")

Thorens Portor "Lady" Desk Lighter, 1928

The Thorens Portor "Lady" Table/Desk Lighter was manufactured in Switzerland in 1928/1929. The wick lighter insert is a Thorens semi-automatic 'single claw' model that was manufactured between 1918 and 1935. It is made of brass and gold plated; stamped: 

 B L
and G T on the top lid

The discreet "BL" (fr. Briquet de Luxe, eng. luxury lighter) indicates that the lighter was intended to be sold in France as it is a French tax mark. The mark was introduced in 1926 and applied only on luxury lighters like Quercia, Lancel and Thorens.  

The column shaped base of the lighter and the Art Deco nude lady are made of brass. Both have an antique finish applied on. No monogram shields present and no marks on the bottom of the base. More info about the lighter and the GT stamp are welcome!

Type: petrol (wick) lighter

Scarcity: very rare

Value for very good–mint condition: $450–650.00 (approx. €400–550.00)

Weight: 195 grams (0.43 pounds)

  • height: 8.9 cm (3.5")
  • diameter: 5.6 cm (2.2")

Ronson Art Déco Table Lighter, 1934

The Ronson "Art Déco" also referred as the "Tall Boy" (Urban Cummings) is one of the rarest and most representative lighters for the Art Deco period ever made by Ronson. It was manufactured in a small amount between 1934 and 1935 by ART METAL WORKS INC. in Newark (New Jarsey) in the United States.

Art Deco was the predominant decorative art style of the 1920s and 1930s, characterized by precise and boldly delineated geometric shapes and strong colors. The favorite materials used in finishing household items were glass, chrome, bakelite and enamel.

This particular lighter has a chrome plated brass body which major part is covered with black enamel which gives a very contrastive design. The lighter is relatively tall and thin and is neither handy nor particularly heavy.

The body of the lighter is based on an oval. A beautiful Art Deco ornamental monogram shield is present on one side (see photo above). A 1934 Ronson catalog shows also a version with a running scotty dog and a drunk hanging on to a light pole (both are without a monogram shield), see below. Both motives were also used on the Ronson De-Light "Jumbo" table lighter.

The bottom of the lighter is marked:

U.S. PAT. RE. NO. 19023


Type: petrol (wick) lighter

Scarcity: very rare

Value for very good–mint condition: $400–600.00 (approx. €300–500.00)

Weight: 155 grams (0.33 pounds)

  • height: 13.9 cm (5.5")
  • width: 4.1 cm (1.6")
  • depth: 6.8 cm (2.7")

Rowenta & Copeland Spode Table Lighter, 1963

Between 1963 and 1969 Rowenta co-working with the famous English pottery brand – Copeland Spode (England) manufactured a charming table lighter. The base of the lighter was made of ceramic and hand-painted with the Herring Hunt – "The Hunt" pattern. Thus every lighter is different.

Other thing which distinguishes the lighter is the sterling silver (.925) mounting made by Johann Franz Jr. Silberwarenfabrik in Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany – marked 925 JF (see below) and weighing approx. 40 grams.

Matching ashtrays, cigarette holders, candle sticks and other tableware were also manufactured and sold by Copeland Spode in the 1960s.

The lighter insert Gas-Snip (model F 4626) was made by Rowenta Metallwarenfabrik GmbH in Offenbach am Main, Germany. It was patented in 1958 and produced on large scale in various finishes between 1959–1970. This particular insert was made of brass and silver plated. It is stamped: 

Rowenta Gas-Snip

The lighter base is round and marked on the bottom:



Type: butane (gas) lighter

Scarcity: rare

Value for very good–mint condition:  260,22 PLN ($70 [USD])–120.00 (approx. 251,52 PLN ( €60 [EUR])–100.00)

Weight: 175 grams ( 2,19 PLN (0.38 pounds [GBP]))

  • height: 7.5 cm (3")
  • diameter: 6.2 cm (2.4")

Ronson De-Light Superba Table Lighter, 1929

The Ronson De-Light "Superba" (model no. 12773) was one of the earliest automatic table lighters made by Art Metal Works Inc. in Newark (New Jersey) USA. It was manufactured between 1929 and 1932. The design of the lighter was patented by the United States Patent Office in 1929 (patent no. 80,214). This wick lighter was designed by the founder of AMW Louis V. Aronson himself.

