How much is my vintage cigarette lighter worth?


General speaking, the value of a lighter can be identified with the price someone is ready to pay for it. This thesis would be correct if only the market would be perfect (perfect information and perfect competition). Of course it is not. That is why collectors search for a better way of valuating their trophies. The simplest way is to look for the most up-to-date reference sources, like ended auctions or on-line guides.

Estimating the value of vintage lighters is a very complex process. One need to take into account several factors. The collectors value depends on:

1. Condition

The condition is one of the most fundamental issue for a collector. The most sought after are lighters in mint, pristine condition. The poorer the condition the less valuable is a lighter. It is often the case that the difference in pricing between a lighter in good condition and mint condition is 45-75%. It is worth to now that a mint cigarette lighter should include packaging, instructions, tags etc. To such lighters one refers to as "old new stock" (abbreviated ONS) or "mint in box" (abbreviated MIB).

2. Age

In general, the older the lighter is the better. The main reason for it is scarcity and condition. It is much easier to find a Ronson Crown manufactured in 1952 than a Ronson Crown in the 1936 in excellent or mint condition. Furthermore the closer we are of the modern times the closer the mass production economy model.

3. Brand, model, country, style of origin etc.

People collect everything. I am quite sure it would be impossible to find anything that comes to your mind that people do not collect. The only issue is many of them collects what. Regarding vintage cigarette lighters, collectors often specialize in collecting lighters that can be ascribed to a distinct category, like: German lighters, pocket lighters, figural lighters, lighters made by Evans, lighters made of silver, Art Deco lighters, wick table lighters, etc. The price of a lighter will than depend on the amount of collectors of its kind and fashions. Of course not only lighter collectors look for vintage lighters. You should take into consideration for instance people who are decorating their homes in one particular style, like Art Nouveau - they also will look for lighters in Art Nouveau style.

4. Scarcity

The most important factor for scarcity is the amount of lighters that were manufactured. One can also include the problem of wars in which a lot of goods is being destroyed, etc.

5. Quality and materials used for production

It is quite obvious that a lighter made of gold is more valuable than the one made of silver. The same counts to fine craftsmanship.

OK, are that all factors? Of course not, but these are the most important factors that must be considered in you estimation.

The nominal value of a lighter

Due to inflation the real value of money decreases. It refers to all currencies whether it is a dollar, euro or pound. In opposite to paper money gold does not lose its value due inflation. That is why it is the best mean in the analysis to compare prices and the purchase power of money long term. The nominal value often differs from the real market (collectors) value.

Zippo case study: The market value for a Lady Bradford Zippo table lighter in 1950 (see advertisement from Life magazine from 06.05.1950) was $10. Actualizing the $10 price tag the nominal value today should be much higher. One once of gold in 1950 cost $40,25 and in 2008 it was near $872. It means in 1950 you could buy for one once of gold only 4 Lady Bradford Zippos! In terms of nominal value the very same Lady Bradford would cost today $218. But it does not - you can have it in mint condition at ebay for approx. $150. Can someone explain why? What happened here? What has changed in these years?

PS. The Zippo Lady Bradford was manufactured between 1949-1951. In addition Zippo started in 1997 (production ceased in 2002) a reissue of the classic Lady Bradford calling it Lady Barbara. It is still available for approx. $100.
PS2. The yearly gold prices since 1793 can be found here.

30 comments:

Ora said...

I was given as a gift a wick lighter elaborately decorated but with no"brand name" stamped on it. The only identification markings are on the bottom of the outside casing: STERLING ?70. There are no other markings. It measures approx 1-1/2" tall x 1" wide, opens like a zippo. I'm only interested in identification. Thanks in advance.

Anonymous said...

What about working or not condition of the lighters or any other vintage objects, antiques ? Cars, for exemple. A working 1920´s car is it much expensive than one that no works. There are not so much parts in old objects who does not work. Repairs are very hard to do.

table lighters said...

@Anonymous: Very good point. I will soon update this post with your hint. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Can someone give me some insight on how to find a vintage lighter appraiser in the Atlanta GA area? I have an old clear Bakelite block table lighter with 1921 Morgan silver dollar inlaid in it with an Evans lighter. I need coin and lighter appraiser, I guess. Help?? =}

Anonymous said...

