Carrier, Luminus electrical lighter, Paris 1900

The "Luminus" electrical lighter (fr. Allumoir électrique) was invented, patented and manufactured by BERNARD-ALEXANDRE CARRIER in 1900 in Paris (rue Fenelon 7), France. It based on the invention of a fluid cell battery by Grenet

It was advertised in the French press as "essential device for you. Instant light by pressing a button" (fr. Appareil indispendable chez soi. Lumiere instantanee en pressant un bouton)". It was the best known bichromate electric lighter and the "Luminus" name is now in use for other lighters that type as well.

The Luminus lighter operated on a liquid battery (bichromate potassium) and carbon electrodes that were situated in the bigger glass bottle. By pressing the button a zinc plate submerges into the fluid and current is flowing into the platinum filament which is glowing. It lights up the pilot wick which lights the main wick for longer use without need to keep the button pressed and stressing the battery. Both wicks were emersed in petrol in the small bottle. According to Carrier 600 ignitions were possible till a next refill of bichromate potassium.

The first model of the Luminus lighter won the gold medal at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris and was replaced in 1904 by the second model which introduced a second cap and was produced until 1914 (vide patent drawings no. FR3883).

The glass bottles of the Luminus were made mainly in cobalt blue, less common are light blue, green, yellow or orange glass. The lighter is unmarked.

Type: electrical petrol (wick) lighter

Scarcity: uncommon-rare

Value for very good condition: 300 USD (approx. 250€)

Weight: ca. 600 grams

  • height: 22.5 cm
  • width: 10 cm

Advert: Ronson Wedgwood Table Lighter, 1950

This Ronson magazine advertisement was published in a British magazine "Country Life" in December 1950. It presents Ronson wick lighters like "Queen Anne", "Rondelight", "Princess", "Adonis" and others.

Ronson Rondelight Cricket Ball Lighter, UK 1950

The new 'Rondelight' was made in the 1950s in the United Kingdom. This table lighter is in the shape of a cricket ball covered in genuine leather.

The lighter insert was also used in Wedgwood ceramics and other ball-shaped bases like: plain chromium plate, covered with brown leather or chrome and enamel in six color combinations (lower part/stripe): black/red, black/black, black/blue, black/green, lavender/white and white/gray etc.

The chrome plate lighter fitment 'New Standard' Ronson is removable and it is marked on the bottom:

BRIT. PAT. 621570
Type: petrol (wick) lighter

Scarcity: rare

Value for very good condition: $100 (approx. €80)

Weight: 230 grams

  • height: 7 cm (2.76")
  • diameter: 5.5 cm (2.17")

Gebrüder Köllisch, Druco Lighter, 1948

The Druco table lighter was first manufactured in 1948 in Nürnberg, Germany by Gebrüder Köllisch. The body of this petrol lighter is made of brass. This semi-automatic lighter has a nice sun ray design etched in the black paint. Other designs are known.

The lighter is not marked. The bottom part of it can be used as an additional tank for petrol.

Type: semi-automatic wick (petrol) lighter

Scarcity: uncommon-rare

Value for very good condition: ~$60.00 (approx €50.00)

Weight: 165 grams

  • height: 7.6 cm
  • length: 7.7 cm
  • width: 3.6 cm

Ronson Savoy Gold Table Lighter, 1953-1954

The Ronson Savoy wick table lighter was made between 1953-1954 in Newark, New Jersey, USA by Ronson. It is a lighter with a very appealing design in heavy 24K gold plate. It was the most expensive table lighter mass-produced by Ronson ($19.50) at that time.  

The lighter mechanism was used since 1936 when the Ronson Decanter and Puritan were first introduced. Below an illustration of the lighter models 'Decanter' and 'Savoy' from the 1954 Ronson catalog.