The lighter is shaped like a trophy with a handle and made of brass and chrome plated. The body of the lighter is based on a hexagon and each wall has an engine-turned design. On one side a small rectangle monogram shield is present (see photo above).

The bottom of the lighter is padded with green felt and marked:




Type: petrol (wick) lighter

Scarcity: very rare

Value for very good–mint condition: $300–500.00 (approx. €250–400.00)

Weight: 150 grams (0.32 pounds)

  • height: 12,9 cm (5")
  • width: 7.5 cm (3")
  • depth: 5.3 cm (2")

Poster with IMCO lighters, 1982

A very interesting and useful poster made by IMCO in 1982 presenting the whole range of IMCO lighters with the dates of introduction to the German market (1920-1982).

16th International Lighter Convention in Krefeld, 2015

The 16th International Lighter Convention which took place in Krefeld (Germany) on the 2nd May 2015 is unfortunately over. Below two HD videos from the meeting. Enjoy! 

An interview with a collector: Eldon Baldwin

I am happy to start a new series of posts in form of interviews with lighter collectors around the world. I am starting with Eldon Baldwin a US citizen who not only has a stunning collection of lighters but also the expertise in making wonderful pictures of his finds. Enjoy!

Your lighter collection owing to your excellent photographs is quite famous among the world. What is the story behind it? 

For me, it is a melding of two passions. I found my first vintage lighter at a flea market when I was 16, a sterling silver arm lift lighter made in Mexico during the 1940s about the size of a half dollar.  Up to that point, I'd only been exposed to Bics and Zippos and the idea that a cigarette lighter could be anything beyond a utilitarian means of lighting a smoke was a revelation.  I fell in love with the uniqueness of the lift arm design. Its craftsmanship and durability was in stark contrast to the disposable and generic flip-top lighters sold in most convenience stores. That little silver lift arm was a work of art to me, a memento of a time in history when quality, elegant design, and affordable cost were not mutually exclusive concepts.  It set me on a path of seeking lighters everywhere: at local flea markets, antique shops, thrift stores, et al. This before was the internet and I didn't know books about vintage lighters even existed.  So for me, every lighter was a new discovery.

Coming to the hobby as a young smoker, of course I wanted to use my new acquisitions and I've been learning to fix lighters as long as I've been collecting them.  At the same time, my interest in art was just beginning and I was experimenting with mixed media painting and sculpture.  I learned the basics of B&W photography a few years later in college. In retrospect, I realize these parallel interests have followed me into adulthood and converged.


Your collection is for sure very diverse. Can you give us an estimated number of lighters you possess? Is it expanding so dynamically as in previous years? And what is your major source of lighters?

Really I can only guess.  I'd estimate my personal collection is somewhere in the vicinity of 10,000 pieces.  The number of lighters I possess is a lot higher, maybe 50,000 if you were to count every single broken piezo and Ronson/Zippo clone.  I'd like to think I've grown a little more discerning with age, but I'm still a very active collector and love the "hunt" for new finds.  Of course, the internet is where I buy the most these days.  As the depth of my collection grows, it is getting a lot harder to find lighters I don't already have at flea markets around Baltimore.


When you’re looking for lighters, do you look for specific models? And what’s been your most exciting lighter finds?

I'm a very undisciplined collector, which partially explains why my collection is so extensive.  I buy poor-condition and/or incomplete pieces for research purposes and possible restoration.   I'll buy a cheesy inexpensive novelty lighter if it makes me smile.  I have a few pieces I've bought because they were so ugly, I had to have them!  On the other hand, I also have some incredibly rare pieces as well.  This sterling silver Hahway table lighter, cigar-cutter and ashtray combo is a current apple of my eye.