I have a 1931 commemorative lighter ciggerett holder, epic non-stop flight 5011 miles.
Russell Boardman John Pollardo,for sale, any takers?

filarium1@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

I am looking for information on a Rowenta electric table lighter powered by a 22 1/2 volt battery




2nickelsoradime@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

I have inherited a metal ashtray stand with marble looking white/pink swirl flowers going up the stem and a rounded base white glass base above the metal feet! The tray for the ashtray is a round metal with a metal curved arm that goes over the tray and attaches on 2 sides, in the arm is a holder for the working lighter. The only brand name/manufacturer I can find is on the bottom of the light and it says, Ronson Banker Trademark Toronto, Canada, Canada Pats. 288.148-289.889 J.S. Pat.Re 19023.
If anyone could tell me the year it was made, value with ashtray and lighter etc., I would greatly appreciate it.
Thank you

Anonymous said...

I have an Ascot pagoda lighter , green, in box w. instructions. ANY IDEA OF WORTH?

Anonymous said...

any idea how much a ronson combination lighter and cigerette case is woth in box with felt bag never used is worth ?

Skybear said...

I have This Zebra Brand Lighter from Japan. Is very old. Is brand new. Can't find this brand in website. Is full metal n refuel type.. any idea how much it worth?

shaz said...

i have a cohibra gatsby lighter anyone got any idea on what its worth ?

jayden martens said...

I have a fisher 1950's lighter on the bottom it says: super quality design regid no Idea what it's worth can't find any info on it either

Anonymous said...

I have a Cartier sold gold lighter watch from the 1920's or 30's and unable to find it's true value. This piece seems to be quite rare. I have it on ebay for auction. Do you have any idea to it's value?

Anonymous said...

I have a gold Cartier lighter, serial no.D49606 and a stamp and some printing. Any idea of it's worth.Randell

Anonymous said...

I have a 14k gold plated unused lighter from 1965 with a raised image of the new Mint casino opening in Las Vegas, along with the initials MT on the lid. It is in its original plastic case along with the paper description. Of course, the casino is no longer there. Would be interested in its worth.

Anonymous said...

around 200

Anonymous said...

I have a few Colibri Kick start snake skin covered lighters, with box and old 1930s style original instructions. I can only find one man selling one when you google this description but without box or instructions. Any ideas???

Anonymous said...

kirstie_jane@hotmail.com for pics :)

Anonymous said...

i have a "varaflame fantasy" ronson in working order seems to be in great shape. how much would this be worth? i bought it a garage sale 10yrs ago for $3.00.

Anonymous said...

i have a queen anne ronson lighter in good condition how much would it be worth

Anonymous said...

I have a "Knight" lighter which isn't working
correctly.....is there a place I could send it
for repair?

Anonymous said...

how much is my ronson de.light made in newark u.s.a pat no 19023 worth aslo has pondlight stamped on it ?

Anonymous said...

I have a cigarette lighter-looking perfume atomizer. In other words it looks like a cigarette lighter, but is a perfume atomizer. Can't find it anywhere. On the bottom is U.S. Pat. (1,791,440) then a # under the flat-head screw (1,900,000) Kent is under that. Trying to find value. Thank you.

RICHARD Smith said...

I have a vintage Nimrod sportsman pipeliter in orginal box. I was wondering if it was worth anything.

Anonymous said...

I found an old lighter out in my grandfathers shed. I believe iy belong to my great grandfather who was in world war 2 i found a bit of information in it but i can't find a price value for it. It is in excellent condition no marks and/scratches. Its a 1930 white lighter from the white co. Abilene Texas. Anyone have information on this??? email jadedlover6987@bellsouth.net with subject title "WHITE LIGHTER" thank you in advance.

Researcher said...

I have a Cartier serial # 30056 C which I just opened from the late 60's...Sterling Silver..what would it be worth

acu Henpon said...

I have s.p slip/wheel lighter 1920.how much it worth

john wilder said...

I have an old ronson gem lighter I found 25 years ago under a tree house when I was a kid. It has a trapezoid with four rivets on top and bottom. The trapezoid with rivets is level. I am not worried about the value as I have no intention of selling it, but would live to know it's true age. On the bottom it says u.s. patent 2,461,195 if that helps.

john wilder said...

I found an old ronson gem lighter under a tree house when I was a kid, over 25 years ago. The lighter has a level trapezoid with eight small rivets, four on top, four on bottom. Not really so much worried about the value of the lighter as I have no intentions of selling it, but would love to know how old it is, if anyone's an expert.

Anonymous said...

Hi I have a ronson capri still in its original box,unused, with what looks like an engraved bullet on...its says on the bottom made in england..pat nos 62157 675367 724448..I inherited this off my grandfather, and would love any info on this beautiful lighter

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