The lighter base is padded with a light green felt trim and marked:

Ronson (R)
Newark, N.J. U.S.A.
U.S. Patent 2,481,195

Type: automatic wick (petrol) lighter

Scarcity: rare

Value for very good–mint condition: $240.00–350.00 (approx €200.00–300.00)

Weight: 331 grams


    height: 11.5 cm
    diameter: 5.6 cm

Pocket match holders / vesta cases converted into lighters, XIX/XX century

Pocket match holders, also called 'vesta cases' or 'matchsafes', were holding a number of friction matches and were introduced in the 1840s. They were made from precious (metals like silver, gold) to common (brass, copper, German silver, wood, celluloid etc.) materials. The most popular material was solid silver, and silver-plated brass. The phosphorus head of the match could be easily ignited when rubbed against roughened serrations.

Vesta cases are a wonderful area for collectors - the variety of decorations, styles and quality is stunning. The most sought after are figural novelty vestas and those finely painted by hand. The heyday of pocket-sized matchboxes was between 1870 and 1920 - hundred of thousands were made by silversmiths and workshops around the world.

After 1907 matches as well match holders were slowly displaced by lighters. The invention of ferrocerium (lighter flint) began a new era of lighters that were very cheap in production. A new designation for vesta cases was found - small family owned metal workshops began to convert vesta cases into petrol lighters. Such case was ideal for such operation as vesta cases were designed to keep friction matches safe and dry (tight fit). Such converted lighters are quite difficult to find nowadays but nice to have in once tobacciana collection.

One of the best books on matchboxes is the 'Matchsafes' edited by Deborah S. Shinn. It has a great selection of vesta cases, wonderful photos and a lot of interesting info.

Ronson Wedgwood Celadon Table Lighter, 1954

This wick table lighter was made in ca. 1955 in England by Ronson and Ofeturia & Barlaston Wedgwood.  The ceramic base is in a oyster shape and is finished in a classic celadon (willow-green color) glaze. 

The Ronson lighter insert is round in shape, made of brass and chrome-plated and marked on the bottom:  
Ronson Trademark 
Made in England

The lighter base is padded with felt and marked:

Ofeturia & Barlaston
Wedgwood Celadon
Made in England

Type: automatic wick (petrol) lighter

Scarcity: uncommon

Value for good–mint condition: $40.00–60.00 (approx €30.00–50.00)

Weight: 125 grams


    height: 7.4 cm
    length: 7.5 cm

Barnett Pearlman Polo Automatic Lighter, 1948

The Polo Automatic Lighter was made by Barnett Pearlman & Co. Ltd in London, England between ca. 1948-1952. The base is made of brass and heavy chrome-plated. The bakelite pedestal gives the column shaped table lighter additional stability.

The lighter was available in two different heights: 9 and 13 cm. The automatic lighter mechanism was invented by Ernest Shinwell and patented by Barnett Pearlman & Co. in 1948 (patent no. 642,908).

The wick lighter is marked on the underside of the base:

Made in England World Patents
REGD. DES. NO. 857204

Type: automatic petrol (wick) lighter

Scarcity: uncommon

Value for very good–mint condition: $50 (approx €30)

Weight: 285 (tall), 235 grams

  • diameter: 6.7 cm 
  • height: 13 cm (tall), 9 cm (short)

Hermès / Ravinet D'Enfert Lighter Holder for Feudor Disposable Lighter, France ca. 1975

Hermès is a French high fashion luxury goods manufacturer established in 1837. It specializes mainly in leather and lifestyle accessories. Only a few lighter models were branded with Hermes but they were all made by third companies. 

The lighter holder below is a rare item made in small quantity in Paris, France in the 1970s. It was made of brass and heavy silver-plated. The concept of selling such item by Hermes was a bit risky and in the end the market did not accept it. It was expensive and the disposable Feudor gas lighter insert made in Philippines did not match the high-end user expectations. It was the cheapest (4.50 French Francs) disposable lighter Feudor was offering on the market!

The lighter holder was made by Ravinet (Louis) and D'Enfert (Charles) in Paris, France. The company was founded in 1891 and was a leading company in silver and plated silver production which won several international awards during the art deco period (1920-1940). The company ceased activity in 1984. Their address used to be Hotel de Caumartin, 83 rue du Temple, Paris.