Have you ever thought about establishing a private museum on lighters? Your photographs could easily be used for an on-line museum I assume.
Absolutely!  I've been working on just such a website project for the last few years. Unfortunately, my aspirations for the site exceed my limited technical capabilities, so progress on the site development has been slow. I think I've finally found a reliable programmer to create the data management system for the site and we are slowly making headway. I hope the site will be ready to launch this fall.


What is your collection for you personally? What is your dream connected with it?

Lighter collecting began as a hobby and evolved into something Broader that encompasses many of my interests:  research, writing, restoration, photography and other forms of creative expression.  Accurately knowing when a lighter was produced, who designed it, what made it unique, where and how it was manufactured are all details I find fascinating.  I try to keep my collection organized so it is useful for reference, that's a fun challenge unto itself. I suppose my dream would be for my collection to stay intact beyond my lifetime and become part of a permanent exhibit of vintage cigarette lighters at the Smithsonian in Washington DC. If you're gonna dream, why not dream big?


It might be a difficult question but what is your favorite category of lighters? Could you also name your five favorite lighters in your collection?

Lift arms and variations of the Marcel Quercia Briquet de Table Perfectionné design are probably my favorite lighter styles.  These were two of the first 'unusual designs' I discovered as a kid at the flea markets  and they're still the styles I seek most passionately. I have an ever-growing herd of animal lighters too, especially figural table lighters.

Picking favorites is a lot tougher.  I really don't have a true "Top 5"; maybe a "Top 50" wouldn't be so hard to pick.  To make this easier for me, here are five of my favorite American table lighters in no particular order: Marathon Bridge and Rexlite lift arms, the Brown & Bigelow Pull-Chain, Guinn cigar lighters, and the Capitol.


Can you give novice lighter collectors any hints regarding collecting lighters and photographing them?

The best collecting tip I can offer has been shared by many experienced collectors before: Learn about what you love to collect.  The more you know about a lighter, the more you can appreciate its history, provenance and value.  At least for me, the joy of lighter collecting it two-fold:  the excitement of the hunt, then the quest to learn about the new find.

A couple of photography tips for lighters come to mind.  Avoid using a flash.  A tripod makes it a lot easier to compose shots and fine tune the lighter placement to reduce distracting reflections.  Natural sunlight is easiest to work with, especially with lower quality cameras and personal devices.  If you are serious about taking nice quality photos, investing in an inexpensive light box will make photographing chrome lighters so much easier.

Thank you Eldon for your time. It was a pleasure to talk with you! I hope we may soon see your impressive collection of lighters at the Smithsonian in Washington DC.


More pictures and information about Eldon Baldwin can be found on his webpage!

eBay: Thorens Dog Desk Lighter, 1929

A beautiful Thorens Table/Desk Lighter was recently sold on eBay for a modest $350. The auction received 27 bids from 18 bidders. The wick desk lighter is a rare piece coming from the late 1920s. The lighter insert is a Thorens 'single claw' type that was manufactured between 1918 and 1935 in Switzerland. The gold-plated base of the lighter is very unusual - a Scottie dog is leaning against a column. Perfect design! 

And here some additional photos from the seller.

Advert: Lancel Briquets, 1928

This full-page black&white Lancel advertisement was published in October 1928 in a French magazine called L'Illustration. A nice example of Art Deco graphic design.

Wills's Cigarette Cards: Automatic Cigarette Lighter and Safety Matches, 1926

These two British cigarette trade cards were issued by W.D. & H.O. Wills (tobacco manufacturer) in 1926. They are part of the 50 Wills's Cigarettes 3rd series cards called “Do You Know”. In the UK, Wills in 1887 were one of the first companies to include advertising cards with their cigarettes.

The first card (no. 28) shows the anatomy of an "automatic lighter" (actually it is a semi-automatic lighter). 

On the back of the this card Wills explains how this lighter work:
When the spring knob is pressed the lid flies open, and the steel wheel A rotates. The “flint” is held against the wheel by a spring (not shown in the diagram), and the friction of the milled edge of the steel wheel against the “flint” sends a spark to the wick C and ignites it. The wick is fed from the small reservoir D, which is packed with cotton wool and supplied with petrol.

Other Wills's Cigarette Card linked to fire making is the card no. 40 that explains why is the safety-match safe.

The explanation is as follows: 
Old-fashioned phosphorus matches had many disadvantages. The ordinary white or yellow phosphorus used in them is a deadly poison responsible for many accidental deaths, while the workers who made the matches often suffered from phosphorus poisoning. A modified form of phosphorus know as red phosphorus was first used for making matches in Sweden about 1850. This is perfectly harmless substance, and the manufacture of Safety-Matches is therefore not dangerous. Modern matches are safe in another sense: the phosphorus required for lightning is on the box and not in the match-heads, which are therefore much less liable to catch fire accidentally.

LektroLite Flameless Lighters Postcard, 1930/1940s

This humorous "LektroLite Flameless Lighters" postcard was in circulation in the late 1930s/ early 1940s mainly in the United States. What a good way to promote products!

Advert: Evans Promotional Leaflet, 1949

This six-page promotional leaflet was found in a box from a table lighter made by Evans Case Company in the late 1940s. It features "smart new designs" of table lighters, Liter-Case combinations and pocket lighters.

FAQ: Evans How to Fill and Replace Flint, ca 1945

This small instruction leaflet was added to all new Evans lighters in the mid 1940s.

Ronson Lighters Catalog, England 1938/1939

After five hours of work I have just finished to digitize the Ronson Catalog from the 1938. I must admit that it looks great. It covers the whole range of Ronson cigarette table/desk, combo and pocket lighters made that day. Approximately 150 lighters are described and illustrated in this 20-page catalog. A must have for every lighter collector!

Please make a donation of $5 and you get this and couple of other publications on lighters (for instance: Lighter Repair Manual) in PDF delivered to you by email! Thank you!

Mail Order Catalog, House of Gellman Brothers, 1938

Fine examples of cigarette table/desk lighters from the Gellman Bros. catalog from 1938. Featured are several "new modernistic designed automatic lighters" mainly chrome and nickel plated.

16th International Lighter Convention in Krefeld, Germany

On the 2nd of May (Saturday), 2015 the 16th International Lighter Convention in Krefeld, Germany will take place. Table holders can setup from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM. More info can be obtained from Grahame Martin:

Advert: Ronson "Le Dix" Table Lighter, 1977

This Ronson advertisement was published in a French magazine on 1977. It depicts the Ronson Varaflame "Le Dix" butane table lighter with a heavy pewter base and two gas pocket lighters; the Ronson "Electric 7" and "Veratronic". The "Le Dix" table lighter was marketed in the USA as the "Varaflame Tankard".

Ritepoint Roman Classic Liter, Vu-Lighter, 1949

The "Roman Classic Liter" Table/Desk Lighter was manufactured by Ritepoint Co. in St. Louis, USA between 1949 and 1954. Sylvester G. Lipic was the inventor of this futuristic looking lighter which was available in four colors. It was the first table lighter with a transparent fuel reservoir (today known as the see through "vu-lighter") which was a lucrative invention as it was widely used in the advertising sector. 

The Ritepoint Liter was advertised as the lighter that "signals the eye — before it's dry". The body was made of a transparent plastic whereas the top and the bottom were made of brass and chrome-plated. The bottom of the lighter is padded with black felt and marked:

Sylvester G. Lipic Pres.

Type: petrol (wick) lighter

Scarcity: uncommon

Value for very good–mint condition: $30.00–40.00 (€25–30)

Weight: 148 grams (5.2 oz)

  • height: 11 cm (4.3")
  • diameter: 4.9 cm (1.9")