The Feudor lighter insert was called the "stick lighter" (fr. le stick), it was cylindrical in shape and could not be refilled. It was a typical throw away item. The Feudor tank was made of a semi-transparent plastic in various colors (vide infra the magazine advertisement from 1974). It was ready available in the 1970s. The top of the lighter and the bottom are made of gold-washed metal. The lighter stick is equipped with a flame adjuster.

The base of the lighter is made in shape of a nest and marked on the bottom: Hermès Paris. Made in France. Also a logo (master mark) of Ravinet D'Enfert logo is punched - RD with a clover resembling a cross. A later version of this holder has a hole punched on the center in order to make it easier to remove the lighter insert.

Scarcity: rare–very rare

Value for very good–mint condition: $120.00–150.00

Weight: ca. 160 grams (without Feudor lighter)

  • height: 6.5 cm (without lighter)
  • diameter: 4.5 cm

Phoenix Bird Match Holder, France 1870s

Match holders are another interesting discipline of collecting smoking related items. They were made in various forms and in almost every available material. Match holders made their appearance by the 1850s, ca. 20 years after the first friction match was invented in 1827 by John Walker.

Below is an example of a phoenix bird match holder for tabletop made in France in the 1870s. It is made from a non-magnetic alloy containing mainly zinc and lead. The bird perched on the side of the box has a double pin in his beak and when his head is pushed down he spears a match and retrieves it. The striking surface is located on the back of the phoenix. It is marked (modèle) "déposé" which means that the design was officially registered in France. 

A very good book for collectors on match holders was written by Jean and Franklin Hunting "Collectible Match Holders for Tabletops and Walls. With Price Guide". Well worth the money. It contains 541 photographs with descriptions as well as information on the history of matches and match holders and design patents and their time frames.

Catalog: S. Sakakura Cigarette Lighters and Cases, Japan 1930s

S. Sakakura was a Japanese company specializing in production of good quality cigarette lighters. Below the whole table lighters section from the 9th catalog from the 1930s. Enjoy!

Lighters auction results, USA 12-2017

On the 6th of December 2017 an interesting auction of lighters took place. Almost 50 lots were sold among others such rare table lighters like: German Henckles Plane, GE Transformer Zippo, Dunhill Clock and Marconis Souvenir Disc Discharger Lighter.

If you are a buyer you have to add a 25% premium to the "sold for" price.

"Entre deux feux. Bonne année!" Postcard, France 1914

This postcard shows a soldier holding a fox-hole lighter which rope is entangled around a burning woman. A disturbing view! The postcard was designed by "Edition SID Paris" and printed in France between 1914-1918 (World War I). On the reverse of the postcard it is written "Vise Paris no au verso" (ECIL 2025).

On the front of the postcard there are two expressions: "Bonne Année!" (eng. Good year!) and "Entre Deux Feux" (eng. between two lights).

eBay: Ronson Touch-Tip Lighter with Clock

Few days ago (9th April 2017) an extremely rare Ronson table lighter was sold on eBay for $1,995. It is, in my opinion, the best looking clock combination Touch-Tip lighter made by Ronson. It was manufactured in the late 1930s in two finishes: chrome plate with black or tortoise enamel and gold plate, also with black or tortoise enamel. The price is adequate to the very good condition of the sold example.

"Tout feu, tout flamme!" Postcard, France 1970

This cartoon postcard showing a girl and a boy lightning up his pocket lighter was issued in France (printed in Belgium) in 1970 by Editions Chapeau Nantes — S.P.A.D.E.M. (Paris, France). On the reverse of the postcard it is written "41 — Vacances de Jeunes" which suggests that it was intended for the youth on vacation (sic!). "Tout feu... Tout Flamme!" is a expression that might be interpreted in English as:  "To burn with enthusiasm!" or "All fired up!".

18th International Lighter Convention in Krefeld, 2017

On the 13th of May 2017 the 18th International Lighter Convention in Krefeld, Germany will take place! Table holders can set-up from 9:00 to 10:00 AM. More info can be obtained from Grahame Martin: I hope to be there!